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5 Tips For Better Business Travel

by Mr Credit Card

This is a guest post by Bucksome, a baby boomer trying to make the most of her money while saving for retirement. Read more about her at Buck$ome Boomer’s Journey to Retirement. Subscribe to her RSS feed to follow new posts.

My work requires occasional business travel throughout the year to client sites and conferences. When I started traveling for business it was a much more enjoyable experience as airplanes were less crowded, served free meals (with silverware) and security screening was a breeze. We all know that’s not the case today.

I can’t really blame the airlines for packed flights and nickel and diming us when you look at the price of flights. Ticket prices were regularly 2-3 times higher 15 years ago than they are today (without adjusting for inflation).

Even so there are benefits to business travel as well as hidden costs. With planning and a few easy steps you can make business travel a better experience.

Loyalty Programs

Join all the membership travel programs you can whether its for airlines, hotels or rental car agencies. Not just for the miles or points which can result in free travel (like credit cards reviewed at Ask Mr. Credit Card). The other reason you want to sign up for these programs is the perks received during travel.

Hotels may offer free drinks, upgraded rooms or breakfast to award program members. Being driven straight to the rental car and avoiding the check-in line removes stress after traveling all day. All you have to do is sign up for the agency loyalty program.

Unless you accrue a lot of miles on a single airline being a frequent flyer is not likely to get you upgraded. But if they have to bump someone and if everything else is equal being a frequent flyer member may tip the scale so you make the flight.

Travel Timing

If at all possible avoid business trips during high-volume travel times. Spring breaks and two weeks before Christmas are awful. Not only are the planes full but the travelers are not experienced. Lack of experience results in these travelers’ transactions taking more time meaning longer waits at check-in, security and even food kiosks.

Another timing tip is being selective about which days of the week to travel. I loathe traveling on weekends and especially Friday nights because again this is a busy time for leisure travelers.

Choosing a Hotel

At first, it’s fun to stay in “fancy” hotels and order room service. That wears off fast and the priorities when selecting a hotel change. My priorities are breakfast, workout room, Internet access and a restaurant onsite or within walking distance. I don’t want to have to pay for the Internet access or breakfast either.

This means my hotel of choice is a Courtyard or Hampton Inn instead of the Four Seasons or Westin.

Advance Check-in

Part of the flight experience has to do with where you’re sitting. Business travel is often not planned far enough in advance to either be assigned a seat or avoid the dreaded middle seat.

Always check-in online as soon as offered by the airline and select a better seat. I do this even when I have my preferred aisle trying to score the exit row or at least be closer to the front of the plane for faster exit.

If you are checking baggage some airlines charge a lesser fee if done in advance online so you can save your company some money as well.

Be Prepared

When flying dress for a quick trip through security. It’s not the day to wear that studded belt. This means slip-on shoes and light jewelry for me. I also organize my carry on items in advance to ease the screening process.

If the travel day will last more than a couple of hours bring or food before boarding. Many flights I’ve been on sell out of the onboard food items leaving passengers further back with hunger pangs.

Summary

Business travel doesn’t have to be a bad experience. Use these tips and have an impact on your next trip.

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