Last year for work I flew over 60k miles on 4 different airlines and spent over 80 nights in various hotels throughout the U.S. and Canada. After years of this, I've established some habits and learned about little things that help make business travel tolerable.
I've condensed these down to a list of 10 and have interspersed my habits along with a few other tips to reduce the stress and inconvenience of travel:
- PACK: Bring along a roll of quarters. They come in handy for parking meters, vending machines, and even a valet's tip if you're out of singles.
- HABIT: When booking air, get the best seat on the plane. I always check LoveMySeat prior to making a seat selection, though I hate bulkhead which these sites tend to love.
- TIP: Maximize your frequent flier miles by not joining every frequent flier club. How? If you regularly fly US Air and only occasionally fly United, don't add the United miles to your Mileage Plus account; instead, because both carriers are members of the Star Alliance, have the miles credited to your US Airways Dividend Miles account. See also the oneworld alliance and SkyTeam for other airlines.
- PACK: If you travel with a laptop, keep a spare battery and power cord pre-packed in your laptop bag/backpack.
- TIP: If you're wanting a hotel room upgrade, check in as late as possible. In my experience, the later it is, the more likely the hotel will be to grant this request should you ask.
- HABIT: I print out reservation confirmations for every aspect of my trip and keep them in an 8.5"x11" envelope in my laptop backpack. As I accumulate expenses during the trip, I drop the receipts into this envelope to minimize the risk of losing these in the black hole that is my wallet.
- PACK: Buy & keep in your laptop bag/backpack a short 3-outlet power adapter since no hotel ever has enough electrical outlets.
- HABIT: Place travel-sized toiletries in a quart-sized zip-top bag to avoid checking bags if possible. Just last week a coworker had to wait 6 hours for US Air to deliver his checked bags after they weren't loaded onto his direct flight to SFO (an x-ray machine was out of service in PHL, which created a backlog in getting bags screened promptly).
- TIP: If you use a laptop when traveling then get a Sprint Mobile Broadband subscription, especially if you can expense Internet charges. It may even save you money because it eliminates the $9.95 daily hotel Internet charges. I just dumped my T-Mobile HotSpot Wi-Fi service because, despite the decent number of HotSpots, its coverage is limited. When you're sitting on the tarmac at DFW Airport because of a two-hour air traffic control delay in Atlanta, HotSpot will be of no use but Sprint Broadband will be.
- PACK: I've learned to keep a very small travel umbrella in my backpack. This gets used on at least 25% of my trips.