Traveling for business can sometimes be stressful. Though it becomes more manageable after you've been a few flights, noticed a pattern, and developed a strategy. However, business travel during the holidays is far from relaxing. In fact, it's taxing on your nerves and patience, and it can be downright infuriating at times.
And even though everyone wants to be anywhere else during the holidays, business travel is inescapable for some. For those few souls who have to close deals or mend relationships during the holidays, here are a few tips for making business travel bearable this holiday season.
1. Take the path less traveled.
One thing's for sure during the holiday season -- everyone wants to get where they have to go as quickly as possible. Infants, parents, grandparents, college students, and business travelers are all trying to make it to their destination. No one wants to deal with the harsh environment longer than they have to. For that reason, they take to the skies.
While a plane is the most desirable option, it might not be the best for you. Consider the time spent getting to the airport early, waiting to board, possible delays, the flight time, and finally waiting for luggage. If these nearly equal the amount of time spent driving, on a coach, or even on a train, consider these alternative options.
If this is a last minute trip and you do need to fly, consider alternate airports that are a bit further out of the city. If you are able to, drive part of the way to take advantage of travel time.
2. Do your research.
Weather delays and cancellations can turn a trip that's supposed to be 4 hours into one that requires 3 or 4 more hours. Before you book your flight, make sure that the airport you're flying to isn't known for snow storms, delayed flights, or cancellations. The last thing you want is to not get there or back home on time.
3. Pack only what you absolutely need.
Airports are tremendously busy during the holiday season, posing a higher risk of your bag being lost or misplaced. Eliminate as much risk as possible by sticking to a carry-on. You will have your belongings with you at all times and you won't have to wait at the baggage claim for your items. Just be sure to know the baggage and carry-on rules for the airline(s) you are flying with.
4. Ship the rest.
Depending on how serious your trip is, you might need more than a few pairs of clothing. If you have to make a presentation and need your material from the office, then ship it to the business's address. You can overnight items through UPS and FedEx or use a service that's designed to ship your suitcase for you, such as DUFL.
5. Check-in online.
Checking in online 24 hours before your plane departs can let you bypass the check-in counter. Plus, you may be able to pick your seats before the other passengers, simply from checking-in.
6. Take advantage of your loyalty program.
Use your frequent flyer status to get access to lounges and better seating. The best business credit cards usually come with travel perks that you can apply to help make the trip more enjoyable. It'll drastically improve your mood if you're able to relax more before and during your flight.
7. Be prepared for things to go wrong.
We all know that life is unpredictable. If your business trip is complete but you're still in the city because of weather problems, have a backup plan. Make sure to look for flexible options at every turn.
8. Carry cash.
I started carrying cash with me when I had to wait in line for 45 minutes to pay for my dinner because the card machine was down. That happened at a restaurant during the off-season. Who knows what can happen and how long you'll have to wait if the same scenario happens when you're in a rush.
To make holiday business travel bearable, your main objective should be to eliminate and reduce as much risk as you can. Use these tips to your advantage so you can handle business and come back home with enough time to relax with your family.