That first time on the plane, when the thrust of spooled-up jet engines at full throttle settles you back into your seat, the nose of the plane tips up and you feel the wheels lift off the ground—well, let’s just say that’s exciting. Even after countless hundreds of business-related flights, that moment of take-off remains exciting for me. But the truth is, when you travel regularly for work, your top priority becomes making those trips efficient and comfortable.
Here is what I learned from decades of frequent business travelling myself.
Make the transition to carry-on luggage.
Carry-on is simpler, will save you up to an hour on every trip waiting for luggage, and the airlines will never lose your bag. Packing for a week of business meetings with just a carry-on bag takes some careful planning. The first step is committing to carry-on, the next step is getting the right bag. Need a second suit on the road? Maybe you want a suit bag. The extra hundred dollars to buy a quality bag will help you pack more efficiently and will stand up better to the weekly pounding business travel bags get.
Dedicate a makeup bag or shaving kit solely to business travel.
The nature of business travel is constant change. Likely you will have short notice trips and itinerary changes that mean you need to be ready to go on a moment’s notice. Dedicating a make-up bag or shaving kit to business travel means you don’t have to think through what you need: it’s already there. If you need a razor, dedicate one. Have makeup? Get duplicates. Medication, same.
Your travel bag should have in it everything you need to put yourself together in the morning just like at home, but in a separate airline-friendly bag with each item sized to meet the strict airline travel guidelines. Having the confidence this bag is fully stocked and ready to go takes some of the panic out of packing on short notice.
Fill out travel profiles and sign up for memberships: the real benefit is recognition and service.
If you travel a lot, you probably get jealous looks from friends and family about the stacks of points you are collecting for personal use. Go ahead and collect any points your company will allow, but the real benefit of travel profiles is preferred treatment. Business travellers are the meat and potatoes revenue for Airlines, car rentals, and hotels. They all want to look after you well because they all want you (and your colleagues) back. Airlines upgrade points-collecting frequent travellers, hotels provide better rooms, and car rental companies are more likely to bump you up a class with a no charge upgrade. All that is good. But many of the preferred customer programs provide better and faster service. I love Avis Car’s Wizard program that lets me get in the fast lane (Budget’s program is called FASTLANE) and sometimes skips the line altogether to get to my car and appointments faster. Some hotels have a preferred customer check-in. My favourite hotel in Vancouver (and anywhere else I book this chain) knows I don’t want feather pillows, and I want to be as far away from the elevator as possible.
Decide if you are going to drive to the airport.
There is nothing like sliding into the backseat of a warm limo when it’s minus twenty-five outside and your car is encrusted in what looks like glacial ice. I got to know my limo driver and relied on him to get me to the airport for on-time departures. And he and that warm limo were waiting for me when I rolled down the escalator with my carry-on bag. I was a valuable customer to him and he provided competitive pricing that matched my parking fee if I was gone more than three nights.
Business travel is work, but it doesn’t have to be drudgery. Being organized and setting up systems to help you travel with little resistance will make your business life more enjoyable. And never let go of the excitement of the engine spooling up and settling you back in your aircraft seat.
By Timothy Fowler – Traveler and Writer