Despite the constant rise of popularity in Skype and other modes of video conferencing, meeting in person has not become an extinct activity. If you are a young professional or recent graduate, business travel will likely be part of your job at some point. If you happen to be a lucky consultant, you will reach frequent traveler status faster than you can say “priority boarding." After reaching the frequent traveler status just a few months into my new job, I hope to bring some value to those who share aspects of my life on the road.
I learned most of my lessons via numerous hours spent waiting unnecessarily, missed connections and phones with empty batteries in the worst possible situations.
Baggage Claim? Never Been There
First and foremost: Do not even think about checking luggage. A carry-on easily holds enough clean shirts or blouses to last you a week and I cannot even imagine the horror you would bring to the faces of seasoned colleagues who would have to wait for you at baggage claim for a solid 25 minutes.
In addition, it saves you from the gigantic pain you have endure in case the airline losing your stuff, which happens more often than you probably realize.
Fold And Fly
When you have to make it through the week living out of a carry-on, it’s important to know a couple of tips and tricks. Heavy items, like your second pair of shoes (shoes should never be worn twice within 48 hours), go by the suitcase’s wheels.
This keeps the bag maneuverable and will not put any wrinkles in your carefully folded shirts. Said shirts (of course, you bring one for each day and one extra) go into the plastic dry cleaning bags to keep wrinkles away.
If wrinkles happen regardless, hang them up in the shower the next morning and let the steam take care of the rest. Sandwich the dry cleaning bag full of shirts between your skirts or pants and blazers on top. Turn the blazer inside-out and places your rolled-up undergarments in the sleeves.
Put your toiletries in a plastic bag inside your laptop case, since those need to come out during security, anyway. Forget about bringing running gear along. It takes too much space in your bag, you will not have the time to go running anyway and chances are, it will make your fresh shirts smell of old trainers. Instead, bring a bathing suit and hop in the hotel pool.
Nothing Nice. Nothing Pretty. Maximum Efficiency
While your suitcase holds everything to keep you looking sharp, your laptop case is your friend when it comes to keeping you productive during your business travels.
Apart from holding the laptop and its charger, it should be able to support you through all of life’s surprises. Have a portable charger for your smartphone or tablet that doesn’t require a wall socket. In addition, a second charger comes in handy if you are anything like me and often leave them in your hotel rooms.
Bring a pack of mints and a couple of granola bars, as well, in case the airline decides to run out of snacks, or you don’t have time to grab something to eat on your way out of the airport.
Hardcopies And The Cloud. Yes, You Need Both
Likely, you will have your ID, passport and credit cards with you while on the road. It makes sense to have them all in the same place when you travel, but imagine the pain of losing them.
A little parachute, scanning all those documents and plastics, stores a copy in a cloud solution of your choice. This way, you can still access the documents over your phone or via every computer with an Internet connection.
While Apple’s Passbook is a great invention, too often, you’ll run out of battery at the airport (those Thursday nights before heading home from the client) or there is no mobile Internet available for whatever reason.
To avoid delaying your (probably tight) schedule any further, always have a printout of your itinerary, boarding pass, hotel reservations and the likes with you. Yes, it will cost you a couple of minutes to print them, but you will understand the importance once you missed the last plane home due to an empty smartphone battery.
It also makes sense to bring along a printed list with contact details of the people with whom you will engage throughout the duration of your trip.
A printed list you say? Yes, there will be a time when you lose or break your phone and do not know a single phone number from the top of your head (besides your parents’).
Miles Over Miles
When traveling, be sure to make use of loyalty programs. It will provide you with significantly better service; as soon as you reach a certain status, you will get upgrades in your hotels and on your flights as well as other amenities, like an empty seat next to you.
This does not help with anything in particular, but it makes your life a little more comfortable. Sometimes you’ll need those little perks when life on the road gets the best of you and you would much rather be in your own bed.
However, there are also a couple of very rational reasons for loyalty programs. Often, a certain status allows you to make use of priority lines at airport security or while checking in at your hotel.
This saves you a considerable amount of time throughout a year of traveling. Also, status usually comes with access to the airline’s lounges. This comes in handy when you need to do a conference call from the airport or you want to get some work done.
A nice cup of coffee and a proper power outlet at a table is definitely better than balancing your laptop on your knees in a gate aisle or have children blaring into a call with a client.
There Are Only So Many Hours In A Day
While being on the road, you will have plenty of idle time. You could play some mind numbing game on your phone or watch a rerun of Breaking Bad.
However, you could also put the time to good use. Use the time to call friends with whom you haven’t spoken in awhile. When you are a road warrior, your family will be happy to hear from you whenever they do.
If you can, also try to catch up with people in person. Your friends and former classmates have probably spread out over the country — or even over the world.
When you travel to a new city, check your LinkedIn to see who might also be in the area and try to schedule time for a drink or two.
Try to use down time to catch up on your reading. Our generation is simply not reading enough and senior clients or managers often try and engage about some article or book. Given the rise of tablets, the excuse that books are to heavy is no longer viable.
Also, try to enjoy the time as much as possible while on the road. There is no point in getting angry about delays, crying babies or lost reservations. Put your time to good use and try to be one step ahead of all eventualities. Knowing that you are prepared will give you the necessary ease of mind to enjoy your endeavors.
Top Photo Credit: Shutter Stock