One out of nine U.S. jobs depend on travel and tourism, according to the U.S Travel Association. In fact, 2.2 billion took overnight trips in paid accommodations alone, or trips to places 50 miles or more away from home for business and leisure purposes, said the U.S Travel Association. Business. And that's on the rise.
Thanks to fast online flight searches via such resources as Trip Seats or Skyscanner, jetting off on a last-minute business trip has become easier than ever. But every globe-trotting entrepreneur knows a whistle stop business trip can be very stressful.
All seasoned travelers have the basics down: Don’t over pack, plan your itinerary, get to the airport early. But aside from bringing too much and paying extra for inevitable delayed flights, there are many other stresses that can come up on business trips. Here's how to make those trips be a little more peaceful.
Before You Fly
1. Make a checklist. Itinerary aside, a checklist is key to a stress-free sojourn. It will ensure you don’t leave anything out, and will guarantee you pack appropriately. Instead of hurriedly throwing 10 pairs of socks and a bundle of ties into your carry-on, you’ll pack only what you need. Another pro tip: Split the contents of your case over two smaller bags; there’s less chance that your bag will get checked at the gateway. That way you can quickly be on your way to that all-important meeting.
2. Know your suitcase. Make sure you know exactly where everything in your suitcase has been packed. Put all your electrical devices in designated spaces; this will make it so much easier to get straight down to business when you arrive. And remember to charge all your items before you leave — the last thing you want when you arrive in an unknown city is for Google Maps to fail on you.
3. Traveler programs. Frequent fliers can queue jump at the airport, enjoy priority boarding and benefit from the hospitality of airport lounges by signing up for a frequent flyer program. Most airlines and airline groups run programs, and if you often travel with a particular carrier, it’s worth registering. The airport lounges I've seen seriously take some of the stress out of traveling — there was free food, comfortable couches and Wi-Fi.
4. Sort your currency. Ensuring that you’re abreast of exchange rates is key to a successful trip. Not only will it mean you’ll avoid being ripped-off, but you can quickly estimate the cost of your expenses instead of worrying about the credit card bill at the end. Download the XE app — it's free and covers exchange rates for more than 180 currencies; an absolute must if you’re traveling to more than one city on any given trip.
During the Flight
1. Stick to a routine. There’s nothing more important than resting up on your trip and following a tried and tested method is a great way to ensure you do it. Try eating before you fly. This will allow you to get on board and switch off without fear of being woken up for dinner — but only if you remember to inform the flight attendant first. Wear comfortable clothes and don’t forget to brush your teeth. It may sound trivial, but sticking with a routine like this is the perfect way to de-stress and concentrate on getting some shut eye.
2. Relax. It might sound obvious, but lots of people don’t use their flight for the downtime they need. Whatever you do, don’t work on the plane. You don’t want to be the guy with the laptop screen blazing after the cabin lights have dimmed. Be prepared before you travel and don’t use the flight for last minute additions. Watch a movie instead.
3. Lay off the alcohol. As tempting as it might be to quaff a few glasses of red to relax, it’s best to avoid it. Stick to the water instead. A glass of wine might make you relax a little, but it will leave you feeling dehydrated — or hungover — when you arrive at your destination. Pack a few bags of chamomile tea in your hand luggage; it has the calming effect of alcohol without being a diuretic. Side note because I'm obsessed with tea and brands that have cool marketing: Mighty Leaf makes a yummy (and pretty) chamomile citrus and Republic of Tea does a good chamomile lemon.
4. Pack a change of clothes. Make sure you have a change of clothes in your hand luggage. It sounds simple, but there’s nothing quite like putting on a clean shirt before you land. Not only will you be good to go right after touch down, but it’s an excellent way to round-off your routine. With all these measures in place, you can look forward to a painless flight.
1. Don’t get stuck without Wi-Fi. A good internet connection is about as relevant as it gets for an entrepreneur on the road and a reliable Wi-Fi connection is key. There is an incredibly useful app called WiFi Finder that will track down paid and free Wi-Fi locations in more than 140 countries. The app is free and uses a database of more than 650,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.
2. Track your expenses. Another great app for business travelers is Expensify. It easily tracks what you’re spending on expenses, logs receipts and puts you’re your expense reports into PDF format. This handy little app even transfers your expenses directly from your bank account or credit card; There’s nothing more annoying than trying to deal with a mountain of receipts while you’re abroad and this great app is the perfect way to avoid it.
3. Make allies. The key to finding your feet in a new country? Make friends with the locals. Keep your hotel concierge’s number on your phone, it’s worth its weight in gold especially if you are visiting a country where your native tongue isn’t widely spoken. Try and use the same taxi driver, too. With a reliable driver, you’ll never be hunting for a cab again and you’ll get great insider information on the best places to eat and entertain.
4. Don’t experiment. It’s very important that you don’t treat your business trip like a vacation. You need to see it for what you hope it to be — a well-oiled, seamless string of meetings. For this reason, don’t experiment too much with the local cuisine. Don’t experiment with dishes you aren’t used to; the results can be disastrous. But of course, if a host offers it, the last thing you want to do is cause offense, just don't go overboard.
Photo credit: shutterstock.com/g/Evgeny+Bakharev