Business travel can be both exciting and overwhelming. It’s easy to assume that everything will go smoothly with a business trip, but there are plenty of variables to consider.  You can’t always anticipate a flight delay, lost baggage, or getting stuck in security. Nonetheless, here are some tips and hacks for making your travel experience minimally stressful—and even enjoyable!

1.  Check Your Wallet

You may already know this, but certain credit cards can help you obtain extra perks. For example, some cards are great for airline miles and provide a large bonus. Other cards will get you gold status with certain hotels—which means automatic upgrades!  And others will issue cash back or similar financial credits.

2.  Don’t Check Luggage

Unless absolutely necessary, don’t bother checking luggage. Business travel should be smooth and efficient, and checking luggage will only slow you down. Sticking with carry-on luggage will save you time and protect you from losing your bags. This may seem difficult—how do you fit everything into one carry-on and a personal bag? It’s simple, really: only bring the bare necessities and the minimal number of outfits you need for your trip.  You can always do laundry at your hotel or send out clothing to be cleaned.

3.  Check in Online

Most airline companies let you check in online within 24 hours of your flight. This may seem trivial but it can save you a lot time at the airport, especially if you aren’t checking any baggage. Many airlines also have apps that allow you check your flight’s status, obtain your boarding pass on your phone, and determine alternate flight options in case of a delay or cancellation.

4.  Consider Direct Flights

It is often cheaper to book connecting flights, but direct flights are worth the extra money. Every connecting flight provides additional opportunities for something to go wrong. If the first part of your trip is delayed you’ll likely miss your connecting flight, and things will just go downhill from there. Plus, if you do decide to check luggage, each connecting flight is a chance for something to happen to your baggage. Direct flights will not only get you to your destination fastest, they will avoid these extra potential pitfalls such as lost or delayed baggage.

5.  Consider Checking in Late

Most elite members will have already checked into their hotel by mid- to late-afternoon. If you don’t have elite status, find out how late you can check in.  If you’re unsure ask the check-in agent what is available and try to work your way into an upgrade. Be extra nice to the agent and be sure to thank them if they are able to get you a few perks!  Do pay attention, however, to extra fees for cancellations as well as late check-ins as some hotels are now charging a fee.

6.  Buy Tickets Incognito

Some airlines and travel sites will show you higher rates every time you check back on their site. If you use an incognito browser, or delete your browser’s cookies, you can bypass this problem.

7.  Consider Loyalty

One way to get good deals is to choose a specific airline and/or hotel and always book consistently with that airline, hotel, etc.  Staying loyal is a great way to rack up free rewards, upgrades, etc. The more business you give an airline/hotel, the more they’ll offer you.

8.  Consider Playing the Field

Loyalty is one way to gain benefits. However, if you gain elite status with one airline you can do a status match on the others. Pitting airlines against each other (so to speak) might get you some perks that you would not receive otherwise.

9.  Consider Being Pre-Approved by TSA

If you travel frequently for business it’s definitely worth getting pre-approved by TSA. $85 can get you a five-year pre-check which can help you bypass TSA security pat-downs! Who wouldn’t want to get through security without having to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, and jackets?

10.  Get a Corporate Credit Card with Benefits

Many companies offer the opportunity to accrue points on your own corporate card. If you pay your way and recover costs from your company later you might want to get a separate personal business credit card. You can earn mileage points, upgrades, discounts, perks and even cash-back incentives.

11.  Use an Incentive Travel Planner for Group Travel

If you’re in charge of travel plans for groups, consider working with an incentive travel planner.  They not only have established relationships with hotels, airlines and other suppliers but their experience can help enhance the travel experience.

Peter "Hob" Reichenbach

Peter "Hob" Reichenbach has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He has worked with and been responsible for the major accounts for the last 24 years. He began his career as a travel director with a major incentive house. In 1997, he held the position of Executive Vice President and Partner with Gavel International. In 2008, he became the Managing Director. When not on the "road", he and his wife, Mary Beth, reside in Bannockburn, Illinois with their three children.
Peter

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