Travel Hacks to Make Business Travel More Bearable

At first, business travel can seem exciting — a break in the office routine, an opportunity to explore new places. But after a while, the stresses of air travel and living out of a hotel room can begin to wear on you. As seasoned business travelers have learned, there are a few tricks of the trade to make some of those annoying aspects more endurable.

Today, we’re looking at some savvy packing and air travel tips that even the Ryan Binghams of the jet-setting world might find useful — then later this week, what you can do while on the ground at your destination.

Didn’t get that movie reference above? Well then, here’s our first survival tip of the day: Download “Up in the Air” to your portable device to watch on your next long-haul flight to see a true jet-setter (who’s logged nearly 10,000 million frequent flyer miles with American Airlines) in action.

Make up a grab-and-go bag

Save yourself the hassle of packing and repacking every time business takes you out of town by keeping in your carry-on the minimal amount of clothing, shoes and accessories you need, including 3-ounce liquid toiletries in a Ziploc™ bag, your travel pillow, sleep mask, earplugs and several pens to fill out customs forms.

Keep calm and carry-on

You can’t call yourself a true road warrior, buzzing in and out of airports, until you can fit everything you need during your trip in one carefully chosen carry-on. We love the one from Away™, which passes the bowling ball test and features two compartments (one for clothes, the other for shoes), a built-in laundry bag and a battery to recharge USB devices. When packing, try sticking to two pairs of shoes (wearing the bulkier pair on the plane), two pairs of pants and four to six tops. The money you save on checked baggage fees can be used toward hotel dry cleaning.

Skip the lines

You can’t call yourself a frequent flyer if you are not taking advantage of the Global Entry, TSA Pre✓®  and CLEAR, all part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler programs. After completing the application process, you'll be able to breeze right pass some long security lines.

Packing light

When building outfits for the trip, think versatile and what can be worn more than once. Knits, wools and cottons in neutral colors work well when mixing and matching. For women, a well-cut dress can transition from work to a night out after throwing on a cool-looking necklace or colorful scarf. For men, it may be a trendy pair of comfortable sneakers that can take them from the airplane to hotel gym and dinner out.

Know when to roll ‘em

Many travelers swear that rolling your clothes as opposed to folding them saves precious luggage space, but usually it works best for clothing made of nylon or cotton. Folding actually is a better option for cotton button-down shirts and slacks. And definitely invest in compressor bags, like Pack-Its from Eagle Creek®, which can reduce the content's volume by up to 80 percent.

Think outside the jewelry box

Keep smaller pieces of jewelry, such as earrings, rings and necklace chains, from getting lost by storing them in a daily pill holder. The seven tiny compartments are great for organizing your baubles and the holder itself weighs barely anything.

Belt it out

Guys, having that relaxed, disheveled look may be cool for the weekends but is so not appropriate when meeting clients during a business trip. To be sure you’re button-down shirt is looking crisp and doesn’t get rumpled in your bag, place a coiled belt into the collar to keep it stiff.

Fresh upon arrival

Sometimes an older piece of luggage can make the clothes inside not smell so nice. To give them a pleasant fragrance, stick a dryer sheet (which also prevents static cling) or a sachet in your bag. While you’re at it, throw one in your laundry bag to combat the stench of the soiled clothing coming back home.

Air travel attire

For the plane, you’ll want to wear something that’s comfy and loose-fitting yet also stylish. Wearing layers is a great way to cope with the airplane’s fluctuating temperatures (and can save space in your bag). Pants or a jacket with deep pockets also are ideal, so you constantly won’t be digging around in your bag searching for your phone, passport and boarding pass. If the weather in your destination calls for a heavy coat, wear it on the plane and use it as extra protection if your seat buddy’s AC is on full blast. Or don a lightweight feather down jacket, which can double as a pillow.

The best seat in the plane

No need to play Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo when looking at the aircraft seating chart and selecting your spot for the flight. If your travel policy doesn’t allow for first or business class seats, SeatGuru® — which has seat reviews and a color-coded system for identifying superior / substandard seats — can help find you the next best thing.

Overall, a good rule-of-thumb is to avoid the seats in front of an exit row and at the very back of the plane, since these do not recline, as well as the ones facing the bulkhead, which generally provide more legroom but also is where parents often travel with their babies. And if your stomach churns even at the thought of turbulence, select a seat over the wings, which offer a smoother ride than seats closer to the nose or tail.

Landing in a new time zone

To battle the effects of jet lag, avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol on the plane, which can disrupt your sleep. Since dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of jet lag, be sure to drink plenty of H20. Goji berries, cherries, cantaloupe and ginger — these are some of the foods to eat to help reset your internal clock.

Once you land in your destination, adjust your watch to the local time zone to get yourself psychologically aligned, and do your best to adapt to the new time by trying not to take any naps. If you can make it until 9 p.m. local time before hitting the sack, your reward will be a splendid night’s sleep.