Flying Time

Business Traveler Should Know

If you’re an occasional flier, you might think business travel is all about cocktails in the airline lounge, first-class upgrades, luxurious hotel suites, and lavish dinners paid for with limitless expense accounts. The reality of business travel, however, is that it is tedious, stressful, and time-consuming — all of which can make meeting deadlines and doing deals that much more difficult.

Here are five tips every business traveler can use to make their work trips better.

Get Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck).
The single best way to improve your airport experience is to join one of the government’s known traveler programs. Participating in TSA PreCheck gets you access to expedited security screening lines that cut wait times down to five minutes or under for over 90% of travelers who join. Global Entry will speed you through customs and immigration checkpoints when reentering the U.S. from abroad.

Most folks who join Global Entry also get TSA PreCheck automatically, so you’re better off just applying for it instead. Over a dozen credit cards will reimburse you for the cost of applying for either program ($85 for PreCheck, $100 for Global Entry), including The Platinum Card from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Capital One Venture Rewards Card.

You might also consider joining CLEAR, which is a bio-metric identification service that lets you skip to the head of the security line. It costs $179 per year, but certain airline elites get discounts on membership.

Pack right, pack light.
Nothing will slow you down more than checking a bag. You have to arrive at the airport before the cutoff window for your flight, and can end up waiting at the baggage carousel for an hour after you land, just hoping your luggage actually shows up. Save yourself time by going carry-on only.

There are plenty of great bags that help you organize your belongings, wrinkle-resistant fabrics that still look fresh even after days of being crumpled up in your bag, plus compact yet comfortable shoes that are functional enough to sprint through an airport but stylish enough to wear out to a business dinner.

Loyalty matters.
Focusing your travel with one particular airline and hotel group can help you earn elite status and benefits like priority check-in, seat selection, and boarding when you fly, or room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, and late checkout during stays.

Think about which airlines fly where you travel most and which hotels have properties in the destinations you visit often, and then concentrate your activity with them. That way, you can also put all the miles and points you rack up on flights and stays for work toward redeeming rewards for a personal vacation somewhere fabulous.

Carry the right credit card.
Whether you want to earn airline miles, hotel points, or cash back, there are a lot of reasons to get a business credit card for your work travel. Using one helps keep your professional and personal expenses separate. Some, like Chase’s Ink Business Preferred, earn bonus points specifically on travel expenses and work purchases like office supplies and telecommunications. It also extends primary insurance on car rentals.

Still others, like The Business Platinum Card from American Express, confer premium perks like access to over 1,200 airport lounges around the world plus significant discounts on business- and first-class airfares.

Keep up healthy habits.
Traveling frequently makes it hard to stay healthy on the road. You’re constantly surrounded by fellow travelers packing airports and planes, crammed into tiny seats for hours at a time, dealing with jet lag and sleep deprivation, and struggling to find healthy meal options, let alone a decent hotel gym. But there are solutions for every step.

Don’t be afraid to pull a Naomi Campbell and wipe down every surface of your seat with disinfectant. Pick up a healthy meal before you board the plane rather than relying on airline catering. And consider joining a program like Class Pass, which will get you into gyms and fitness classes wherever you happen to be traveling.

Traveling for work sounds enviable, but it’s often more about conference rooms and airports (and the overpriced food that goes along with them), than anything resembling a vacation.

But sometimes, traveling for work has to be done. And just because it’s a necessity doesn’t mean we can’t find some pleasure in it. That’s exactly why people who travel for work are embracing the concept of “bleisure” — or business combined with enough leisure to make it feel a bit indulgent.

For Shanna Goodman, who owns her own Midwest-based brand strategy company Ampersand Business Solutions, working in a little fun on business trips has become a regular practice.

“What makes traveling fun is when you’re actually doing it for leisure and not work. The idea for the small business owner is you can build in that time at the front end of a client trip or the back end,” Goodman told Travel + Leisure. “Really, the bleisure piece is kind of the only perk of having to travel a lot for work.”

On a trip to New York, Goodman said she booked herself on a sailing tour around the city after she finished her work conference. Later, she made time to visit her favorite bookshop, Strand Book Store.

“I kind of made a vow to myself that I would do one fun thing every time I traveled somewhere,” she said. “Because it isn’t fun and it is just a grind if you don’t make it fun.”

Americans are notoriously bad at taking a break from work, with 55 percent of workers admitting that they didn’t use all of their allotted paid time off last year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. And when we do take a break, this study found that the No. 1 reason couples fight on vacation is because of work.

For many of us, taking a week-long vacation to explore the islands that dot the pristine blue water along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is just not feasible (though we can dream). Instead, carve out a little time to explore your next work trip destination and make the most of the travel you already have to do.

You could scope out the hottest new restaurant in Chicago or hit up an old favorite (personally, I love going to Lou Malnati’s for deep-dish pizza). Check out a new museum the next time you’re in Washington D.C. for meetings, or swing by a brewery in Denver after a conference.

Sometimes, all it takes is a good book and a beautiful view. And luckily, hotels like Hyatt House offer enough amenities to make it feel like you’re on vacation even if you don’t leave the hotel.

You can take in Windy City views during a swim in the rooftop pool at the Hyatt House in Chicago’s West-Loop neighborhood. (It’s indoors because Chicago winters can be brutal.) If you find yourself in Japan on business, you can find ski slopes a mere five minutes from the Hyatt House Niseko.

Everyone has a different idea of what would liven up a business trip. And whatever it is, make a conscious choice to actually do it. Trust us, you deserve the break.

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