In the course of business, I inevitably find myself traveling frequently. I spend a number of days each month on the road or in the air. Our clients are located across the US and even in other countries, and we try to visit and meet with them regularly.
You may find that you also need to travel from time to time. Some people enjoy traveling – the excitement of seeing new places and meeting new people. Others may find it somewhat of a nuisance. Traveling can be frustrating at times. It is often difficult to be away from home and family for extended periods of time. Whatever your opinion is about traveling, we’d like to offer some tips to help make your trips more enjoyable, efficient, and productive.
- Plan Carefully.One way to save time and money in traveling is to strategically plan your trips ahead of time. Booking a trip earlier can save money on airfare. Combining locations or making creative use of excess time can increase productivity. By grouping your meetings together, you’ll cut down on the number of times you have to leave your office and home. You’ll also cut down on airfare, lodging, and other travel expenses.
- Pack Wisely.
Most people inevitable pack more clothes than they actually need. Find ways to combine outfits and lighten the load. I have a set of standard items I keep in my suitcase. These include a toiletries bag, a small shoeshine kit, several ties, and my bag of liquids and gels. Transfer the contents of larger bottles of cologne or hair products to smaller containers that meet the 3-ounce limit. Keep a small tube of toothpaste and an extra bottle of hotel-sized shampoo ready to go at all times.
- Use Rewards Programs.Every hotel chain, airline, and rental car service offers rewards points. Sign up for every program you can. These are free and the points can really add up over time. I have used my points for free hotel stays, free rental cars, and free flights — even internationally. There are many credit cards that offer rewards programs as well. The programs differ from card to card, so do your homework. I use two rewards cards: (1) the HAS Advantage Card for personal use (HAS provides rewards points that can be used like cash — plus a percentage of all my purchases goes to help Israeli charities); and American Express for business (though AMEX has an annual fee, it offers some features that are helpful in business and the points earned more than offset the cost).
- Allow Plenty of Time.How long it takes to go through security is always unpredictable. Plan to be at the airport in enough time. It is much better to wait a few extra minutes at the airport, than to run down the concourse with flailing arms trying to catch the plane before they shut the door. Also remember that flight schedules are far from consistent. While some airlines have better records than others, every airline faces delays or cancellations. Be sure you have time for Plan B in the event this happens to you.
- Prepare a Clear Itinerary.When you’re traveling a lot, the last thing you want to deal with is missing flight information or finding that you have the wrong phone number for your hotel. I have just started using a program called Worldmate Live to track the details of my trips. You can build each trip on the Worldmate website and then it easily shows up on your Blackberry or iPhone. All your necessary travel information will be available to you at the tip of your fingers. This program provides a quick solution for tracking all your travel info and easy access to reference it. While I am still getting used to the App, I like what I see.
There is so much more I could write about, but that is a good beginning. Whether you enjoy or dislike traveling, these tips are sure to make your trips (whether personal or for business) a little more efficient.
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