Notes on my business travel routine
In addition to my personal travel and fun blog-related trips: I’ve been doing a lot of business travel over the past few months: as part of my job in sales, I visit companies and agencies based in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.
Although the early mornings, packed schedules and general airport chaos have taken a toll on me (especially my skin—so dehydrated!), I’ve started to get a biz travel routine down pat. Here are a few of the things that have made the process more efficient and less stressful for me–especially when it’s on short notice.
Choose a rewards program, and stick to it
If you’re flying a lot for work, sign up for a mileage program immediately with your preferred airline. It can be an opportune time to sign up for the airline’s credit card, too! Take advantage of those miles you’re logging for work, and use them to gain status and points that you can put toward personal travel. If your company has a complicated expense process, it can also be helpful to put all of your work travel costs onto that one airline credit card—easier to track! You’ll also often earn double or triple points on work flights or other travel costs (Uber, taxis, rental cars) that you put on the card.
Similarly: choose a hotel rewards program! I signed up for the Hilton rewards program on an uneducated whim, and I honestly don’t recommend it: it’s tough to get enough points for it to mean anything, and I’m not a huge fan of the properties. For example: my next big perk is a free bottle of water when I check in! Based on quite a few recommendations, I’m likely switching over to the SPG rewards program in 2018.
Personally: I fly Southwest Airlines for West Coast business meetings (aka 95% of my business travel), and have recently opened a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. For a limited time, California residents can get a Companion Pass after the first purchase on the card: I can’t wait until David can easily tag along on my work trips next year (I think we’ll shift the scheduling a bit so that we can turn more of them into long weekends!). I also have the JetBlue Barclaycard (mostly as a holdover from when I mostly flew JetBlue on the East Coast) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which is especially fantastic when it comes to travel rewards.
Keep your bag packed with the right snacks
Whenever I’m traveling for work, I’m always trying to pack my days with as many in-person meetings as possible. Although sometimes that includes coffee dates or chats over lunch, I often end up presenting over the lunch hour or just have meetings straight through the day. So! I always keep a few healthy snacks in my bag, like whole almonds or apple slices. I especially like RXBAR: they’re nutritious, filling and I can easily read all of the ingredients (this is my favorite flavor).
I also always keep packets of Emergen-C and Natural Calm in my bag. If I’m feeling low on energy or on the cusp of being under the weather, I’ll pop some Emergen-C into my water at the hotel breakfast buffet or on the plane. Natural Calm helps ease me to sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room, and it’s also key to keep my stress under control during difficult travel days.
I always believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s especially key when I’m traveling. I usually try to find a spot with acai bowls or freshly-squeezed juice so that I can get a dose of fruits, vegetables and natural vitamins before a busy day. And I keep myself to my one coffee a day limit, even on long days!
Figure out ways to stay connected
I have a wireless internet USB stick that is an absolute lifesaver when I’m on the road: I can catch up emails and Slack messages when I’m in a car, and I don’t have to constantly ask for wifi passwords at coffeeshops. I also seek out reliable spots to sit and work in between meetings when I’m on the road, like libraries or fancy hotel lobbies (aka places that are free, quiet and often have plugs). I especially love Seattle Public Library, the lobby at the Ace Hotel in Portland or the atrium at Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
Decide on a uniform…
Having a go-to meeting outfit makes packing for work travel a breeze. Depending on the weather, I go between a simple, hard-to-wrinkle black dress (my current fave is from Everlane, and has pockets!) or a simple top, skinny jeans and flats. And I always have a cardigan on hand, especially if I’m flying. Basically: I have stopped trying to reinvent the wheel, and have come to the conclusion that I’m rarely meeting with the same people twice. Thus: I can wear the same thing just about all of the time and no one notices (and I don’t have to spend any mental energy worrying about it).
…and make sure comfortable shoes are part of it
The most important part of the uniform: shoes that I can spend all day in, and that still look professional. I rotate between these nude flats, black open-toed clogs and chunky heeled blue suede boots.
Pare down your luggage
The biggest thing that I’m committed to when I’m traveling on short work trips: taking as little luggage as possible! I’ve mastered the art of the one-night business trip in one tote. In addition to my requisite laptop, chargers, notebook and pen: I also pack my pared-down makeup bag, a toothbrush, a change of underwear, either an extra shirt or dress (something that doesn’t wrinkle easily!) and a makeup wipe. Just the essentials! I hate having to drag an extra bag to meetings with me, and I often go straight to meetings from the airport and vice versa. That photo above is all that I took with me on a Tuesday morning to Wednesday night business trip last week (and was taken at 5am, ha!): the total lack of luggage always throws my airport Uber drivers off!
What are your best tips and tricks for business travel?