Wouldn't it be wonderful if just one website could book you cheap tickets, find you discounted rooms at five-star hotels, curate a list of things to do in your destination, and throw in a relaxing full-body massage? Unfortunately, we haven't quite gotten there yet. For the business traveler, a hassle-free experience is key to being productive upon reaching your destination. During a panel at The New York Times Travel Show, Times columnist Stephanie Rosenbloom and travel editor Dan Saltzstein offered these five hacks to improve your experience when work takes you on the road.
1. Get there cheap
There is a lot to consider about getting to your destination, and it is equally important to know what to expect once you're there. You don't always have flexible dates, but Google.com/flights and Hopper.com are great tools for helping you decide when to fly and when to buy. These tools search multiple airlines and use data-driven results to show you fares months in advance, as well as cheaper options around your desired date. And if you do buy a ticket and later realize the price has dropped significantly, Yapta can help you get some of that money back. If you're traveling internationally, exchange rates may impact how you budget your stay. Oanda.com provides nearly up-to-the-minute currency rates, so you'll have a better idea of how much money you'll need.
2. Avoid airport hassles
Skip long security and immigration lines with Global Entry, which allows pre-approved participants to use automated kiosks at select airports to expedite their entry into the United States. By applying for this program, you can also participate in TSA Pre-check--that means you save time by not having to take off your shoes and other items, or remove your laptop from your bag. All Global Entry participants qualify for TSA Pre-Check, or you can apply separately if you are a U.S. citizen. You use this expedited service on domestic and international flights for participating airlines. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website provides a breakdown of trusted traveler programs that might be right for you.
3. Save on your stay
There are great deals on accommodations at any price point; it's all about knowing where to look. Airbnb is always a great option, even for business travel. And while the site doesn't formally encourage it, you can often negotiate prices with your host. Hovelstay.com, an "anti-luxury" marketplace, offers travelers lodging in three categories: "Survival," "Good Enough," and "Clean & Comfortable." You can find anything from a hut in Guatemala to a private room in Istanbul for lower service fees than on Airbnb. And if you find yourself in need of a last-minute booking, try deal-finding mobile phone apps Hotel Tonight and Blink Booking.
4. See the sights
You never know when you'll have some spare time to go touring, so use the right travel and review sites to avoid scams and tourist traps. BoardingArea.com publishes timely blog posts on subjects that are of interest to frequent fliers and business travelers. Sometimes literally just Googling [Wherever-you-are] Free will provide some ideas of what to do in your destination without shelling out extra bucks on expensive tours. Even if you can't tour, you still have to eat, and sites like Peek.com and Stay.com provide food and entertainment guides curated by locals and verified users.
The stress of travel can seriously hamper your productivity. While you can't always avoid screaming children and flight delays, you can try to forget about your travel woes. The app Headspace, a "gym membership for the mind," provides guided meditation to boost your creativity and improve your focus. To sleep better on a flight, try White Noise Lite, an app with various ambient sound options, such as Amazon Jungle, Beach Waves Crashing, and Light Rain. And if you can't find the right atmosphere for work once you've reached your destination, Coffitivity is an app that recreates the sounds of a coffee shop to help give you the creativity lift you might need.