The technological advancements of the last few decades have created opportunities for businesses to expand their reach across the nation and around the world. Many coworkers are no longer always housed within the same four walls, and business partners, clients, and stakeholders aren’t just in a different ZIP code—they’re sometimes in a completely different time zone.
As our working world expands, so do the travel times required for in-person meetings. In fact, U.S. travelers took 463.6 million business trips in 2018.
Whether you’re a jet-setting road warrior who travels 250 days a year or you make the conference circuit and then head home, travel woes are common among people whose job takes them to new places. Overcoming these common work-travel issues is essential to your ability to thrive in today’s working environment. Therefore, we’ve gathered expert advice to share with you today. Use these tips to zoom past security checkpoints and discover more “me-time” during your next work trip.
Getting Where You’re Going
Often one of the main sources of frustration while traveling for work is navigating the airport. Add a dash of anxious fellow passengers and a pinch of burned-out airport staff, and you have a perfect recipe for travel hurdles. Use these tips, and you’ll be through security and relaxing at the airport bar in no time.
While we understand the importance of and are thankful for the security measures in the airport, getting through the security line is one of the most frustrating experiences during any trip.
Frequent travelers know that TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are worth the time and money spent to register for them. For those of you who don’t have TSA PreCheck and still have to remove liquids from your carry-on luggage, frequent travelers have a suggestion. Keep a set of travel-sized toiletries in your suitcase and have it stored in the same place each time you travel. This way, you know where to snag it from while in the security line and you’ll save time packing. If you’re planning to check a bag, it will save time to put only what you need during the flight in your carry-on to take through security.
When Your Flight Is Overbooked
One of the most often mentioned bits of advice from work travel experts is to be loyal to the brands and businesses you use while traveling. This tip helps in various situations, but when your plane is overbooked or delayed, being a member of your airline’s loyalty program can help you get to your destination faster.
Since airlines regularly sell more seats than they have on a flight, overbooking happens and sometimes people will get bumped from flights. If you are a loyalty member, the airline is more likely to keep you on your scheduled flight and bump passengers who aren’t members.
However, the airline will often ask for volunteers to give up their seats and offer travel vouchers for future trips. If you’ve booked your flight with plenty of padding to get to your destination, you could take the option of an alternate flight and score some credit for a future trip. Experts suggest waiting until the voucher amount is $400 or more before you volunteer for a different flight.
Dealing with Delays
Delayed flights happen occasionally, and some major airports—like Atlanta, Chicago, and Houston—are more prone to flight delays than others. When you’re planning your trip, book your travel with accommodations for delays. Plans for extra layover time before connecting flights and options for replacement flights make delays much less stressful. Also, remember that while that early-morning flight might sound like a drag, earlier flights are less likely to have a delay.
When your flight does get delayed, you should check with the airline about any connecting flights immediately. If it is a short delay, you may still make your next flight without problems. If you booked your connection on the same ticket as your delayed flight, the airline will likely book you on the next available flight to your destination. If you booked two separate flights, you’ll have to rebook yourself. The best thing you can do is get to a service counter as quickly as you can and discuss your options. Pro tip: if the customer service lines are miles long, call the airline itself while you wait in line. You might talk to someone faster that way.
If you have a rental vehicle booked at your final destination, call and inform them of your flight’s delay and reschedule pickup if necessary. Most rental car companies are understanding but communicate with them as soon as you know you’ll be late so you don’t lose your reservation or incur additional fees.
Replacing Lost Documentation
There’s no doubt that losing your identification can create a panic, no matter when or where it happens. If you lose your state-issued ID or passport while on a work trip, how are you supposed to board the plane to get home? The first thing you should do is file a police report in order to create a paper trail.
If you are flying domestically, start by calling the airport you’ll be flying through and ask what policies they have in place. Then, get started prepping to talk with security at the airport. Get to the airport early, armed with any official and non-official identification you have with you. If you purchased round-trip plane tickets with a credit card, the airline can trace your ticket to see that you got on your original flight with your ID.
If you’re abroad and lose your passport, contact the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. You can do this online or by phone and it is always a good idea to have the contact information for the local office stashed separately from your passport.
You’ll be expected to supply contact information for friends or family members at home who can verify your identity. It’s best to leave a copy of your passport and birth certificate at home with a contact you trust. Once your identity is verified, you’ll either be issued a conditional passport to get you home quickly or be sent a replacement passport for an $85 fee.
Whether you’re naturally organized or not, your work life while on the road is enhanced by keeping track of the details. Here are a few ideas for keeping all your ducks in a row while you’re on the go.
Keeping It All Charged
Your gadgets are your lifeline to the rest of the world while traveling for work. You keep up-to-date with your team using Slack, you have digital calendars and project management software on your tablet or laptop, and your cellphone has your digital boarding pass and rental car reservations. Obviously, you don’t want your batteries to die.
The most common way to keep your gadgets charged is to simply have a “travel” charger for each of your devices that you keep in your carry-on at all times. You can keep them all organized in a handy carrying case or individual plastic zip-top bags.
However, there’s not always an open outlet when you need to charge up. Savvy travelers suggest carrying spare batteries and rechargeable external batteries to keep your tools ready to do their job at a moment’s notice.
Tracking Your Expenses
Money-related issues regularly arise when you’re working away from “home base.” Sticking to your allowed budget and holding onto your receipts are two common causes of frustration. Luckily, there are apps for that. Even if your company doesn’t have a preferred digital method for tracking expenses, you can download one directly to your phone or tablet.
With an app like Expensify, you can scan and input receipts, create expense reports, and set up automatic rules for how to approve some expenses. Other apps, like Shoeboxed, provide additional services. With this app, you can mail in your “shoebox” full of receipts and they will digitize them and create a detailed expense report for you.
You already know that if you pare down what you pack, traveling becomes easier. But work trips often require a different sort of packing—hard-copy reports, notebooks, and promo items. Lugging this type of baggage through an airport is no one’s idea of relaxing. So, experts suggest you skip it altogether.
Ship anything you can ahead of time. If you’re in charge of handing out freebies at a convention, have it shipped to your hotel to be delivered the day you arrive. If you’re finishing up quarterly reports to share at the meeting, ship the binders or folders you’ll use and take the report on a flash drive (with a backup in the cloud, of course) to a local shop and simply print them after you arrive.
Do your research well in advance of your trip and you’ll save yourself a ton of hassle. Most hotels and event spaces are more than willing to work with you to keep your work travel struggles at a minimum.
Remembering Your Self-Care Routine While Traveling for Work
Everyone should make time for themselves, even when hitting the highways (or the flyways) for work. Don’t be ashamed of taking a little time for yourself, just remember to be transparent with your team about it when you do. Below are self-care topics that regularly arise in discussions with seasoned work-travelers.
Feeling Burned Out
When you’re headed to a new city on a work trip, it’s tempting to schedule your arrival to coincide with your meeting’s start time and leave as soon as it finishes. However, when you put a few work trips back-to-back, you’ll find yourself worn out faster than your favorite sneakers. You need vacation time to be a healthy and happy version of yourself.
Experts suggest turning your business travel into “bleisure travel” by adding some time for leisure at the beginning or end of your business trip. Visit a local hot spot, invite a nearby friend to join you, or simply explore some new terrain on your own.
Forbes reports that adding some fun to work travel goes a long way for employee satisfaction. In fact, they reported that 81% of millennial workers and 46% of the boomer generation would add extra time to a business trip this year.
Sickness: From Sniffles to Stiffness
It’s too easy to gain weight from overeating or eating the wrong foods while traveling for work. And while flying, you’re sharing germs with all the other passengers and sitting still so long your body probably aches.
Your health and wellness are the most important factor in being able to do your job and crush it while you’re traveling. Here are some of our favorite work travel wellness tips:
- Use the default Health app (on iPhones) or Google Fit app (on Android phones) to easily track steps and activity. For tracking your calories and meals, MyFitnessPal and MyPlate are a few of our favorites.
- Choose a hotel with a fitness center to work out some of your nervous energy and stress. Our search filters make it easy to find hotels with gyms, indoor pools, sports courts, and more.
- Carry a tennis ball to roll under your feet, thighs, and back to alleviate soreness from riding in planes, trains, and cars or from sitting in meetings.
- Boost your immune system with a diet rich in superfoods or your favorite vitamin supplement.
- Get immunized for common problems and issues local to your destination to avoid sickness.
- Don’t neglect your sleeping schedule, and plan for at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you can, stay in a hotel that focuses on promoting healthy sleep and wellness.
- Do what you can to relax when you get the chance—even if it’s just reading by the pool.
Pay attention to what your body tells you along the way. Know when to pay for the Wi-Fi to get work done on the way and when to rest and rejuvenate.
Finding a Home Away from Home
Your hotel room is where you can relax and be yourself while on the road, so the importance of finding just the right one shouldn’t be understated. Experienced travelers know that the following tips are crucial to getting the rest they need to get the job done right.
Fear of Missing Out (on the Right Room)
Searching for a hotel room with an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia and Booking.com can be fraught with inconveniences of all kinds. From confusing fine print to biased search results, it’s hard to know whether the hotel room you’ve chosen is worth the listed price.
People in the know will tell you that many OTAs also push you into booking a room before you’re ready using messages filled with fear and urgency, like “last room left” and “20 people are looking at this hotel right now.”
However, savvy travelers know that booking directly with the hotel is the stress-free way to book your room. Not only will you be able to work directly with the hotel to discuss any travel delays you may experience, but all your customer service needs will be much simpler to handle because you aren’t dealing with a third-party middleman.
Missing the Perks
There is one work travel tip you’re bound to hear every time you read a travel blog or listen to an experienced traveler: Become a member of hotel loyalty programs to accumulate all the points you can.
We couldn’t agree more, so we wrote a post called “Benefits of Being a Hotel Loyalty Member” to break it down for you. Not only will you get the best room price available, but most hotels will also let their members cancel their stay for free if plans change. There are also additional perks for loyalty members like free WiFi, breakfast, and late checkout.
While it doesn’t hurt to be a member of multiple loyalty programs, many people suggest staying at hotels within the same loyalty program as often as possible so your loyalty points accumulate more quickly. When you search with Roomkey, you can filter your search results by loyalty program in order to see what hotels are available near your destination to score you the most loyalty points.
We know you don’t always get to choose, but if you’re looking for the right loyalty program to fit your needs, there is one for every type of traveler.
Why You Should Book with Roomkey
We know there are already enough hassles when you’re traveling for work, so when you book with Roomkey, the process is simple and straightforward. You can use our search tool to search by destination, use filters to narrow by price, loyalty program, brand, or amenities, and use our scrolling map to see where the hotel is relative to points of interest.
Once you find the perfect hotel on Roomkey.com, we take you to the hotel’s website to book your room directly with the hotel. From there, you can join their loyalty program if you haven’t already and check “find hotel a room” off your to-do list.
At Roomkey, there are no hassles, no distracting marketing messages, and no gimmicks. We get you straight to the truth, so you can get straight to your travel. Start searching for your next work-trip hotel today.
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