7 Things We Can All Learn from Business Travelers

Business travelers are a world apart from the rest of us, even from some of the most savvy travelers. When you travel for a living, day in and day and out, with your livelihood and productivity dependent on your ability to quickly get from place to place via plane, you pick up a trick or two.

This week, we’ve been exploring the world of business travel, sharing tips from business travelers on how you can travel better, no matter how often or infrequently you fly.

From packing and going through security to how to behave once you’re on the ground, here are a few more things all travelers can learn from those who do it for a living.

Pack light

The benefits of packing light have been extolled again and again. But when it comes down to it, business travelers can’t afford to show up for a meeting in a new country with no appropriate clothes to wear. And really, you can’t either. Sure you have more time to go shop for replacement clothes when you’re on a vacation, but for most of us, every minute counts. Don’t waste your precious vacation time trying to track down checked luggage or shopping for clothes to replace what was lost.

Don’t forget important toiletries

Sure, it’s easy to toiletries in most any country, or simply ask for them at the hotel front desk. But if you’re partial to certain brands of shampoo or soap, it can be disappointing to be caught without it for a week. The same holds for makeup, which is expensive to replace. Rather than worry about packing everything you need each time you on a trip, one FlyerTalk forum member recommends you put together a travel toiletry kit that stays in your suitcase when you are home. That way you’ll always have it ready when it’s time to go.

Get through security quickly

Business travelers don’t like to waste time in the security lines. They seem to have the act of undressing for the TSA down to a science. Know the rules of what you can and can’t bring on a plane and start getting ready before you step up to the security area. If you are traveling with a laptop, invest in a laptop case that allows you to leave your laptop in it when it goes through the xray. You’ll save time and reduce the risk that your computer will get banged up. And keep an eye on your stuff while you go through security; you don’t want to leave anything behind of find that someone else has walked away with it.

Loyal (and nice!) customers get rewarded

You may not travel enough to earn elite status on your favorite airline or score a few free nights of lodging at your preferred hotel chain, but every point adds up, so sign up for every reward or loyalty program you can, even if you don’t think you’ll travel enough to make it worth it. Signing up doesn’t take much time and could equal some perks or upgrades down the line. If you can, try to stay at the same chain or fly the same airline as often as possible. Over the course of a year, the points could make a difference. And while the old tale of dressing nicely and being rewarded with a first class upgrade is now nothing more than legend, being nice to travel professionals can make your trip more pleasant. If slip a little gift to the crew on your next flight, you may find yourself in a better seat or the recipient of a complementary glass of wine. And on a long flight, every little perk helps.

Get ahead of the crowds if something goes wrong

By know it’s common knowledge that should something go wrong with your flight (for example, if its canceled), you should quickly call customer service rather than waiting in the long line at the airport. Having the customer service numbers stored in your phone will help you get just a little further ahead of the crowd. Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have the customer service numbers for your airlines and hotels store in your phone.

Pick the right seat

Where you sit on the airplane shouldn’t be a lottery, especially as the wrong location can make a pleasant flight into a nightmare, so check SeatGuru to find the best seat on your flight. Checking in as close as possible to the 24-hours-in-advance mark will get you the best chance of an upgrade if you are a frequent flyer. If not, you can always ask for a better seat once you arrive at the gate. On long flights, head to the back of the plane to scope for empty seats. Often you can score a seat in a totally empty row, which means you can stretch out and sleep the whole flight.

Be professional at all times

Business travelers know that their ability to avoid a cultural faux pas can make or break a deal so they take the time to learn local customs before heading to a meeting in a foreign place. Though millions of dollars may not be riding on your ability to be respectful, it’s still wise to do the same.

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Photo by juicyrai



Comments on 7 Things We Can All Learn from Business Travelers

2wanderers
04 August 2011

I travel both for business and pleasure, at different times. The attempt to equate the two is incorrect, and some of these statements are flat out wrong:
- Pack lightly: packing a carry-on for a business trip is easy, since they’re generally only 1-2 nights. The tradeoffs of a (miniscule) chance of lost or delayed luggage vs. having to do laundry every day or two is different when you’re traveling for weeks or months. Some people still go the carry-on route, but suggesting it’s the way to go becasue business travelers do it is non-sensical.
- Picking the right seat, and loyally using the same airline and/or hotel chain are also very different for business travelers. The extra $50 to $100/night for a chain hotel, or the extra $400 for the second-cheapest flight has very different implications when it goes on an expense report to a multi-million dollar company than when it comes out of your personal bank account. Same thing for the extra $30 to reserve your preferred seat.
- Call customer service number instead of waiting in line:
– Clearly this “common knowledge” has never spent 4 hours on hold only to be told that because there’s a fare increase to get the flight they need, and the South American call centre can’t take credit cards, so you’ll actually have to go stand in line anyway.

Business travel and personal travel are two very different beasts.

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