Traveling for business might have seemed like a dream perk when you first started doing it--but now it may feel more like just another added responsibility. However, business travel can be made a lot easier with the right gadgets, know-how and shortcuts. People get lazy when it comes to travel because any prep work, no matter how much time it may save in the long run, just seems like another dreary task on the to-do list. Let's cut through the noise and get straight to the best hacks, must-do tactics and tricks for making business travel a breeze.
1. CLEAR Things Up
CLEAR is currently the fastest way to get through airport security, and there's a special program just for businesses (although personal travelers can get CLEAR, too). All you have to do is sign up online or at one of the many centers in airports around the country, pay $179 per year (kids under 18 are free), and register in person. During registration, that's when you provide your ID, fingerprints and iris image. Then, get your CLEAR card in the mail and get on the literal fast track to your next destination, leaving those in line in the dust.
2. TSA Pre-Check
Unfortunately, CLEAR isn't at every airport (yet), so if you check your frequent itineraries and find that CLEAR doesn't work for you, there's always TSA Pre-Check. There are currently 11 airlines at 119 US airports participating in Pre-Check (more than CLEAR). You're automatically eligible if you're a frequent flier of one of the 11 participating airlines, or you can apply directly through the DHS Trusted Traveler's Program. Fees start at $50 for five years. If you become a member a code is printed onto each boarding pass allowing you to bypass the bulk of airport security.
3. Know the Airline Rules
It seems like airline and airport rules change as quickly as your travel itinerary. Follow your go-to airlines and airports on social media (Twitter is especially helpful) and know the rules before you arrive. Changes in dimensions to carry-on bags, weight, what ounces are allowed or what the deal is with shoe removal in a particular airport can save you a lot of hassle. Many longtime business travelers carry a luggage scale with them and seamstress tape for quick measurements.
4. Write Everything Off
All this talk of fees and programs starts to sound pretty expensive. Remember that it's all a write-off. Nothing beats a skilled CPA when it comes to business travel. Work with one year-round, not just during tax season, and get clued in on just how much you can save. "I write off everything from the valet parking at the airport to my breakfast croissants," says Art Petrosyan at E-Z Moving in Utah. "We're constantly taking trips moving people in and out of state. It's all eligible for a tax deduction if I'm doing company business."
If you travel for work much, just keep all your receipts, get serious about updating your tax spreadsheets, and don't let any dollar go unaccounted for. The future you in April of next year will thank you for it.
5. Carry Your Own Hot Spot
Believe it or not, there are still some airports where you have to pay (sometimes per minute!) for Wi-Fi, and several others have a subpar connection at best. The price to use Wi-Fi on the plane can vary drastically, and for many business travelers it just makes more sense to purchase your own Wi-Fi hot spot for trips. You can opt for daily, weekly, monthly or yearly packages and even though it can be expensive, you'll worry less over the quality of connection or hassle with registration in a crowded airport.
Once upon a time traveling for work might have seemed like an adventure. As it become more of a duty, much of the fun became drudgery. Business travel doesn't have to be such a headache though. With the right prep work and some tech gadgetry, you're in for a cushy ride, and possibly more time to relax.