Like many of you I business travel frequently. They can be a one-day trip, a week, or even couple weeks in-and-out of airports, hotels, restaurants and conferences. When frequent flying it is important to be prepared and adequately equipped.
I have learnt few tricks that make my life easier at airports and hotels, and I would like to share the ones I consider most important.
Never check-in your luggage
Despite saving money ($50 to $100) it will also expedite your exit from airports; in some cases helping you to avoid taxi lines. The most important here is actually to ensure your luggage goes to the same destination as you are.
I have recently been forced to check-in my luggage in Milan with destination to Tallinn, Estonia. I arrived in Estonia, but my luggage got stuck in Berlin.
A good tip to avoid having to check-in luggage is to only use the self check-in stations. If not possible to use them, make sure you go to the airline counter without your carry-on luggage.
Picking the right airport security line
This is more of an art than science, but there are couple things you should pay attention when choosing your line. Avoid lines with families and old people. Also avoid lines with people removing their watches and belts only at the x-ray machine. The shorter line is not always the fastest line. In US, if you are a permanent resident, make sure you apply for PRE or Global Entry, this will save you some time.
Always find your gate before stopping for a bite or shopping
When you don’t know the airport ensure you always find your gate before heading for a bite or some shopping. Once, in a large airport, I stopped for a quick bite after customs, just to find out later that my gate was 15 minutes away and involved taking a train to the gate. I almost missed the flight – so I always find my gate before doing anything else.
Find the right phone solution
There’s nothing worse than arrive on a country and not being able to be connected, not even to check the hotel address or reservation. Make sure you arrange voice and data access before you go. If you are in US, T-Mobile offers free 3G data access in over 64 countries. Free data is very handy when travelling abroad.
Devices and gadgets
I commonly carry my phone, laptop and tablet for long trips. Keeping everything charged can be difficult, but not impossible. I carry with me a neat power adaptor I found in Spain; it has all the connectors and yet is very small. I use the adaptor to charge the laptop and use USB power chords to charge everything else. Many flights now have charging outlets and you can use them to keep your devices charged in between flights or while you use them. Don’t forget to charge everything before you travel.
Check the in-flight entertainment options
Nothing worse than being stuck in an 11 hour flight without personal entertainment system. That has happened to me couple times when flying United Airlines. I learned my lesson and I always check the airplane details before the flight. If no personal entertainment system is available make sure you stop at iTunes or Google App Store for some serious movie and series downloads. Last case scenario; stop by the bookshop at the airport.
Develop a solid packing strategy
I am still working on this one and it all depends on the length of the stay and the weather forecast at the destination; but I never break the rule of single carry-on luggage. I always try to fit everything I need in the carry-on, even if I am staying abroad for more than a week.
My general rule is to always have 5 days worth of business clothing that all match the same shoes and socks. I always take with me a double-sided belt and I wish there were double-sided socks too. If I am staying more than one week I will send couple things to the hotel’s laundry (be aware that some hotels will not do laundry on weekends). Pack only one color of pants and one (matching) jacket. This way you can optimize the accessories you need to take. This vastly reduces the amount of stuff you need to pack.
If you want to exercise, take some lightweight sneakers. Wear the heaviest things you are taking to minimize the amount of stuff you need to drag around with you.
I commonly struggle with jet lag. I tried every recommendation I could find on the internet and none of them really work well for me. I commonly have jet lag even after the 4th or 5th day when flying over 8 hours. The tips I have is to remain hydrated, try to land in the morning at the destination, and force yourself to remain awake all day; go for a city tour.
One time I decided to take a quick afternoon nap at the 6th day and I ended up sleeping for 6 hours, disrupting all the good work I had done catching up during the week. Avoid afternoon naps at all costs.
Reward cards will provide you with many benefits
Owning airline reward cards provide you with benefits, including priority boarding, priority upgrades and access to the airline lounge. Try to have at least one reward card for each major airline reward chain (StarAlliance, OneWorld); this will help you bump up your status quickly.
Another good way to bump up status and earn miles is to own an airline credit card. I currently own the United Airlines credit card that not only provides me with miles and status, but also doesn’t charge international fees when buying goods. Good money-saving!
Other important tips for the frequent flyer.
- Get upgrades on flights by booking an economy ticket with a Y or B booking codes.
- Ask for hotel upgrades when the front desk isn’t busy.
- Ordering a special meal for the flight you will get fed first.
- Stop by your company’s break room and load up on snacks before the trip.
- Inflight attendants are not allowed to provide medication by regulation. Always carry Advil and other necessary medications.
- Photograph you car park location so you don’t forget where it is.
If you have other important tips, please share them with me.
This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net