100+ Incredible Business Travel Tips
tl;dr: Our favorite advice for first-time and frequent corporate travelers
Whether you’re a globetrotting road warrior or about to head out for your first business trip, it always helps to have some tips and tricks from seasoned corporate travelers. Lola.com is fortunate enough to have a large network of frequent business travelers, so we decided to phone our friends and compile some of our favorite tips for business travel.
And it seems like we struck a chord because we received hundreds of pieces of actionable advice from frequent flyers and savvy business travelers. How to stave off jet lag, how to save money and stay in budget, the best credit card for travel rewards, tips and tricks for a good night’s sleep, packing tips for carry-on luggage, and so, so much more.
In fact, we got so many great tips, that we tried our best to boil it down to our 13 favorite tips and tricks, before going deep in the weeds for more specific sub-sections.
Top 13 Business Travel Tips
- Take the first flights/trains out in the morning — far less likely to experience delays and you might get an additional meeting that day.
- Make an ‘Oh Sh*t’ bag — tiny sewing kit, bladeless swiss army multi-tool (TSA approved!), eye drops, Tide™ stick, some mints, two pairs of extra contacts and two of everything in your medicine cabinet (consolidated into one pillbox).
- Carry your hotel’s business card with you — even if you have no service or have had a little too much ‘fun’ you’ll have the info you need on you at all times to get back safely.
- Know your company’s T&E policy and build a relationship with your travel manager before you head out — understanding what’s in and out of policy and the proper process ahead of time can help you save money, keep your own savings account out of the equation, and minimize unexpected travel expenses.
- Be aware of any city- or airport-specific rideshare legislation for places you’re new to — it’s a tenuous and constantly moving space, and knowing the rules in advance can smooth out your trip and plan accordingly.
- Get to know the flight attendants and hotel staff If you travel the same route/to the same hotels often — kindness and understanding can often be rewarded and help make your flight / hotel stay a lot less impersonal.
- Utilize the comments section of your hotel booking — ask to be away from elevators / ice machines / noisy areas so you get a good night’s sleep and improve your overall health and well-being.
- Get the AMEX platinum credit card (or similar travel-focused credit card) for amazing travel benefits including priority pass for lounge access, frequent flyer points multipliers, hotel perks, and other business travel benefits.
- Make reservations at restaurants before you get to your destination, especially if you’re visiting for a huge industry conference — it’s one of the best ways to save time and avoid frustrating lines when you’re hungry and/or fighting jet lag.
- Carry at least 100 USD cash in local currency — no one likes running out of money at the wrong time, and it’s an easy way to cover small travel expenses when paying via credit card is not an option.
- Use the plane time to work on yourself — read, plan, write, or sleep. Many business travel tips focus on being more productive, but some business travelers need exactly the opposite — a plan to help them improve their health and well-being and ways to save their energy for the real purpose of their trip.
- International travelers should download the Mobile Passport app to speed past U.S. Border Control — it’s free (though there is a paid version), great for frequent flyers, pairs with your boarding pass, and one of the best ways to save time at security so you can get to your hotel or client meeting as quickly as possible.
- Invest in a high-quality suitcase — you’ll never have to worry about your bag falling apart when you’re halfway across the world
But these are just 13 tips of the business travel iceberg if you will. In the rest of the guide, we break our advice into four sections:
- Tips for First-Time Business Travelers
- Tips and Tricks for Frequent Business Travelers
- Common Business Travel Mistakes to Avoid
- How to Stay in Budget and Save on Common Expenses
So pack your bags and let’s dive in!
Tips for first-time business travelers
We all start somewhere, and even the most frequent flyers were once inexperienced business travelers nervously clutching their boarding passes. Luckily, the road warriors in our network have plenty of tips and tricks for corporate travel newbies.
Much of this advice centers around the financial aspect of corporate travel – ways to save money and keep in budget, how to rein in monthly expenses and keep credit card charges organized — because this aspect is often the most confusing for new travelers. But a surprising amount also focused on smoothing over small (but frustrating inconveniences) like wardrobe malfunctions, power failures, and international travel snafus.
- Top tip: Carry your hotel’s business card with you, so you’ll never get lost even if there’s no service (Ari Buchler)
- Top Tip: Use the plane time to work on yourself — read, plan, write, or sleep (Ryan Barry, Zappi)
- Download movies / music/ digital books / games to your computer/tablet ahead of time to avoid having to deal with in-flight wifi issues (Nicole Pereira, Chief Martech Officer)
- Keep an external battery pack, phone charger and universal adapter in your carry-on (Gareth Goh, DataRobot)
- Double tag your checked bag and make sure to include home address, email, and phone number all on both tags — nothing worse than losing your checked bag! (Chris Evens, Onshape)
- Skim the negative reviews for your hotel in advance, that way you can know what to ask for at check in (Alicia Thomas, Crayon)
- Keep a copy of your passport in a drafts folder of email so you can access it from anywhere in case of an emergency (Suzanne Wolko)
- Clear nail polish is the most universal tool — fix a snag on your shirt or coat, hold together anything nylon, repair a small crack in your shoe, fix a charger, make your lights on your booth look better (Alison Harris, Bitdefender)
- Use the Google Maps feature with “departure times” to find out what your actual commute will be to your hotel (John Ledoux, Ledoux Consulting)
- Ask your cab or Uber driver where they take their family to eat when they go out — hidden gems abound (Dwight Griesman, Access)
- Keep your international electricity adapter wherever you keep your passport so when you grab one, you grab the other (Melissa Centrella, Monotype)
- Get an aisle seat on the side where your dominant hand is on the aisle side — makes it easier to use a mouse, write or grab items from your bag (Jeff Coveney, Digital Pi)
Tips for frequent business travelers
One thing we learned is that even the most frequent business travelers can benefit from hard-earned corporate travel wisdom. If you spend a ton of time on the road at hotels and on non-stop flights crisscrossing the globe, you’re going to love these tips and tricks about beating jet lag, optimizing health and well-being, and even making real human connections.
- Top Tip: Invest in a high-quality suitcase (and not one of those flashy, plastic direct-to-consumer bags). You’ll never have to worry about your bag falling apart when you’re halfway across the world (Erik Mansur, WordStream)
- Top Tip: Make an ‘Oh Sh*t’ bag: tiny sewing kit, bladeless swiss army multi-tool (TSA approved!), eye drops, tide stick, some mints, two pairs of extra contacts and two of everything in my medicine cabinet (consolidated into one pillbox) (Tommy Barth, Wayfair)
- Top Tip: If you travel the same route/to the same hotels often get to know the flight attendants and hotel staff - kindness and understanding can often be rewarded (Alicia Thomas, Crayon)
- Top Tip: International travelers should get the Mobile Passport app to breeze through passport control, far faster than those with Global Entry - and it costs nothing! (Ben Johnson, Rightpoint)
- Get TSA Precheck / Global Entry and NEVER check luggage — go for a roller travel suitcase that you can wheel side by side and a laptop bag that you can slide on the handle (Vishal Sunak, LinkSquares)
- Don’t be a jerk. Simple. Makes traveling easier for everyone, and makes you into a better frequent traveler (and, well, human) (Jeannine Lombardi Sheehan, Infusystem)
- Go light on shoes — they’re the biggest culprit in over-packing and make carry-ons bulky (John Judge, Crayon)
- If you’re traveling to the same place every week, leave your gym shoes at the hotel — most staff are happy to keep things in the back for frequent visitors (Inder Majumdar, WayCool)
- If you’re single, build in an extra day to see stuff. If you’re married, bring your partner with you. If you have kids, avoid travel on the weekends (Ryan Barry, Zappi)
Common business travel mistakes to avoid
It’s one thing to optimize your business travel routine, conquer small annoyances, and boil your business travel down to a science. It’s another to identify the common things that go wrong when you’re traveling for work, and make a plan to avoid them. Even road warriors fall victim to common business travel mistakes. Here’s the best advice we received about avoiding these common pitfalls while traveling for work.
Don’t get stuck without a table at a restaurant
- Top Tip: Make reservations at restaurants before you get to your destination, especially if you’re visiting for a huge industry conference — it’s one of the best ways to save time and avoid frustrating lines when you’re hungry and/or fighting jet lag (Bobby Vickers, Brennan Enterprises)
Don’t get caught without a ride
- Top Tip: Be aware of any city or airport specific rideshare legislation for places you’re new to. It’s a tenuous and constantly moving space (Jake Nelson, Building Engines)
Don’t stuck in a noisy hotel room
Avoid getting caught without cash
- Top Tip: Carry at least 100 USD cash in local currency so you don’t need to rely on your credit card or pay unnecessary exchange fees (Chris Evens, Onshape)
Don't let bad service / no data become an obstacle
- Download offline maps from google maps for your destination so you can navigate without using data (Ari Buchler)
Don’t get caught with overweight luggage
Keep your valuables / passport safe
Don’t get sick
Avoid last-minute packing
Don’t get caught with the wrong clothes
Don’t get stuck waiting for your ride
Defeat jet lag
How to save on common expenses
A huge part of traveling for business is finding ways to stay productive, healthy and happy on the road. But another important aspect is money: minimizing monthly expenses and other travel expenses, sticking to your company’s budget, protecting your own savings account, and understanding the ins and outs of your T&E policy.
Here are the best tips we received about saving money and staying within budget while traveling for work.
Avoid out-of-policy expenses
- Top Tip: Know the T&E policy and build a relationship with your company’s Travel Manager — know what types of purchases to avoid or how to move forward if you make a mistake (Suzanne Wolko)
Reap the rewards
Cut down your Uber bill
Avoid checked bag fees
- The best way to avoid having to check your bags is to have a travel wardrobe that is limited to two or three colors. When I used to travel a lot internationally, my work wardrobe was all black, grey, and beige. Sounds boring, but it made it much easier to travel for weeks on end with just a carry-on bag (Kathleen Slattery Booth, Attila Security)
Avoid expensive room service charges
- Order from the children’s menu for room service — less expensive, smaller portions, fewer calories (Suzanne Wolko)
Stay away from pricey bottled water
Avoid money changing fees
- For international cash, go to bank atms for the best conversion rates (Dwight Griesman)
Hopefully this guide helps you smooth out some of the rough edges of business travel, whether you’re new to traveling for work or have been racking up rewards points for years. But business travel is always changing, so we want to treat this guide as a living, breathing document. If you have some great business travel tips and tricks or see something missing from this list, add it to the comments! Packing tips, jet lag beaters, ways to save money, booking tips, flight hacks — we want them all.