Photo: from Archives New Zealand, on Flickr
How to Hit the Ground Running
So you've packed your luggage and you're ready to go. Here is a count-down of things to do for your business trip, so you can hit the ground running.
Sign up for all the major airline and hotel frequent flyer plans
Sit down one evening and sign up for all the major airlines and hotel chains. Then write down your membership numbers for all of them in a note and save it on your phone (or on Evernote). This will come in handy when you check into hotels.
There really is no downside, since you can unsubscribe from email updates (although I still get the occasional junk mail).
One Month before...
Organize your Itinerary
You may have an amazing assistant at work (as do I) where your whole itinerary is in your calendar. If not, then an app called TripIt can help. You have probably heard of it before. Here's the low down:
- you forward your booking confirmation emails to TripIt and it reads it and lays out your itinerary neatly, in order, all in one place.
you can download it on your iPad and Blackberry and other devices.
you can access the information in your apps even if you are not online.
it's free. You can upgrade to Pro to get alerts of flight changes, etc.
Can it ever be wrong? Yes. It's been wrong for me once for an airport gate that changed. Just check the gate and you'll be fine.
The Night Before...
Charge everything. Your laptop, table, phone, spare laptop battery, mifi, etc.
Load up any entertainment (movies, podcasts, magazines, books, games) for the inevitable waiting in line.
At the Airport
Get into an airport lounge where you can sit, eat, plug in your laptop and get excellent wifi. Not flying business class and have no airline status? Then you can make your own little airport lounge:
- you can get a seat and buy food, obviously, and if you bring a spare laptop battery, you wont need to worry about plugging in your laptop. And create your own wifi with a mifi card - although I've used these and they can be temperamental.
- if you have a long layover, get a massage. Airport massages are so-so, but afterwards, they will seat you in an electric massage chair for pretty much as long as you like, and that's pretty fantastic.
While you're waiting...
There is so much waiting around with business travel. Waiting in security. Waiting for the plane. Waiting in immigration. If I got all that time back, I think I'd be a year younger.
Now, it perplexes me why people just stand there and complain about the line. Firstly, why are they so surprised? And secondly, there's nothing they can do about it, so why stress?
So don't be a bozzo, come prepared. Here are some ideas:
- load something to read or listen to on your tablet. I have a bunch of magazines, books and podcasts.
- play a game on your iPad or iPhone. I like Real Racing 3.
- call your friends or family.
- bring a book. This is important since the U.S. don't allow electronic devices in the immigration line. You can sometimes hide and get away with it.
- knitting. I have a friend that does this. It is supposed to be wonderfully therapeutic. This may require too much co-ordination for a short line but if you're at immigration at LAX for 2 hours, then it might just save your sanity.
- organize your wallet or hand bag.
- talk to a stranger.
At the Hotel
Two years ago, for a period of time, I would leave one thing at every hotel I stayed at, effectively scattering my luggage all around the U.S. Good news is, the hotel will mail it back to you, but you will be charged for the postage. So before you check out, look in the bed, the shower and the power points - three areas where I always unexpectedly leave things.
After Your Trip
I hope you had a good trip! Now, you have to do your expenses. Such a chore. To make it slightly easier, allocate a section in your wallet for work expense receipts. If there's no space, then keep an envelope in your handbag for these.
And so ends our 4 part series on business travel. Next week, I'll be packaging it up into an ebook on business travel. Sign up if you'd like one!
Quora: Why do people use Tripit
Lifehacker: Not just for VIPs: Everything you need to know about airport lounges
Live Playfully: Ways to Stay Happy While Waiting in Line