I'd be the first to admit I'm neither productive nor frugal when it comes to business travel. I consider it a major win when I depart, and arrive, on or close to schedule. Everything else is gravy.
To be honest, when I compare my in-air work style to most of Inc.com's entrepreneurial, happy road warrior peers, I'll admit to being a positive Luddite.
So, in effort to light the candle (mine and yours), here are 10 quick tips to enhance productivity while lowering costs on your next business trip to Benton Harbor. (Note: These pearls of wisdom come courtesy of travel experts and Million Mile Secrets co-founders Daraius Dubash and Emily Jablon.)
I've grouped the tips under the general headings of productivity and profitability to expedite your boarding pass to a more enjoyable trip:
1.) Get thee to a Wi-Fi spot. The most important thing to have while traveling is reliable Internet service (I'd counter by saying a far more important goal is locating a seat as far away from a crying baby as possible). While there are many public networks, Jablon recommends you locate a secure connection or something faster. She says some companies will cover the costs under their travel & entertainment policies. In addition, some credit cards like the AMEX Platinum give you free access to BOINGO hotspots at airports.
2.) Finding refuge in the storm. In addition to being great places to obtain free Wi-Fi and the sublime sounds of silence, airport lounges are far better at re-booking if your flight is canceled or delayed by weather (an everyday occurrence in my case).
3.) Self-love. Stuff happens (Does it ever!). As you well know, there will be long delays and unexplained cancelations (always my favorite), so Dubash strongly suggests you connect with your inner self and remain cool, calm and collected (Far easier said than done in my case). This helps you to stay focused, leading to improved creativity when trying to find a solution during those turbulent moments.
4.) Bring the heavy ammunition. In addition to ear plugs and an eye mask, bring along a bottle of Melatonin (a natural supplement that helps you sleep). I'd agree the amount of sleep one's able to enjoy en route has a direct impact on one's productivity, or lack thereof, when one touches down.
5.) "Miss, do you have extra shaving cream and toothpaste?" Dubash keeps a separate toiletry bag, filled with everything he needs in order to prevent fumbling around at the last second transferring items from his bathroom to his suitcase (I've tried to do this but have failed miserably and invariably end up asking a hotel clerk for stuff I overlooked).
6.) AwardWallet. Jablon uses this to keep track of her airline and hotel awards accounts and point balances. Since she strongly recommends using the same airline(s) and hotel(s), she easily racks up points that can be redeemed for free vacations (That's what I call the friendly skies).
7.) The beauty of the business credit card. Many banks offer excellent spending rewards, such as cash back, bonus miles and points for travel and dining. Jablon cites a recent weekend round-trip to the Big Apple in which her flight cost less than 20,000 miles. I'll bet she got nailed on her cab ride, though.
8.) The E-Z Pass of Flying. I'm about to undergo the half-hour interview and pay the $100 required for the Global Entry program. Dubash notes that G.E. not only frees you up from standing on those interminably long lines at customs and immigration, but also includes TSA pre-access (a true gift from God). The latter not only saves you scads of time on security lines but also enables you to zip through without removing your laptop, shoes or jacket. It's the E-Z pass of flying.
9.) Put the pedal to the metal. Joining the rental car companies' loyalty programs is a true blessing in disguise. It enables you to avoid the long lines of Clark Griswold-type vacationers who easily add 30 minutes and a severe migraine while you wait to claim your car. Loyalty programs enable you to walk right to your automobile, slip in the keys and proceed to getting hopelessly lost trying to find your hotel.
10.) Think ahead. Download all of your e-mails before boarding your flight. Then, as you wait for a mechanic to board and fix a light bulb that's not functioning correctly in the cockpit, you can catch-up on all 599 unread e-mails and turn your attention to more relaxing things such as catching up on Malcolm Gladwell's latest book.