Regardless of your profession, some degree of business travel will almost always be required. Traveling in and out of airports, cabs, hotels, and offices can be tiring and uncomfortable, especially if you haven’t set a strategy. We’re not suggesting that you spend hours on a game plan, but rather follow a few simple and easy to implement steps to ensure the greatest degree of speed and comfort as you weave in and out of cities across the world.
Booking Travel – Most of the time your company or institution will have set protocol and travel partners. Many companies use a travel and expense system like Concur, which can be used to book travel and expense items during the trip. The two most important things to keep in mind when booking any travel are cost and travel time. If you are scheduled to arrive in a major commuter city like San Francisco between 7am-9am or 3-6pm, it would be a good idea to try to find another flight. Unless your hotel or office is minutes away from the airport, arriving in a major city during rush hour can delay arrival at your final destination by hours.
The Departure – It is recommended that any passenger arrive at the airport 2 hours before their departure. Is that really necessary? Sadly, in many cases it is. Many cities are outgrowing their airports, which cause extreme lines or relocation of entire airports (as is the case with Denver’s airport) to 20 miles outside city limits. If you are returning a rental car or are required to spend time on shuttles or trains to your terminal, we recommend arriving 2 hours prior to departure of your flight. If you are parking or getting a ride to the airport a safe lead time would be 90 minutes prior to flight departure.
To carry-on or not to carry-on – Whenever possible, we strongly recommend NOT checking a bag. Checking a bag is sometimes necessary (traveling with family, extended vacations, larger items), but if it can be avoided it should be. Introducing another variable that is out of your control can only cause problems with travel. If your items can fit in a smaller bag, use that smaller bag and carry it on. Across all airlines, the percentage of checked luggage that does not arrive on time or is lost in transit is close to 5%. If you travel often enough and check a bag each time, odds are you will have to deal with this at some point.
The Flight – More and more airlines are adding in-flight features (especially for flights over 2-3 hours). Despite this trend, don’t rely on the airline to entertain you during the flight. We recommend downloading a movie, bringing a book/e-reader, or have work that doesn’t require an internet connection. Most airlines send out pre-flight emails 1-2 days prior to departure. Browse the email for information on in-flight WIFI. If it is offered, you now have the option of catching up on email. We also recommend bringing snacks. In general, airlines are always looking for ways to cut costs. In many cases, this manifests itself in the form of cutting food and drink. The bottom line is don’t rely on the flight itself for food or entertainment.
The Arrival – Most airports have clear signage, which shows areas for baggage claim, rental cars or shuttles, and other airlines/gates. Make sure you figure out the correct direction to walk before starting your journey. It may sound simple, but in larger airports the distance between two connecting gates can be a 15-20 minute walk. Heading in the wrong direction for any amount of time can lead to missed connection flights and more unnecessary time spent in the airport. Finally, make sure to research the distance between the airport and your destination in your city of arrival. This will help you choose the best method of transportation. In some cases a taxi or Uber is the best bet. In others interestingly enough, the quickest way is public transportation. If you value travel convenience and freedom over speed, you might want to look into car rentals.
Overall, the best way to ensure safe, efficient, and stress-free travel is to do a bit of research. A little planning ahead of time can save a big headache while traveling. All road warriors who apply this information will win the war against business travel!