Most people would agree that the pleasure of experiencing new places is what often makes business travel so enjoyable. On the flipside, the process of traveling can drain you of your capacity to do the work you need to do, or enjoy your newest destination, before you even arrive.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz recently acknowledged that airline travel has unfortunately evolved from an exciting experience to a headache to be avoided when possible, and that customers may have had enough. Parking issues and costs at the airport, luggage fees, shrinking seat size and leg room, overbooked flights, and battles for overhead bin space make flying stressful.

While many of these inconveniences feel like unavoidable outcomes of cost-cutting that will be hard to reverse, acknowledging these challenges sets a foundation for mobilizing an internal team to find creative solutions for these known issues. Identifying customer experience challenges and prioritizing their resolution helps a team to structure their innovation efforts in alignment with company goals.


In the interim, here are five tips to help you manage business travel, with an emphasis on international travel given its extra unknowns and potential for stress.

Make Copies of Important Documents

Suppose you lose your passport? Or leave your company credit card at the wine bar in the airport? Would you have the information you need to replace it or make do without it? Photocopy your passport and record your credit card information along with any other unique identifiers related to your travel. Keep it on you, not in your checked luggage, for a backup should you misplace an important document.

Register Your International Trip

If you are a USA citizen traveling internationally, whether for business or for pleasure, register your trip with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), which is a free service provided by the US government. STEP provides the most recent safety and security information for your destination country and allows the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in case of an emergency.

Consult a Passport Health Services Company

If you are traveling internationally, you may be required to show proof of certain vaccinations before entering your destination country. This is especially true if you have visited a country designated as high risk for certain diseases such as Yellow Fever in the 30-day window preceding your arrival.


Navigating the requirements of immigration requirements can be confusing, and certain vaccinations are in short supply in standard medical practices. Plan ahead and make an appointment with a Passport Health Services company to ensure you receive the vaccinations you need for entry to your destination country during the appropriate vaccination window (again, you may need to be vaccinated upwards of 30 days in advance of your trip for the vaccine to be valid for entry).

Pack Smart

Don't let your luggage weigh you down. Pack one color palette full of versatile pieces that you can layer. Dark colors are preferable so that any small stains go unnoticed on repeat wear. Think of packing like a game of Tetris. Your job is to stack everything as close as possible. Fill your shoes with socks. Tuck jewelry inside rolls of clothing. Choose your backup pair of shoes wisely, leaning towards dark flats or loafers that you can fold or otherwise smoosh into your bag.

Own the Carryon Game

You know you can take one carry-on and one personal item. Smart travelers purchase luggage that helps them maximize the restrictions of overhead and under seat space to avoid checking luggage. Don't bring a small (or no) personal item and hope that your gigantic hard side carryon will find a spot overhead. Instead, find a smaller soft-side carryon (squishy is easier to shove into tight spaces) and pair it with a second "personal item" that lets you maximize the storage space beneath the seat in front of you. That under seat storage space is larger than you might think, and taking advantage of it will help you to avoid the delay of waiting for a gate-checked bag that was too big to store in the overhead bins.  

Traveling is full of enjoyable surprises and adventures, but the headaches and red-tape that often go along with it can turn it into a negative experience for many travelers. Consider these tips before your next trip to ensure a less stressful and more enjoyable trip regardless of your destination.

Published on: Apr 24, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.