At one point or another, small business owners find themselves faced with the opportunity or need to travel to pursue new partnerships, build relationships with customers, and ultimately grow their businesses.
The costs of business travel can quickly pile up, especially with purchases you weren’t expecting. (Overpriced cup of coffee at the airport, anyone?) Using a business expense tracker app to keep tabs on business travel can keep costs from getting away from you. It also pays to be prepared well before your trip, during travel, and once you arrive at your destination to have a seamless business travel experience.
Read on for the ultimate list of business travel tips, or jump right to the infographic to learn how to expertly pack the perfect carry on for your next business trip.
Before You Travel
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or about to embark on your first business trip, you should never go into a business trip unprepared. Whether or not you plan ahead of time can set the course for your whole trip. These business travel tips will help get your trip in order before you set off on your journey.
Business Travel Planning Tips
- Sign up for TSA PreCheck. Make every flight on time by signing up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to bypass long security lines.
- Book an early flight. Taking a flight that’s early in the day can protect you in the event that your flight is delayed or cancelled. Try not to take the last flight of the day.
- Make copies of important documents. Scan or take a picture of your driver’s license, passport, and other important documents for peace of mind if you lose your wallet or luggage.
- Manage your money. Use a business travel credit card to reap the benefits of frequent travel, like rewards that go toward travel purchases (airfare, rental cars, and hotels).
- Create a travel itinerary. If an itinerary is not already provided to you, use an app to organize your travel plans and make the most out of your business trip.
Business Travel Packing Tips
- Bring an extra outfit. Bring an extra change of clothes or two for if you have time for a leisure outing on your trip, or just in case.
- Charge all your electronics. Ensure that all of your devices are fully charged before setting out for your trip. Don’t count on having the option to charge at the airport or in-flight, so bring a portable charging option when possible.
- Pack healthy snacks. Skip overpriced airport food and unhealthy in-flight snacks by bringing your own snacks. Opt for mess-free goodies like trail mix, crackers, or dried fruit to keep you fueled on the go.
- Don’t check any luggage. Avoid the stress of lost or late luggage by sticking to carry-on bags only. You’ll save time in lines and won’t have to wait for checked luggage to exit the airport.
During Your Trip
With business travel comes new connections and opportunities for significant business growth, but navigating the airport and being comfortable in-flight can be a challenge. Use these business travel tips to avoid stress and find maximum comfort on the way to your destination.
Business Travel Airport Tips
- Check in before you arrive. Skip the hassle of check in lines and streamline your airport time by checking in for your flight online or on your airline’s app.
- Lessen TSA time. Avoid excess time at security checkpoints by packing lightly and checking your luggage ahead of time for prohibited items.
- Use the business lounge. Sign up for the American Express Business Platinum Card to get free access to over 700 airport lounges worldwide—perfect for getting work done between flights in quiet comfort.
- Fly on (not around) holidays. Days leading up to major holidays can mean crowded airports, but flying on the actual day (like Christmas) can help you avoid bustling airports and overbooked flights.
Business Travel Flight Tips
- Keep a tennis ball handy. Roll a tennis ball under your feet or along any aching points to reduce stiffness or cramps in-flight.
- Bring a pair of earplugs. Don’t lose sleep because of a crying baby or loud seatmate. Earplugs can help keep your sanity intact by minimizing the annoyance of noisy flights.
- Be kind to the flight crew. Being pleasant to the flight attendants (or even bringing a small gift like candy to share) can improve the crew’s mood, ultimately giving you a better flight experience.
- Skip the alcohol. Don’t indulge in a cocktail mid-flight—alcohol can increase dehydration and make jet lag worse.
Once You Arrive
After a potentially long flight, you’ll want a smooth experience getting to your final destination. Whether or not you have a car service in wait to take you to a luxurious hotel, see these business travel tips for once you arrive.
Business Travel Car & Lodging Tips
- Negotiate a better car deal. After booking your rental car, ask for an upgrade to a premium car and then negotiate (nicely) to get a lower price on a higher-quality car.
- Ask for a room upgrade. If you’re staying in a hotel, ask the front desk staff for a room upgrade if the hotel doesn’t seem busy. In slow times, you may be able to get a better room at no extra cost.
- Look into alternative lodging. Booking alternative accommodation like Airbnb can help you avoid exorbitant hotel costs and lend to a more comfortable stay.
Business Travel Health Tips
- Sleep your way to better business. Avoid sleep deprivation and the effects of jet lag by taking short naps and going to sleep and waking up at normal hours for your destination.
- Make time for exercise. Increase productivity and reduce travel stress by getting a walk in after meetings or hitting a hotel gym if available.
- Hydrate often. Both air travel and extended road travel can lead to dehydration. Drink water often and consume water-rich foods like cucumbers, watermelon, or apples to stay hydrated and nourished.
- Keep the hotel fridge stocked. Don’t make unhealthy food choices out of convenience on your trip. Plan ahead to stock up on healthy foods for snacks and meals.
- Take an immune booster. Avoid post-travel sickness by taking immune supplements throughout your trip and traveling with hand sanitizers to avoid germs in crowded spaces.
- Stick to a routine. As much as possible, keep some routines consistent—like eating at the same time or working out after lunch—to keep stress at bay.
Bonus Business Travel Tips
- Carry extra business cards. Make a great first impression and arrive prepared for sudden networking by keeping extra business cards easily accessible.
- Sign up for frequent flyer programs. Once you start traveling often for business, you’ll be glad you signed up for at least one frequent flyer program to earn miles and other airline-specific perks.
- Book an extended trip. Adding an extra day to your stay can help you balance work and leisure on your trip. Rest or explore during your free time to get the most out of your trip.
Armed with these business travel tips, read through the infographic below to learn the pros and cons of business travel and how to pack the perfect carry-on for your trip.