Top 9 Tips for Traveling
At Armstrong, we find ways to work smarter, not harder. Our employees have traveled far and wide this year, from Iceland to Australia and crisscrossing the country for industry events. Frequent traveling provides the opportunity to learn to travel better.
If you're looking to travel this holiday season, whether for business or for personal reasons, it's important to travel smart and be prepared. High-pressure events and geopolitical tensions have forced airports worldwide to ramp up security, not to mention the labor shortages and other issues that have caused airlines to cancel and delay flights. Here are some tips for traveling that'll save you time and money while preventing headaches.
Book Directly with Familiar Providers
Avoid making arrangements through third-party travel sites like Expedia or Travelocity. While they streamline the reservation process, it's a risky endeavor if you need to change your plans later. Even if you can modify your arrangements, you'll likely pay a premium or risk missing the opportunity to get a refund if you need to shorten your reservation.
It's more difficult to upgrade when you book with third parties, and you won't be able to participate in the loyalty programs many companies offer. Frequent flyer perks include things like free or reduced plane tickets, seat upgrades, and access to airport lounges. Many hotel chains and rental car services also offer similar loyalty programs.
Another way to get free perks is to sign up for a credit card with travel rewards, like the Capital One Venture card or Discover it Miles card. You have to buy things every day anyway; why not be rewarded? Even if your employer reimburses your expenses, a business travel card offers freebies and conveniences you wouldn't get otherwise.
Use Programs That Speed Up Travel
Consider registering for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. No one enjoys going through security checks at airports, busy business people least of all. These designations allow travelers special, shorter security lines and typically do not require shoes, laptops, or liquids to be removed. While TSA PreCheck shortens the screening process, Global Entry additionally allows you to get through U.S. Customs faster when you re-enter the United States.
Both programs require paperwork and an in-person background check in addition to a small fee for a five-year membership. (Remember those credit card reward programs? Many times, this is a free perk!) For frequent travelers, the time and money are well worth it.
Nothing is more frustrating that not being able to find important information when you need it or realizing you've forgotten to pack dress shoes. Putting together a travel checklist can help prevent you from forgetting essential items. Physical copies of your travel reservations can be a lifesaver if your phone runs out of juice or you can't get service. Once you've printed off your reservation details, store them in a single folder or binder along with two copies of your checklist (one for when you depart and another for when you return). Consider printing a copy of your itinerary and any important meeting details.
You should also store receipts for any expenses reimbursable by your employer in your travel folder/binder. Before storing them, take pictures of them on your phone. That way, if you do misplace one, you'll have proof of the expense. You can also take photos of your room number or parking spot number/lot location to help you remember your bearings after a long day of meetings and meals.
Use Your Phone to Your Advantage
Apps like Apple Wallet allow you to keep the details of your flights and other travel arrangements in one place for easy access. FLIO can help you find your way around airports you've never been to, while AroundMe can help you find restaurants, ATMs, and other amenities near you. TripIt can help you organize your business travel itinerary.
Another travel hack is to store customer service numbers in your phone. Unfortunately, many things that can go awry during your travel are out of your control, but you can avoid some of the frustration by having the numbers you need to call handy. One of the perks offered by many loyalty programs is special customer service numbers for members. Be sure to know what number to contact, as these dedicated hotlines often have much shorter hold times.
You may also be able to resolve customer service issues through social media channels. Tweeting at an airline because you missed a flight may help you avoid waiting in a long line at a kiosk with other angry passengers.
Invest in a Portable Charger and Wi-Fi Hotspot
Remember to pack chargers (and adaptors if you’re traveling internationally!) for any electronic devices you'll be using during the trip. A portable power bank is helpful, too; even if you charge your things before leaving your house or hotel, you'll be using your devices a lot to navigate, make calls, and send emails. Another handy item to keep on hand is a Wi-Fi hotspot. You'll likely have Wi-Fi access in most places you visit, but it's always a good idea to have a backup for those moments when there's no connection.
When it comes to packing, less is more. If you can, store all your things in a carry-on and skip the checked bags! Doing so saves time and money while preventing every traveler's worst nightmare: lost luggage. Just make sure your bag aligns with TSA guidelines.
If you do need checked bags, invest in good luggage and accessories. You want a durable suitcase that's easy to pack and maneuver. Additionally, a small digital scale that fits in a side pocket can help prevent costly charges for an overweight bag. Adding stickers, ribbons, and patches to your luggage can help you find your suitcase at the baggage claim quicker and prevent it from being stolen (too noticeable). Packing cubes can help organize and compartmentalize your items.
When packing, keep your electronic devices (including anything with lithium batteries) close to the top so you can easily access them when going through security. It also helps to tuck any essential items in a side pocket so you can find them quickly.
Prepare a Travel Kit
Another way to prevent forgetting essential items is by preparing a travel kit. Uses for travel kits are as diverse as travel destinations. You can store emergency items in your travel kit, things like Advil, tissues, an eye mask, and ear plugs. Or you can stash all the essentials – boarding pass, IDs, necessary paperwork, your phone, itinerary, wallet, etc. If you don't travel frequently enough to need TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you could pack a travel kit that stows liquids, electronics, chargers, and anything else that needs to be removed in security quickly.
If you're constantly on the road, travel experts recommend keeping a separate stash of business travel must-haves you take from trip to trip. You'll want to store all the items you use most frequently when traveling, like an eye mask, toiletries, a phone or laptop charger, etc. Keeping this toiletry bag packed helps save time and prevents the likelihood of forgetting something. Make sure you replenish what you use after each trip so you can quickly grab your travel kit and go the next time.
Dress to Impress (and Save Time!)
Security will ask you to remove your belt, shoes, and anything metal. Save time by wearing slip-on shoes, avoiding metal accessories, and keeping your belt in your carry-on until you reach your destination. While you want to be comfortable during your travels, it's worth dressing at least business casual if you're on the road for professional reasons. You never know when you may run into a potential client or business partner.
When packing clothes for the trip, bring the proper attire: pack business and casual clothing for spur-of-the-moment meals or activities with clients, including comfortable walking shoes. You may also want to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on for emergencies and a sweater for layering in case it's cold on the airplane.
Come Prepared for International Travel
Research your destination ahead of time to give you a better sense of what to expect during your stay. Reading travel blogs, checking online reviews for popular places to visit, and browsing local visitors' guides can help you find must-see attractions, restaurants, and other top spots that'll make your trip more enjoyable.
If you're traveling somewhere very different from your home country, knowing some of your destination country's language and business etiquette will help you put your best foot forward. You don't need to be fluent in all the phrases and customs, but you'll feel more comfortable if you can extend greetings and ask simple questions. You’ll also want to bring some foreign currency for service tips and emergencies.
One of the most challenging parts of international travel is adjusting to time zone differences. While it's tempting to sleep as soon as you arrive, particularly after an exhausting trip, try to avoid doing so and let your body adjust to the new time zone. (In fact, experts say you should try to exercise within a couple of hours after arriving at your destination to beat the jetlag.) The same goes for mealtimes. The sooner you adapt to the time difference, the more comfortable and confident you'll feel.
Set Yourself Up for Success
While traveling can be tiring and tedious, following these tips can help you maximize efficiency, minimize your chance of running into problems or delays, and enhance your chances of having a successful trip.
Want to know what else can help you enhance efficiency and save time? Partnering with Armstrong! We offer premium back-office support that'll help you spend less time on the business of running a business. Reach out to us today and see what our agent program can do for you.
About Taylor Borum
Taylor joined Armstrong in 2021, serving as the team's Marketing Coordinator. A native of North Carolina, she moved to Charlotte in 2018 after graduating from Appalachian State University with her bachelor’s in Communication Studies. She's a passionate writer, having curated a diverse range of blog posts, articles, press releases, feature stories, webpage copy, social media posts, and more.