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If you don’t have much experience with traveling for business, then it’s easy to find the entire process stressful and overwhelming. But if you do travel frequently, it’s important to figure a few things out.
Related: 5 Ways to Save Time and Money on Business Travel
Here are a handful of helpful travel hacks you could gain from ten minutes' conversation in an airport terminal with any experienced business traveler.
1. Avoid checking luggage whenever possible.
The goal of business travel is to save as much time as possible by being proactive and efficient. In this light, one of the best tips is to avoid checking luggage whenever possible. By bringing only carry-on luggage, you avoid the extra time it takes to check luggage and find it again at baggage claim. More importantly, you avoid the risk of your luggage being manipulated or put on the wrong flight.
How can you possibly fit everything into one carry-on piece of luggage and a personal bag? Well, start by leaving things at home. Even traveling internationally for business, you can leave extra gadgets, bulky items and clothing behind.
Remember that you really need only a few outfits. “Unless you’re traveling to an extremely remote location — where your water supply is limited – there’s virtually no need to bring extra clothes, when you can do a quick sink wash and line dry,” Luggage Council notes. “You could also splurge and use your hotel’s laundry services.”
2. Pay a premium for direct flights.
If you’re paying for your own flights, it’s easy to choose the cheapest option. But the cheapest option isn’t always the best option. Connecting flights are sometimes necessary to get from one location to another, but look for direct flights if at all possible.
With each connection, you are not only increasing the amount of time it takes to get from “Point A” to “Point B,” but also increasing the amount of risk. With each leg, there’s a possibility for a delay. If your first leg is delayed, you risk missing your second leg, which then compromises your third leg, etc.
If you can reasonably afford it, pay a premium for direct flights. This will save you a lot of stress and wasted time in uncomfortable airports.
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3. Check in online.
There are always unexpected delays on travel days. From the alarm that doesn’t ring and traffic on the interstate, to long security lines and issues at the baggage counter, uncontrollable factors will always be in play. So, when you get the chance to speed something up, take full advantage.
Thankfully, most airline companies now let you check in online within 24 hours of your flight. This one little step can save you a ton of time at the airport — especially if you aren’t checking baggage.
4. Always carry these items in your bag.
Every experienced business traveler has a few simple items he or she needs to carry on every trip. These vary from individual to individual, but learn what's important here by studying your peers. One important item is a portable cell phone charger. You never know when you’re going to need to charge your phone but won’t be able to find your charger (or an outlet).
Another strange, yet effective, item is a tennis ball. “Bring a tennis ball with you when you’re traveling,” experienced traveler Brian Povinelli says. “It’s great to roll under your feet and even under your thighs to keep you from getting stiff/sore. It's small, inexpensive and easy to replace.”
5. Kill the germs.
Airports, rental cars, hotels, and taxicabs . . . they’re all full of germs. In order to stay healthy on your business trip, do everything possible to avoid germs in obvious places. That’s why you should always carry three things in your bag: hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and Bacitracin.
Antibacterial wipes should be used to clean down airplane table trays (which are rarely cleaned between flights). And sanitizer should be applied before eating anything. Apply a small drop of Bacitracin to each nostril to keep those pesky germs at bay.
6. Try negotiating with rental car agencies.
If you’re renting a car upon arriving at your destination, consider inquiring about an upgrade. There’s a big difference in comfort between compact cars and premium cars. Plus, if you’re wining and dining clients, it’s always good to be thinking about your image.
“Premium cars can cost an arm and a leg, but counter reps will negotiate much lower prices if they are available when you pick up your car,” says Brian Kelley, The Points Guy. “Ask at check-in if you can upgrade to a higher category, and if they quote you a price, be sure to negotiate since they won’t start at their best price.”
Related: 7 Tips for International Business Travel From a Multi-Million Miler
Thanks, Brian. With these six travel hacks, you too can become an experienced business traveler in no time.