7 Tips for the Newbie Business Traveler

When you’re new to business travel it can be tough to get your bearings, especially if you’ve never flown before or have never been to your destination city. My very first multi-city weeklong business travel experience was two years ago, just a few short months after starting at Concur, and in the time since I’ve picked up great techniques that carry over nicely into personal travel.

1.     Roll your own. Rolled garments fit into your bag’s nooks and crannies in ways folded clothes can’t. With rolled clothes even the heaviest packer can get away with an 18” Pullman carryon bag plus “personal item” for a five-day trip, eliminating the need for a checked bag. Fold garments in half just once to form long strips, and then roll them up sleeping-bag-style. Fold garments too many times before rolling and they wrinkle during the flight, but one fold seems to keep garments wrinkle-free.

2.     Carry the weight on your shoulders. Backpacks may not look suave, but they are practical “personal items” for heavy items like laptops and notebooks. They distribute weight evenly across your back, fit nicely under the seat in front of you, and allow for more weight than a shoulder bag. Plus, their pockets are excellent for keeping organized on the go. I use REI’s Traverse for its extra pockets, hip clasp for weight distribution, and its light weight.

3.     Extra plastic zipper bags. Everyone knows that liquid items in your carryon must be stored in plastic zipper bags, but having one or two extras can come in extremely handy. Zipper bags break requiring you to replace the one you started with. They’re also good for storing dirty clothes during travel. If you’re the sort of business traveler who likes to run or work out while you’re on the road, having a zipper bag for used gym socks can prevent your luggage from becoming an embarrassing stink bomb.

4.     Make the most of a work trip. If you can swing it, take advantage of your company’s travel policy. If staying until Saturday saves your company a few bucks on airfare you may only have to pay for a night’s hotel stay and end up having a great mini-vacation. Extending your stay will give you an opportunity to look around and discover the best that city has to offer. Ask your travel manager whether company policies allow for it.

5.     Bruised Mary. In-flight food is becoming simultaneously more expensive and less appetizing no matter what airline you fly. When the time comes to take mid-flight victuals, consider consuming your nutrition in liquid form rather than forking over for an icky “snack pack.” Bloody Mary mix – sans vodka – is filling, tasty and packed with vitamins that will get you through a three-hour flight.

6.     Think like a body builder. Layovers can mean no meal for hours. Performance energy food like protein shakes and bars intended for athletes pack a lot of nutrients into a small space. When your flight gets canceled and the only dining option is fast food, Clif Shot Bloks  or protein powders are a much healthier option. Save your per diem for steak house dinners with colleagues, not the burger hut at LAX.

7.     Think global. A passport is easier to find than a driver’s license in your purse or carry-on bag. It’s big and stands out. Passports are easy to keep track of and can be protected in leather billfolds that hold boarding passes and other information like your proof of insurance card.

Everyone, no matter what their level of business travel experience, has tips they use to make their trips enjoyable, efficient, and even memorable. What are yours?

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