If you enjoy traveling, each trip is something exciting to look forward to.
Traveling for your job has a totally different appeal. It’s work, but if you’re lucky, you’ll get to have some fun, too.
So how do you plan for a trip focused on professionalism with a side of entertainment?
These travel hacks will show you how to mix business with pleasure and get the most out of your next work trip.
1. Research Your Hotel’s Neighborhood
Get the most out of your stay by researching the hotel and the area around it. Check the surrounding area to see if there are any must-sees that you want to add to your itinerary. Finding fun things to do during your downtime can make a business trip feel like a vacation.
The hotel staff can give you tips on things to do, places to eat, and transportation options. You can always ask the front desk about the neighborhood as you’re checking in, but calling ahead will help you plan an itinerary before you arrive.
You might also poke around on social media to see if you can find any information about the city you’re going to. Most cities have a Reddit page where residents will be happy to answer any questions about the neighborhood you’re staying in.
Instagram is good for hotel research, too. A search for the city or neighborhood’s hashtag (#Denver, #FrenchQuarter) will give you all kinds of ideas.
2. Pack Light, But Smart
Most business trips are less than one week long.
For that amount of time, you don’t need to pack enough luggage to check a bag. A carry-on should be fine.
If you avoid checking luggage, you save the time and hassle of waiting for your bag to hit the conveyor belt.
Since you only get one limited carry-on and a personal item (at most airlines), make the most of the bag you bring.
Best Carry-On Luggage for Business Travel
There are lots of varieties to choose from, but the best carry-ons have features like:
- Telescoping handles
- Lightweight but durable body
- Four smooth-rolling, rotatable wheels for side and pull-behind options
- Exterior pockets for easy access to your laptop and/or charger
- Inside pockets to hold your TSA-approved toiletries
If the suitcase is labeled as a “carry-on,” its dimensions are most likely approved by the majority of airlines.
The average size for a standard domestic flight’s carry-on is 22” x 14” x 9”. It’s easy to find these on Amazon or at your local retailer.
Our Work Trip Packing List
Traveling for work doesn’t mean you have to bring your entire office. However, there are a few must-packs. Before you fly out, use these packing tips to make a list.
Check off each of the following as you put it in your carry-on bag:
- Any pertinent travel documents (boarding pass, passport, etc.)
- Credit cards (business and personal)
- Your phone and a charger
- A laptop or tablet, as well as an adapter if you’re going on an international trip
- A limited wardrobe, including travel outfits, a pair of sneakers, and your business clothes
- Everything you need for your meeting or convention
- Your basic hygiene toiletries
One of the benefits of staying at hotels that cater to business travelers, like Hilton, is that they have all of the items businesspeople tend to forget on hand.
If you forget an iPhone charger, travel pillows for your next business trip, toiletries, or another necessity, you can pick one up there.
3. Optimize Your Airport Experience
Flying is an amazingly simple way to get to your next destination. We all wish we had access to a private jet, but most of us don’t.
You can still have an enjoyable experience, though, especially if you prepare for your flight ahead of time.
Airport Hacks for a Better Flying Experience
You rarely see anyone over five excited to be at the airport. As seasoned flyers, we know there’s a lot of “hurry up and wait” in our future.
But these travel tips will improve your flying experience, no matter how often you travel.
Take Advantage of Loyalty Benefits
One way to get pre-boarding and in-flight perks is to sign up for a loyalty program. If your company gives you a budget and tells you to book your flight, use your own loyalty login information.
You’ll accumulate airline miles through work that can be used for personal travel. You’ll also get the loyalty benefits offered by the airline. These usually include perks like free baggage checking, priority boarding, and even — with some airlines — airport lounge access!
Get Screened With TSA Precheck
Another smart hack is to get pre-screened with TSA Precheck.
Check with your employer to see if they will approve paying for a TSA Precheck for frequent travelers. If they don’t cover it, it’s worth the upfront fee for the five years of benefits you get.
The Precheck process is simple:
You fill out the online application and make an appointment at one of the many enrollment centers near you.
At your visit, you’ll have a normal fingerprinting and background check screening. Once you’re approved, you get a Known Traveler Number to assign to any flights you book.
Then, you’ll move through the airport security line much faster, and you won’t have to remove your shoes, belts, laptops, or other items. According to the TSA, 97% of Precheck passengers in May 2021 waited less than five minutes in security lines.
In other words, if time is a big deal to you, this is an important hack.
Keep Following COVID Guidelines
A lot has changed in this post-pandemic world, and if you haven’t traveled in a while, flying might be confusing.
For one thing, you can expect to continue to follow mask requirements for the foreseeable future.
Airlines, trains, and buses operate under federal mandates. So, as long as the CDC continues to recommend travelers wear masks, you’ll have to wear them.
It’s not your flight attendant’s fault, and no one over the age of two (with certain exceptions) is immune to the mandate.
Stay prepared and save time by continuing to bring a mask with you to the airport.
4. Consider the Timing
Taking a “red-eye” flight (a flight that leaves at night and arrives the next morning) might not be your ideal way to spend a night, but it can free up a lot of time in your schedule.
Plus, if you can sleep on the plane, they’re a good way to avoid jet lag.
Early flights (as in before the sun comes up) are another option. You’ll arrive at the airport before most travelers are waking up, so you won’t have to deal with long lines and wait times.
Check-in is a breeze when you’re one of the only travelers there! And you’ll get to the airport faster since traffic won’t be as heavy.
You’ll also have more time at your destination, so you can relax, get some breakfast, and maybe even take a nap at the hotel before you have to do anything work-related.
When Is the Best Time to Fly for Business?
If the dates aren’t set in stone and you don’t have any plans at home, swap your arrival or departure to cover a weekend. Saturdays, Mondays, and Thursdays are usually the cheapest days to fly.
Of course, business is typically done during the week. So, if it’s possible to fly to your destination on a Saturday and leave during the week, you have the whole weekend to explore your new location.
Check the rates for the days that work best for you. If it’s a good deal, let your employer know that it would be more cost-effective to fly then.
You can get your business itinerary taken care of and spend a day or two sightseeing, too!
5. Take Advantage of Your Travel Time
One reason why flying is better than driving to your destination is that you have time to get things done.
You can use the time you spend dealing with layovers, waiting for your plane to board, and in the air to catch up on work or your personal to-do list.
Tips for Working on a Plane
Here are some tips to help you get work done on the plane while you’re traveling for business:
Charge Your Devices Before You Leave
Planning to work while you fly? Charge your devices so you don’t have to worry about charging them on the flight. You’ll still be able to work, even if your charger isn’t working.
Invest in a Travel Pillow
Airline seats aren’t exactly known for being comfy. A travel pillow can reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders as you work and rest during your time in the air.
Download the Airline App
Major airlines like Southwest have an app you have to download before you get on the flight, but then you can access their WiFi.
You can probably use your company’s credit card to pay for the faster settings and get some work done on the plane (just make sure it follows policy).
Get Yourself a Work Tablet
A bulky laptop is hard to work on in a small space, and a lot of the newer “lightweight” computers are still cumbersome. Since your carry-on is your luggage, you might not be able to bring a briefcase for your laptop, anyway.
Instead of lugging around a heavy laptop and trying to squeeze it into the narrow space in front of you on the plane, invest in a tablet.
(You may even be able to write your purchase off on your taxes as a work-related expense or get your company to buy it for you!)
Tablets are easier to use on the plane’s seat-back tray. Although you can’t connect to your own WiFi, a lot of airlines will approve a small Bluetooth keyboard to make typing easier.
Business travel doesn’t have to be a chore. When you know the tricks of the trade, it’s easy to turn a work trip into something relaxing and fun!
Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure? These five business travel tips will turn your next work trip into something you look forward to and enjoy.