Traveling often for business can be an appealing aspect of any career requiring it. You can accomplish networking at a more rapid pace, work while you’re in transit, and explore exciting new areas of the world.
After the routine sets in, however, many new to frequent business travel experience issues managing various crucial aspects of their personal and professional lives. When you’re away so often, you miss so much. Smart, frequent business travel means making the most of your time in transit—and at home. Here are some business travel hacks to help you manage your life and get the most out of your time and tools.
Plan Months Ahead
Travel interrupts your life, which is full of activities like birthday and anniversary celebrations, weddings, holidays, family vacations, medical appointments, and more. As you start to book plenty of business travel, you’ll notice more and more opportunities for these things disappear.
Draw a hard line and set that boundary, whether you’re setting it with yourself as a self-employed entrepreneur, or you’re notifying an employer. What could you handle missing and what’s off the table. Getting too far behind with health, family events, and social occasions can make you wonder why you’re working so hard anyway.
Track Expenses with Apps
Saving receipts and manually entering them is the way of the past. Now, you can use an app to photograph and upload business receipts directly. If your organization hasn’t adopted such a system, encourage them to—it’ll also help their bookkeeper. Once you upload your items, you won’t have to worry about retaining folders of awkward paper receipts.
At the very least, consider using the Google Drive app to upload and categorize receipts by folders. Labeling receipts and recording them each day leads to higher accuracy and, in some cases, faster reimbursement.
Consider Concierge Medicine
There’s nothing worse than being sick and away from home. From a winter flu to a serious, ongoing chronic health condition, medical concerns are most confusing when you’re not able to visit your doctor immediately. That’s where remote concierge medicine comes in. With options like SteadyMD, you can chat with your doctor via an app whenever you want. You can also access your doctor via scheduled video appointments.
Concierge doctor services can provide essential prescriptions to you even when you’re traveling. Whether you’re experiencing the winter’s worst cold or a chronic illness flare-up, knowing your doctor is a message away can bring peace of mind. You’ll save time—while you’ll still have to see specialists in person and utilize urgent care facilities, appointments with your primary care physician will happen online, no commute, or time off from work required.
Additionally, good mental health is vital to helping you stay at the top of your game. Many mental health counselors and therapists do online sessions with clients, which can be especially convenient when you have a challenging travel schedule.
Consolidate Planning and Management Tools
How many useful electronic systems do you use to keep your life together? For your job alone, you’re likely on Slack, Skype, at least one email platform, social media, and more. In your personal life, you also use these tools to share and coordinate with your family. Consider ways to consolidate these tools.
Shift, for example, is a tool that allows you to switch between multiple Gmail accounts. Sprout Social lets you manage multiple social media accounts for various brands or organizations. Whenever you can consolidate these tools, do it—especially when you consider how many workflows you handle on your mobile device while you travel.
Check-In For Flights Early
Most airlines let you check in to your flight 24 hours in advance. Set a simple reminder on your phone (ask Siri or Cortana) and click the check-in link in your email. Most airlines give seating priority to those who check in first.
If you can’t do it, have an assistant or family member take this step for you. For example, if you’re giving a speech 24 hours before your flight leaves, ask a coworker or spouse to complete the check-in.
Use Nationwide Memberships
Do you get massages every month, or go to the gym? When traveling domestically, you can save money and get priority appointments with memberships that will cover you nationwide. With a subscription to Hand & Stone (a massage chair), you can get a member rate on massages and find locations in most major cities.
AAA also offers great deals to members who travel frequently. Also, to help when your car breaks down, AAA does the same thing for members traveling by bicycle. You’ll also get identity theft protection—useful as frequent travel puts you at higher risk. AAA offers trip interruption expense reimbursement and has a network of local agents you can talk to or see in person when things get tricky on the go. You’ll also get member discounts on select hotels and theme parks.
Keep Your Routines
Being in a different city every night certainly disrupts your routines. Even if you enjoy partying after-work events and doing spontaneous, unpredictable things, you still need methods to complement positive mental health. Nighttime and morning rituals are typically the easiest for us to maintain. Consider:
Journaling before bed
Watching Netflix for an hour in the evening
Calling a loved one each night
Checking your email first thing in the morning
Skyping with your family every night
Showering at the same time each day
Getting into your pajamas at the same time each night
There are also travel rituals. These can include placing a picture of your family or a loved one near the bed, leaving a spiritual item out, or buying a new book every time you travel.
Share Your Calendar
When you travel often, it’s hard for family and friends even to remember where you are or when you’ll be home. That makes planning at-home activities particularly challenging. Help them out by creating and sharing a Google calendar with your travel itinerary. Highlight the days you’ll be home and enable permissions for them to add and change events on those days.
It can also help your family understand how and why you’re so busy. Travel takes a lot out of you, so if you need days before and after a trip to decompress, mark them on the calendar and have a conversation with them.
Get a Virtual Assistant
If you don’t have Google setting appointments for you yet with its automated system, chances are you’ll need some human-powered help. When you travel, plans are never perfect. Flights get delayed, meetings get moved, and you need to retain the ability to schedule your life around it.
A virtual assistant (or VA) can save the day. Most VAs are independent contractors, which means you can hire them for as many or few hours necessary each week. A virtual assistant saves the day when plans change, and you need to reschedule appointments. A VA can also handle menial tasks such as entering data into spreadsheets.
When hiring a virtual assistant, consider your needs. If you need a fluent English speaker and writer, make sure the VA is up to the task. If not, ensure that your international VA can respond to requests sent during regular work hours in your native time zone.
Your virtual assistant can also help you with a travel itinerary. This type of document should provide an overview of your day and include all phone numbers, addresses, and details about your schedule. For example:
Monday, January 21
9-10 AM: Complimentary hotel breakfast
10 AM-10:30 AM: Walk to 123 Green Avenue. Turn left out of your hotel, walk half a mile down Broad Street, then make a left on Green Avenue. The venue is a large green building called The Anderson Lodge with a big “123” sign.
10:30 AM: Check-in at registration at The Anderson Lodge. You will receive a conference badge (show your identification).
10:45-11:45 AM: Assist the sales department at the marketing booth on the expo floor. We are at box 1101 at the back of the main hall. Joe, Kathy, and Alvin will be there.
11:45 AM-12:45 PM: Scheduled lunch break. Save your receipt for reimbursement.
12:45 PM-3:30 PM: Assist the sales department at the marketing booth on the expo floor, box 1101.
3:45-4:30 PM: Participate in a panel about intergenerational social media marketing at the L Stage in Exhibit Hall C. Elle Wagner moderates this panel. Your notes are attached.
4:30-7 PM: Exit conference.
7-9 PM: Attend a marketing networking event. Your goal is to connect with someone at General Electric. The exchange at least 15 business cards. Business casual; cocktails served.
9-9:30 PM: Return to the hotel.
9:30 PM: Scan business cards and add notes to the system.
Vary Your Mode of Transportation
Many companies will assume you’ll want to travel by air. As any frequent flyer can tell you, flying isn’t always fun. Airport delays, turbulence, extended security and customs lines, rough landings, and lots of sick people on planes are only a few of the inconveniences of air travel.
For trips within a few hours, ask if you can drive. Your company may reimburse you for mileage or even provide a rental car.
Back-Up Important Documents Electronically
Your passport’s face page, your wedding photos, and local ID like a driver’s license: these items and more should have electronic back-ups that you can access securely via the cloud. If you lose your passport abroad and go to the consulate, by having an electronic copy available, the process of identifying you is sped up.
Apart from proving your identity, they’ll ensure you have access to everything you cherish, from your baby’s first laugh to the sound of your dog’s bark.
Print Important Information
Do you print out hard copies of your train and plane passes? You should. Phones often can’t connect to wifi or get signal, even at the airport—and also the most reliable battery charger packs sometimes lose charge rapidly. Having printed back-ups can speed up your process, even if your mobile device drops the ball.
Make sure you cross out identifying information before recycling paper passes to avoid identity theft issues.
Take Advantage of Business Expenses Related to Travel
If you’re a frequent traveler, remember that most travel expenses are business-related (as long as you’re traveling on business). Make sure to remember that when it comes to convenience, and consider what your company or organization will pay. Here are some additional travel expenses to consider investing in:
- TSA Pre-Check: This status lets you skip the long security line and head right up to the security check.
- Airline credit cards: Do you tend to use the same airline? Do you also use a credit card for business? You can rack up some free miles by using an airline credit card. Investigate the rewards (or have your virtual assistant do it). Rental car companies also offer bonuses and credit cards.
- Business-class upgrade: Depending on your schedule and what your preferences are, it may be more convenient to travel business class. Each mode of travel offers different amenities for business class travelers with business in mind.
- Airport lounge membership: Spend a lot of time in an airport? An airport lounge membership may be worth the convenience. Most of these places are quiet, have more room, and provide you with complimentary food and drink while you wait. Never worry about hunting for plugs for your electronic devices—you’re covered in an airport lounge.
- Rideshare expenses: Sometimes, time is money, and in larger cities like New York, it just makes more sense to grab an Uber, especially if it’s rush hour, and you’re not familiar with the metro system.
With these business travel hacks, you’ll have more of a sense of routine. You’ll save time, which can lower stress and create more opportunities for revenue. You’ll also consolidate complicated tools, understand where to go and when to get there, and realize what you need to expense and ask for when it comes to frequent business travel.