The startup philosophy is all about being as efficient and effective as possible. So why should travel be any different?
When things are lean and traveling is a must, you can't waste time or money.
As a serial entrepreneur I have been on the road a lot over the years. From my earliest businesses to my latest endeavor, Porch.com, I have picked up quite a few habits that allow me to maximize my time out of the office.
1. Establish a routine and keep it.
Being a startup business owner is stressful enough, and the often hectic nature of traveling can magnify that stress. Like many things in life and business, look to automate what you can. I usually wear the same travel outfit, eat the same breakfast, (blueberry muffin and a decaf latte), and for short trips, pack the same things. Having a routine will lower your risk of decision fatigue and using something like a checklist will free your mind up to think about more important things on the trip like landing a new client or nailing a pitch.
2. Be the last one on the plane.
One thing I always try to do is be the very last person to board the plane. Why? You've already purchased the seat and it's not going anywhere (unless you happen to miss your flight), so by waiting for everyone else to board first, you can avoid wasting valuable minutes standing in the jetway. This also buys you a bit more time to do some last-minute work in the terminal using free airport Wi-Fi (if that is available).
3. If a trip is coming up, save non-urgent email replies for the plane.
I rarely buy Wi-Fi on flights, even the long ones. That's because I like to utilize flight time to catch up on all the non-urgent tasks that can best be done offline. This means clearing out the inbox or doing write-ups that require moments where you can dedicate time. When I land, the first thing I do upon debarking the plane is to connect to the airport Wi-Fi and send out all the emails and messages written during the trip.
4. Rock the redeye.
Don't want to pay for a hotel room on a short trip? Consider the redeye flight. I've saved myself thousands of dollars over the past decade simply by lining up a flight either very early in the morning or late at night to avoid having to stay over at a destination. I've taken countless 24-hour trips and though it can be a long day, you'd be surprised how efficient you can be with only a handful of hours at a destination.
5. Max out your time.
I'm a big proponent of trying to make the most of every possible opportunity in a startup. Traveling is no exception. When traveling, challenge yourself to see just how many appointments you can take in a 24-48 hour period. This could mean giving yourself some extra time for impromptu meetings by booking a return flight a few hours later than you actually need it. Then if you are unable to fill the time, most airlines will let you standby for an earlier flight for a very small fee.
Starting up is one of the most taxing and stressful experiences of a lifetime, so sometimes the best thing to do when traveling is to simply disconnect. Watch that movie you haven't had the time to see or read a book and unwind. You might just make your trip more efficient by giving yourself time to relax and get rejuvenated to attack your mission.