The amount of time you spend meeting, connecting, and talking with your colleagues, customers and investors is often directly proportional to the success of your business. How else can you better know what service to provide or where the market is going? Particularly when you first start, "traveler" may as well be on your business card right next to "founder".
You probably can't (and shouldn't) splurge on first class flights and fancy luggage, but there are relatively affordable tools and services that can improve your travel. Here are my essentials for smooth entrepreneurial travel:
1. Travel credit card: As you probably noticed, flying has become a nickel-and-dime affair - $25 for checked-in bags, $10 to reserve your seat, and so on. It's actually smarter to commit to a particular airline (to marshal up your frequent flyer points towards free flights) and get the sponsored credit card. The most basic cards give you free checked baggage, frequent flyer points for charges and discounts on airline-related purchases, usually for no annual fee.
2. Lounge access: Airport lounges sound fancy and expensive, and some of them are, but you should view them more as a refuge during your travels. Each airline has its own clubs at most airports, and there are third-party lounges, too, many offering complementary food and drink, quiet space to work and even showers to freshen up. (All especially helpful for introverted entrepreneurs like myself.) Day passes are available, but if you travel a lot, it's worth purchasing an annual pass, getting complementary lounge access through a credit card or joining a third-party lounge network like Priority Pass. On my last business trip, I was stranded in Chicago O'Hare for several hours - and I was able to relax in the lounge rather than sitting at a crowded gate.
3. First class with points and upgrades: No, you shouldn't pay full price for first class flights - it's not worth it. It would be foolish to turn away the free food and drinks, more work space and quieter cabin, though! There are many ways to get to first class without breaking the bank, including using frequent flyer miles to purchase your flights or getting elite status on a particular airline to get complementary upgrades on every flight. As far as qualifying for elite status, flying exclusively on a specific airline helps your chances of ranking.
4. Portable charger: Buying a portable, rechargeable power source is cheap, but being stuck somewhere without phone or laptop power can be very, very expensive. It is worth paying a little extra for the international adapter, too, for any worldwide travel. Just remember to charge them before you head to the airport.
What are your travel must-haves?