The Tricks of My Business Travel Trade

This post is sponsored by National Car Rental. I’m a paid influencer for them. While they have paid me for this post, the opinions and ideas in it are mine and mine alone. #ad #sponsoredpost

When you spend 250,000 miles a year on the road, (roughly the distance between Earth and the moon) you learn a few things about how to travel, how to pack, and how to exist without losing it several times a day. I love nothing more than giving that knowledge back, because not only is it nice to share, but if someone else becomes a speedier traveler because I helped them, then if I’m ever stuck behind them at Pre-Check or boarding, the good karma has come back around to me, as well.

The first thing you need to know about business travel is this: Most people who hate traveling or wind up in unrecoverable situations, arrive there primarily because of two reasons: lack of common sense, or a lack of ability to “roll with it” on the occasion that things don’t go 100% their way. If you don’t have those two things holding you back, business travel becomes a whole lot simpler.

Part A: The Tools

When you’re on the road as much as someone like me, a flight from NYC to LA becomes as routine as a commute into work on the Long Island Expressway. That is, it’s commonplace to me, and things that are commonplace don’t require extra steps to prepare, because chances are, we’ve prepared for it a long time ago.

For instance: In my suitcase, I keep a second set of everything I’d need in my bathroom at home. This way, I’m not constantly packing and unpacking, which sets me up for a definite “oh no, I forgot deodorant” moment. Rather, I keep a second set of those things in my bag at all times. I’m not talking about shampoo or soap – that stuff is always in the hotel bathroom. I’m talking about a toothbrush, my preferred brand of toothpaste, band-aids, dental floss, that kind of stuff.  Because it’s always in my bag, I never have to worry about forgetting it; and if I run out on the trip, I can head to the nearest pharmacy and restock.

The same thing goes for electronic peripherals. The $75 I spend to always have a laptop power cord in my suitcase is worth 400x that of the nightmare I’d have to go through when I board the plane and realize that the 14 hours of work I’d planned to do from EWR to NRT has been cut to as long as my battery lasts. (Don’t even mention the impending boredom for the rest of the flight, as well…) Keeping a second set of all your charging cables (and plugs! Don’t forget the plugs!) with you is beyond useful and prevents what would otherwise be a guaranteed bad day at some point in your travel career.

End result: The more things you can double-up and leave in your bag, the less you have to worry about forgetting.

With that said, though, don’t think for a second that I overpack. I don’t. I’m a minimalist business traveler. One roller bag and a travel vest (which I’ll get to in a second.) In almost 20 years of business travel, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve checked a bag. The wasted time (about 35 extra minutes each landing) simply isn’t worth it. Unless you’re going on a month-long business trip to a place where they don’t have laundry and dry-cleaning services, there’s no reason to pack more than three days’ worth of clothes. Spend the money to invest in a quality carryon roller bag that will last you for years. It’s worth the investment.

I’m not going to get into my clothing list, because I know everyone is different, so I’ll just say this: The less the better. When in doubt, leave it out. You can always buy it if you get somewhere and truly need it. (In fact, I tend to do my clothes shopping while on business trips; living in NYC, most places that aren’t in NYC tend to be cheaper, no matter what you’re buying.)

However, the one piece of clothing I do recommend and won’t travel without is my SCOTTEVEST. It’s a jacket with multiple pockets. My passport, money, keys, phone, extra SIM cards, they all live in this jacket. When I go through security, I just take the entire jacket off and run it through the x-ray machine. No hassle, no mess. They make products for men and women, and they’re as stylish as they are functional.

Part B: The Digital Tools

I can’t even remember how I traveled in the pre-smartphone era. I vaguely recall when airlines first came out with tickets you could show on your screens. You still had to carry a printed copy as well, because there was a really good chance that the airport didn’t have a scanner. Today, it’s a different story entirely.

In my last post, I talked about the value of being loyal to specific companies, like National Car Rental’s Emerald Club. Each of those companies has an app, and they should be your primary point of engagement with those companies. You can do most everything on these apps, and more importantly, once you’re logged in, the apps know your loyalty status, can alert you to upgrades (or delays), let you pick a new seat or rebook, all without ever having to talk to anybody. It’s like carrying a senior customer service rep in your pocket, but they already know who you are and what you need before you even open your mouth.

As an example, when I land in a city where I’ve rented a car, getting that car and being on my way is almost entirely automatic, which makes the experience so much better for me. I reserve my car with the National Rental Car Mobile App, and because I’m an Emerald Club member, I avoid the rental desk and walk right to the Emerald Aisle, where I pick any car I want! The only time I talk to a human is the 10 seconds when I show my license upon exiting the facility. I’ve saved my time, energy, and brainpower, and arrive at my destination faster and happier. Loyalty + Apps = a required winning combo for any business traveler.

I also love apps like TripIt and FlightAware, both of which make it so much easier to know where I’m going, how I’m getting there, and what problems I might encounter along the way.

Part C: Mental and Physical

Being on the road as much as I am, it’s all about staying in the right frame of mind, both mentally and physically. If I’m not in my best place in either of those categories, everything else suffers.

With that in mind, I make sure to always carry sneakers and workout clothes in my bag. When I get home from a trip, I throw them into the laundry and immediately replace them with a duplicate pair for my next trip. No excuses! Every hotel has a gym, and on the rare occasion where a gym isn’t accessible, stairs, parking lots, even the local streets can be your gym. I’ve run countless miles around hotel parking lots. Not only do you get a run in, but you get your hill work, too!

Mentally, it’s all about a smile for me. I know that things occasionally go wrong. That’s where a smile comes in. Think about it – would you rather complain and yell when something doesn’t go your way, or smile and accept that sometimes things don’t go right? I’ll do you one better – who do you think is going to get helped quicker when something goes wrong? The complainer who’s ranting and yelling, or the person who approaches the desk with a smile, speaks calmly, and explains the situation without raising their voice? I know who I’d prefer to work with.

Business travel can be a blast. Make sure you’re doing it the best way possible.

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