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A job that requires regular travel – for many people that’s a dream! But after you’ve spent two-thirds of the year on the road, as many business travelers do, you realize that without proper preparation, jet setting can very quickly become more of a nightmare than a dream come true.
George Clooney summed it up perfectly in Up in the Air: “The difference between having to check luggage and fitting everything into a carry-on is a week’s worth of time spent waiting in line.” As a frequent flier you very quickly establish an arsenal of hacks and tricks for navigating airports, landing elusive upgrades, and snagging the very first cab.
So if your life revolves around airport terminals and hotel suites, then this is the post for you. Training yourself to be a better business traveler with the following tips will mean saving on both money and time, becoming far more productive at work, and lessen the stress on both your body and your mind!
7 Travel Hacks Every Business Traveler Should Know
#1 Get Served First by Ordering a Special Meal
By planning ahead and requesting a special meal (gluten free or vegetarian, for instance), you’ll be served yours first before everyone else.
You can throw your napkin down before the rest of the cabin has finished answering “chicken or fish”, and get to sleep before the full dinner service has even made it to your row.
#2 Download Your Airline’s App
Among the many, many travel apps which now exist to make your life as a business traveler easier, most airlines have invested serious dollars into developing their own.
This will mean real-time updates on gate changes and delays, and even paperless boarding at most airports. So don’t worry about kicking back in the lounge with a glass of wine and missing the boarding call – you’ll receive an update when it’s time to go straight to your phone.
You can also look into mobile apps like GateGuru which also provide weather reports, estimated security wait times, airport amenities, etc. It’s about avoiding the last-minute stress.
Airports may restrict the size of the liquids you can carry on, though I bet you’ve never stopped to think that what’s in the container doesn’t really matter.
You’ll find as long as it’s under 3.4 oz, you can generally carry on any kind of liquid, and that includes mini liquor bottles, too. Enjoy your own drink for free instead of paying over inflated rates in the lounge.
#4 Invest in a Worldwide Adapter
If you’ve had to travel throughout various countries on short notice you’ll understand the importance of having a worldwide adapter on hand. And it’s a brilliant investment for the ease of knowing you’re electronics are going to stay charged throughout your trip, regardless of the destination you’re in. A good international adapter will work in around 150 countries.
If you find you’ve landed and arrived at the hotel without one, make a beeline for the front desk and flash the receptionist that winning smile – a lot of the time they will have drawers full of international adapters that other travelers have forgotten in the room and left behind.
#5 Fly on a Boeing 767
Choosing a plane is often just as important a consideration as choosing a time and date for your flight. To maximize comfort, avoid flying on a puddle jumper whenever possible, and if deciding between similar flights and one is on a Boeing 767, go for the 767 every time. This plane has less middle seats than other air-crafts.
Sites like seatguru.com exist for scoping out up-to-date seating charts for every single flight, and these will offer insight into which rows don’t recline, which seats are too close to the bathroom, or whether you have the option of snagging any extra legroom.
#6 Avoid Long Cab Queues by Detouring to Departures
Once you’ve touched down, it’s then essentially a race to collect your luggage and make a beeline for the cab queue before you find yourself stuck in a massive line. These have been known to snake around arrivals for miles. Can you say New York City.
Though if you haven’t quite managed to beat the queue, quickly turn around and head up to departures. There’s no competition for cabs in the departure zone; people are getting dropped off, and you can simply jump in as they’re jumping out.
#7 Join a Rewards Club for Internet Which is Fast and Free!
One of the biggest frustrations of a business traveler is having to pay for internet and it’s still not fast enough. Obviously internet is important for everyone, though for business travellers it’s a required part of their job.
If you’re still paying for internet at your regular business hotels it’s worthwhile looking into rewards club memberships like IHG® Rewards Club; fast, reliable internet is included at any of the 4,900 IHG® hotels in the world!
And while signing up for the rewards club for internet perks, be sure to create a free IHG Business Advantage account at the same time – a free, easy to use and secure travel management system allowing you to manage, control and organise your company’s accommodation bookings and expenditure. Having one hotel business account makes the booking, payment and expenses process of accommodation much easier.
Thank you Megan for the tips, however I have been adviced holding a loyalty card from one airline ,not to order a special meal if I’m looking for free upgrade to business class, if the Economy seats are fulls. priorities will be given to person flying alone and have no special meal requirement . This advice from a senior airline staff, maybe it’s that particular airline policy .
As well, for tip number 6, it will not work everywhere , taxis in some airports will be fined if they are taking passengers at the departure zone. They are allowed to drop passengers only , and leave empty .
Thanks for sharing your experience Abdulla – an interesting point re the special meals in economy possibly preventing upgrades. I wouldn’t have personally thought it would have been something which prevents it, because generally business class gets served first anyway, but as you mentioned, maybe it’s an each airline to their own procedures kind of thing :)
And noted on the cab trick not working everywhere, my gosh though it’s amazing when it does!
I love the suggestion of finding a cab at departues – never thought of it that way to be honest. I know that in many places, cabs are very regulated but I’m sure nobody would even notice actually when you hop on a taxi there. I’ll definitely keep this in mind for future travels. Thanks!!
Generally I’ve just managed to slip on into them without much fuss being made. I’m sure they are regulated in some cities as Abdulla above mentioned, though if you’re heading back and forth from the same place for business often and find that this works, you’re gold!
even if I’m not a business traveler those hacks are really useful also for someone who moves around for fun! I’ve never really thought about ordering a special menu but it definitely makes sense! And I flew with boeing 767 few times and really felt much better afterwards, even after 10 or so hours flight! Jetlag wasn’t as awful as usual then!
Absolutely Kami – fantastic for the general traveler to keep in mind also; the special menu food in particular. I usually do that on every trip, it’s just so much smoother than waiting for the actual meal service to come through!
And there really is something to be said about flying on a larger plane – as soon as I figured out you could actually see information about the plane before booking a flight that’s been a consideration as to which flight I take :)
We got an upgrade when we were going to Kuala Lumpur, and they had to wait until the catering staff bought on our new meals. I have ordered special menu’s often because i get hungry on flights. All sensible suggestions
Glad you enjoyed the post Paula – and congrats on the upgrade! I need to organize scoring one of those on some of my upcoming flights!!
Great tips. Literally very useful for the business traveler. I am not one of them but I often make use of #7, especially during long layovers, that is very important. Also, travel adaptors and extension plugs are something that I usually bring with me. I don’t want to ran out of sockets to plug my gadgets for documentation.
Thanks Karla – we made sure we were traveling on rewards programs all throughout the States during our most recent road trip, and it really does all add up over time – we had 3 months worth of free internet in the end. Gotta love those rewards!
I never thought about taking a taxi from the departure gate. It’s a great idea! I see that it might not be possible everywhere, but it’s a nice option to try. The BYOB tip is a favorite of my parents :) My step-dad always has at least 1 little bottle for flying.
Definitely a good option to try, and especially for business travelers who fly in and out of the same airport, if you can figure out a trick to make it work then you’re golden!
Haha glad to hear I’m not the only one who smuggles in a little bit of BYOB :D!
Thinking back as my old corporate self, indeed these tips would have surely helped! Great job, Megan for compiling these all. (But then again, some of these tips are also already helpful for any traveler).
Glad you can see the use in the tips Aileen. And I agree – a lot of them are useful for general travelers too :) Happy travels!
Love the idea of ordering a special meal. I hate waiting for the food to eventually come around (not that I am overly eager about airline food!) Also, great tip on the cabs!
Isn’t it the best! So much better having your meal brought straight out for you as opposed to waiting for the food service to make their way through the whole cabin and then you :)
Bringing liquor in those small bottles is brilliant – especially since you can always grab some of the other liquids you’d normally bring…like mouthwash at one of the airport stores after security. The mouthwash would also come in handy for AFTER your drinks in the lounge!! ;)
Lol that’s very true Carolann! But absolutely – as long as you’re under the liquid requirements you’re set :)
I do love the tip about getting a cab from departures- it’s a simple solution, now why didn’t I think of that?! Really good tips for all travelers Megan!
The simplest solutions are often those that we never stop to think about!
Great suggestions! I love the idea of ordering a special meal – from what I hear they are typically better. But re: bringing your own mini-bottles of alcohol – don’t airlines have regulations prohibiting that?
The special meals really are generally better – I guess because they’re probably not as mass produced. Who knows! But I do love getting it at the very start of the meal service rather than waiting for the cart to make it through the whole cabin, especially if you’re at the back.
Re the alcohol, certain airlines may prohibit it, though getting it past security to enjoy it in the lounge before boarding has never been an issue :)
It’s against airline rules to consume your own alcohol during a flight. Also, in most airport you can’t consume your own alcohol either.
In reference to the cabs, most airports and this is usually where the queues are Ling don’t allow the cans to pick up passengers at departure.
You are better off saying go to departures to be picked up as it is usually less congested than arrivals.
Hi Kerwin, thanks for the thoughts. It probably is against most airlines policy to consume your own alcohol during a flight, though I’ve never had a problem with getting it through security to enjoy in the lounge before you head out to board. Which is what the suggestion re saving money on the prices in the lounge was for :)
And great tip re getting picked up in departures. Noted on the cab trick not working everywhere, my gosh though it’s amazing when it does!
Great travel tips. Having a worldwide adapter is especially important for business travelers because connecting to the internet and electronic world is essential in the modern business world.
Thanks Mary – yep the electronic adapter is essential; so easier to have just the one adapter that covers the whole world. I remember when I was younger my dad used to travel a lot for business and had so many adapters to sort through to find the right country. Much simpler this way round!
I’m not a frequent business traveler, but could definitely benefit from these tips! Will have to look into joining rewards clubs for the free fast internet. Always a struggle to find. I also had no idea/never thought of bringing mini liquor bottles to the airport. Genius! :)
Yes, rewards clubs are definitely an amazing idea for free internet – so many hotels charging an arm and a leg for it these days! Normally if I’m on a local vacation I just rely on the data from my phone plan, though there’s no way I’m leaving that on when I’m overseas, so rewards programs are def the way to go :)
A Power bank has to be one of my most essential items these days, I certainly recommend!
Absolutely Reuben – great tip! And there are so many portable power banks hitting the market now too that there’s really no reason for your battery to run low :)