Have you got a business trip on the horizon? Maybe it's your first trip and you aren't completely sure what to bring, how to pack, or whether you should sign up for the loyalty program (you should!). Not to worry, we got you covered. Here are the Top 3 Business Trip Tips (plus a bonus tip!).
Do you want to add 30 extra minutes to your trip and take the chance your luggage gets lost? Then check a bag. Setting aside bag check fees (which ought to deter your enough), checking a bag means extra time at the front and back of your trip. Travelers have to wait in line, interact w/ staff to check your bag, and then you wait w/ the huddled masses for it to (hopefully) arrive on the baggage carousel on the other end. You can zip past all the schmucks waiting for their bags...and get the better rental car ahead of them or get to your favorite hotel bed that much quicker. While this approach of never checking a bag is somewhat controversial, most business travelers adhere to it with rare exceptions.
Packing light minimizes the stuff you have to haul around on y our trip and reduces the potential for you to have to check your bag (see tip 1!). Packing light and packing only the essentials makes it easier to fit your bag into an overhead bin, and reduces the hassle when you have to store it under your seat. When on a business trip (any trip for that matter) I do my best to use a single backpack and that's it. Yep, just a backpack. I can almost make an entire week work out of a good business travel backpack.
With good packing, and minimizing superfluous crap, I can fit a surprising amount of stuff into a single backpack allowing me to travel very efficiently. For example, if you wear jeans on day 1 you can wear them again on day 4, getting that room back in your bag. Wear your jacket w/ you on the plane so it doesn't have to go in the bag. Learn how to roll your clothes vs. fold so they store easier (and don't wrinkle as bad)! Skip the heavy book to save room (use your iPad or better yet, your Kindle Reader app on your phone). If you have to use a suitcase, get one that rolls well (preferably 4 wheeled), fits easy into the overhead compartment, and is durable enough to stand the rigors of regular travel.
Since you're going to be traveling, you might as well get some points and miles for it. Your company policies may make this more difficult (e.g. require you to use a house credit card or always book the cheapest airline) but do your best to stick with a single Airline, Hotel and Rental Car company. You can accumulate points and status quicker this way. For example, I most travel United Airlines, stay in Hilton Hotels, and rent Avis cars (against my better judgement...I'd prefer National). For years I traveled Southwest Airlines before company policy forced more toward United.
As a value member of these programs I earn perks, points/miles and excellent service. For example, Southwest offers early boarding privileges (which helps you get the best seat and stow your bag) for A-List status holders. Hilton gives various privileges like free breakfast, upgrades, extra points, snacks, and so on, to their higher tier members. And with Avis you can often get free upgrades to nicer cars. It always pays to stick with a single provider whenever you can.
Get the best credit card you can to maximize your points. It's likely you are getting reimbursed by your company and travel is expensive. If you can, use your personal credit card and start racking up the points. It might be easier to use a completely separate card for this, so you can track your expenses and not mingle them with your personal expenses (which can be a mess). Then use the points to get cash back, free vacations, and more.
A business trip is a great opportunity to see more of this world on the company dime. Whenever you get the chance to take one, do so!