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Traveling for Work – 7 Smart Tips

If you’ve found yourself in a new position where you’re frequently traveling, it can be stressful at first. Taking conference calls on the road, forgetting an important document, and meeting strangers to discuss business isn’t always the most enjoyable experience. While you can’t control many of those factors, you can control how you travel and how easy it can be. 

Let’s assume, at worst, you have to fly commercial when you travel, and you’re gone anywhere from a night to an entire workweek. Any longer than that, and there’s a longer list of tips and strategies you’ll need to read. 

 

Get TSA Pre-check or Global Entry

This is by far the most important tip for a frequent flyer. Because, until you’re flying private, you’ll be dealing with the folks at TSA. Waiting behind crying children and trying to move around people who have never flown before gets old after awhile.

→ Sign up for TSA Pre-Check or the Global Entry Program

Holiday Travel Tips TSA PreCheck

But seriously… it’s $85, maybe an hour of your time, and it’s valid for 5 years. The ROI on time saved makes it worth it, let alone the stress you’ll avoid. The biggest hassle is scheduling an appointment to get your photo and fingerprints taken. 

The Global Entry Program is essentially the same thing as TSA Pre-Check but is for people who travel in and out of the country often. With Global Entry, you’ll still receive all the benefits of TSA Pre-Check, but with only TSA Pre-Check, you will not get the benefits of the Global Entry Program. They are two separate applications.

One last thing – When you receive your KTN or Known Traveler Number – save this and have it readily accessible! It’s easy to forget to have this added to your ticket when you purchase. If you forget, your ticket will not have the correct labeling for you to go through the Pre-Check line! If you don’t see it on your order after your purchase, call the airline’s customer service, and they can add it onto the ticket. 

 

Related: Traveling During the Holidays? Don’t Forget to Follow These Holiday Travel Tips.

 

Invest in Good Luggage

If you haven’t seen any of my videos or read anything else on my blog, I’m all about finding good luggage and reviewing it. Nothing could be worse than having all of your clothes spill onto a busy aisle at the airport or having to carry your bag around because a wheel broke. Spend a little more upfront and save yourself the hassle later.

If you’re packing a suit, make sure you pick up the right bag for it. A rolling garment bag protects your suit and other clothes better than a regular carry-on.

Lately, the Chester carry-on has been my go-to and beats out the more well-known Away carry-on. See my video below for a comparison. 

Otherwise, if you don’t like either the Chester or Away, below are a few more options. I tend to stick with carry-on only as bringing a checked bag tends to complicate your travel plans if it ends up getting lost. 

 

 

Sign up for Rewards Programs

You might as well take advantage of the rewards programs while you’re traveling. Corporations usually receive some type of discount if a previous arrangement is made, but loyalty points are something you can personally benefit from. Everything from frequent flyer miles to car rentals and hotel points are fair game. 

Car Rental Reward Programs

Hotel / Lodging Reward Programs

Airline Reward Programs

If you’re new to a company, you’ll want to find out if you will receive a company credit card to charge business expenses to, or if you’ll pay for them up front and then be reimbursed for them later. If you’ll be reimbursed, you’ll want to take advantage of a credit card and potentially any introductory offer. 

Not only will it keep your personal funds from being tied up while you’re waiting to get reimbursed, but you can earn points on business purchases. Again, those points can be redeemed for other things like plane tickets, hotel stays, other purchases, etc. all earned through company spending. 

If you know you’ll be spending more than $1,000+ in the next 3 months, here are some great introductory offers you can receive. Just follow the link, apply for the card, and then charge work expenses to them to be reimbursed later, and enjoy your bonus.

Credit Card Rewards

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

      • $0 Annual Fee, $150 cash-back bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card

      • $0 Annual Fee, $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

      • $0 Annual Fee, $150 cash-back bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

      • $0 Annual Fee, $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in the first three months of account opening. Plus 1.8% cashback on qualified digital wallet purchases during the first 12 months. 

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

      • $0 Annual Fee, 20,000 bonus miles ($200 in travel), after spending $1000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Discover it Miles Credit Card

      • $0 Annual Fee, will match all the miles you earn during your first year as a cardholder. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

      • $95 Annual Fee, 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards ($750 in travel) points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

      • $0 Annual Fee first year, $95 after that. 50,000 bonus miles ($xxx in travel) after spending $3,000 on purchases in first 3 months. 
      • Reimbursement of Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Fee, so basically free enrollment into either program. 

American Express Gold Credit Card

      • $250 Annual Fee, 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. 
      • It also includes $100 per year airline fee credit, essentially turning that annual fee into $150 if you fly at least once a year for personal reasons.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

      • $450 Annual Fee, 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. 
      • Certain airport lounge access, concierge services, and coverage for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry application. 
      • It also includes $300 in statement credit each year for travel charges. 

American Express Platinum Credit Card (What I have)

      • $550 Annual Fee. 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. The annual fee is waived for active-duty military or spouse of one.
      • It also includes $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 in Uber credits annually, $100 annual statement credit to Saks Fifth Avenue (clothing store), and enrollment fee to Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check covered every 4 years. 
      • It also includes access to American Express Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, and Delta Sky Club Lounges. 
      • It also includes Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status. 

 

Pack an Extra Battery Pack and Fast-Charge Charger

It goes without saying to charge your electronics before leaving the house, but what happens when your phone or laptop dies? Sure, you can sit next to the outlet while your device charges, which, if that’s your plan, I suggest packing a power strip just in case both outlets are occupied. Most people will be cool with sharing. 

anker power core portable power bankOr you can pack an extra battery pack, like the Anker PowerCore Portable Charger. You’ll be able to fully charge your phone about 3 or 4 times before it runs out of juice. Here is a link to a selection of different sizes.

I also recommend picking up Anker’s Quick Charge wall charger. It looks similar to the cube you might get with your iPhone or Android, but it’s far from it. This charging cube has a higher electrical output that is safe for your devices, so you can charge the battery 3 to 4 times faster than your OEM charger. anker quickcharge best travel wall charger

Lastly, they do make ones specifically for the Macbook users out there. Don’t worry, all of these are safe to bring on airlines. I’ve never had an issue carrying one on.

 

Keep a Paper Copy of Important Information

printed and digital boarding passSometimes phones can grow a pair of legs and end up walking away when left unattended for even a second. Other times you may have forgotten to buy a power bank to pack in your carry-on. Whatever the reason, if you don’t have or can’t access your digital boarding pass by the time you get to the gate, you’re in for some trouble and possibly missing your flight. 

Save yourself the hassle and print your boarding pass out before leaving the house or checking in at one of the kiosks to print it. 

 

Book Non-Stop Flights, Pick Smart Routes

You can’t control the weather, but you can choose what weather you might end up flying through. If possible, travel through northern airports in the summer and southern airports in the winter. You’ll likely see milder weather during those seasons, at least in the United States. 

I go more in-depth on that tip and others in the video below. Additionally, I cover what you should do if your flight is delayed or canceled. Which is a matter of when, not if, it’ll happen. 

 

 

Eat Clean

I get it, it’s tough to eat healthy on the road when you’re away from home and don’t have access to a grocery store. But, if there’s one thing I always try to do, even if I’ve missed a flight and have to sleep in the airport (which I have and mention in the video above). That one thing is eating clean.

Travel is stressful enough as it is, so don’t put more stress on it by filling it with junk. Besides, do you really want to have to go #2 in a cramped airplane lavatory? The answer is no, no you don’t. Stick with salads, fresh fruits, water, fresh sandwiches, and avoid fried foods, grease, alcohol, and caffeine. Pack snacks if need be.

My plate – pulled pork, roasted brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes and a few other items at the American Express Centurion Lounge.

I highly recommend getting the American Express Platinum card I mentioned earlier if you can afford it. The Centurion lounges have free food and drinks that blow away a lot of restaurants. I was honestly surprised by the freshness of their food and the number of healthy options available. Those lounges have an actual chef preparing the food, and it’s buffet style. Who doesn’t love a free gourmet buffet?

American Express Centurion Lounge Toppings

The toppings bar at the Centurion Lounge

Summary

To summarize, it’s all about planning. Buy the right bag the first time, and be sure to book your trip in the most efficient way possible. 

Get everything you need for your trip set up the night before, print off confirmations, pack, charge electronics, and don’t forget to give yourself enough time to get through security if you don’t have TSA Pre-Check. 

Lounges can offer you some extra amenities that make travel less stressful and easier to manage. Certain credit cards can put some additional cash in your pocket, especially if you can charge them for work and be reimbursed later.