As someone who travels over 175,000 miles a year, I know first hand how delayed flights, long layovers and sleepless nights can put a big damper on travel plans.
While you can cut corners when traveling, sometimes putting a little extra thought and effort can go a long way. Use these 10 travel hacks to make your next trip stress-free while traveling like a pro.
1. Take The First Flight Out
The early bird catches the worm and the seasoned traveler catches the first flight out. It pays to set your alarm a little earlier and catch a flight in the morning rather than later in the day. Flights departing between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. are often the most on-time. If your early flight does end up being cancelled, it's easier to find an alternative flight that same day.
2. Fly Direct
How much is your time and peace of mind worth? If a direct flight costs $125 more than one with a connection and a 4 hour layover, ask yourself how much you value arriving at your destination earlier and with less hassle. With a direct flight, you'll be more productive than if you'd wasted energy switching from plane to plane.
3. Dress Nice--Get Upgraded
While you want to choose clothes that you'll be comfortable in for your flight, my experience is that people treat you better when you're dressed well. If there's an open seat, the airline staff probably won't upgrade someone in flip flops and sweatpants. Dress like you should be flying first class and others might decide you should be, too.
4. Don't Skimp On Hotels
A great night's sleep is critical. If you can, spend a the extra money and stay at a good, safe hotel. Take advantage of any points you've collected to upgrade your room for a more relaxing experience. Having a comfortable space you can return to between meetings and seminars will help you decompress.
5. Skip the Room Service
You shouldn't cheap out when choosing a hotel, but paying the 18% service charge on a late night snack isn't the wisest move for a cost conscious business traveler. Instead, eat food in the hotel restaurant or order in from a local spot. Both are just an elevator ride away and you'll end up with something that's more reasonably priced.
6. Select Your Seats When Booking
Amateurs forget to do this. Don't let the airline squish you into a middle seat or place you in the dreaded last row. Take a moment when checking in to look at all the available seats and choose the best one. You'll thank yourself in the eleventh hour when you have a window to lean up against when trying to sleep.
7. Bring Your Own GPS
Rental car GPS systems can be pretty terrible. Don't risk missing your turn and instead, bring your own. Keep it up to date with latest software so it can take you to your destination on time. And definitely don't use your phone--calendar reminders and calls will be a distraction while you're driving.
8. Eat Healthy
Deep dish pizza in Chicago, tonkatsu in Tokyo, butter chicken in Mumbai--every city has a signature dish that you have to try. While you shouldn't deprive yourself, it's still important to eat healthy when you're on the road. Travel with a TSA-approved blender, bring protein powder and make your first stop after leaving the airport a grocery store.
9. Invest in Airline Lounge Plan
If you spend tons of time at the airport, invest in an airline lounge pass. On average they cost between $100 and $550 a year. While that may sound pricey, it often includes all the snacks and drinks you would purchase anyway. Plus, as a business traveler, in most lounges you'll have access to a shower, a desk and opportunities to network. Can you really put a price on comfort and convenience?
10. Loyalty Wins
Yes, sometimes you just have to go for the best rate when a cheap flight offer presents itself. More often than not, it pays to be a frequent flyer. Fly enough with one company and you'll receive a loyalty card, which can get you discounts on things such as checked baggage fees, access to club lounges and free upgrades.