Here are fifteen tips to prepare you for your next business trip.
Prepare for the Trip
Update Your Passport
Even if you don’t have a trip planned, you never know when one is around the corner. Always make sure your passport is in order, as it generally takes 4-6 weeks to renew a passport, and you don’t want to tell your boss that you won’t make it through customs.
Confirm Company Preferences
Often times, companies will have particular airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies that they prefer to deal with. Familiarize yourself with these companies before you go, so you know what options your company will accept. Also familiarize yourself with the company’s expense account, how much is available and what it is/isn’t allowed to be spent on.
Check Internet Access
You can’t always assume that Internet will be available. Especially if you’re flying internationally, check what the internet conditions are like at your destination. Depending on the results, and on how necessary internet is to your work, you might find it worthwhile to purchase an international internet plan on your cell phone.
If you travel internationally a great deal or expect to, it might be wise to invest in Global Entry, a program that pre-screens you and allows you expedited access through customs in many nations, to save you time.
Book Flights Early, Rooms Late
Always book your flight as early as you can, since prices will go up as the availability on the plane goes down. Interestingly, the reverse is true for hotels; as you get closer to the day in question, hotels become more and more keen to sell their remaining rooms and will sell for cheaper. Make sure you don’t try this on the day of a big event like Comicon, though, or you might find the hotel has no vacancies.
Book Flights With Earlier or Later Times
You can’t control if a plane gets canceled or delayed, but you can control which plane you’re taking. If at all possible, try to book flights with iterations earlier or later in the day; that way, if your flight is canceled, you can switch over to the other one.
Consolidate Airlines/Hotel Chains
Try to stick to just one or two airlines if you can, and the same for hotel chains. Consolidation will allow you to accrue the most points with one company, and allow to most efficiently use those points.
Direct isn’t Non-Stop
Non-stop flights fly directly to your destination. Direct flights may stop at another airport, they just won’t have you getting off and changing planes. Know the difference, and know which one you’re booking.
The Night Before
Pack Everything in One Carry-On
Efficient packing is a talent that takes years to truly master. The aim, however, is to minimize your risk. If everything you bring is in your carry-on, then your luggage can’t get lost. Pare down everything you can, plan your packing space carefully, and make everything you might need during the flight easy to access.
Anything that can be used for multiple purposes is an efficient thing to pack. Clothing that can be effective in multiple types of weather should be the biggest priority when packing clothes.
Cell phone, laptop, Kindle, anything at all that might need a charge, get it at 100% before you go to sleep the night before the trip. You don’t want to be fumbling in the airport, looking for an outlet, or worse, to run out of battery in an unknown city.
The Day Of
Busier Airports Have More Delays
If you’re flying out of LAX or JFK, a delay is much more likely than if you were flying out of Nowheresville Airport. If you are going to a larger hub, then allot a bit more time to get through security, as well.
When looking for someone to upgrade, airline employees will often choose someone who looks professional and wealthy. Be that person.
Wash Your Hands
Airports are like the airports of germs. On a business trip is a terrible time to come down with something, so wash your hands constantly while you’re in transit. Also, different areas are likely to have different pathogens, so you might be slightly more susceptible to the local sicknesses due to lack of immunity.
Easily the most important tip on this list, be kind to everyone you deal with. Outside of the basic moral expectations, kindness truly is king when dealing with customer service. Deal with every setback graciously and with a smile, and you never know when luck could turn your way. Customer service employees are often not very well paid and bored, and they have zero stakes in helping you if you get belligerent, as well as zero reasons not to give you preferential treatment if they decide that they like you.