Cancelled flights. Missed connections. Lost luggage. Frequent business travelers know that delays and other travel hiccups are inevitable — but while you can’t avoid all disruptions, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of encountering unexpected hassles on your next trip.

Just a little bit of extra upfront prepwork can help every mile of your travel go smoother. From pre-trip planning and packing tips to improving your experience once you’ve arrived, this comprehensive guide is loaded with smart hacks and tricks for a successful trip.

10 things to do before you leave

Are you looking for business travel hacks to make work trips easier? Planning makes perfect, so we’ve rounded up 10 clever tips to help you prep for your next trip.

1. Schedule wisely

When booking flights, opt for the first flight out whenever possible to limit the chance of a delay. If you can’t get a direct flight, plan for a layover between flights that gives you enough of a cushion to make it to your gate if your first flight is delayed.

2. Stay central

Before you book your lodgings, think carefully about where you’re staying. The best hotels for business travel are centrally located and offer amenities like free Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, guest laundry, and shuttle services to the airport.

3. Loyalty programs

Sign up for airline and hotel rewards programs so you don’t miss out on perks like access to airport lounges, priority boarding, and upgrades. If you travel frequently, you may want to consider applying for a travel credit card that earns you points for all your purchases.

4. Travel documents

Gather the basics – your passport, visa, driver’s license, and any necessary ID cards. Make photocopies of all these important documents and keep them in a safe spot; store digital copies securely as a backup.

5. Itinerary

Print out a copy of your work trip itinerary, complete with flight details, hotel reservations, and meeting schedules, and stash it in your carry-on luggage.

6. Be informed

Review your corporate travel policy and talk to your company’s travel management team about travel insurance that covers emergencies, medical expenses, and trip cancellations; if you purchase travel insurance, keep details about the policy handy.

7. Cell service

Check in with your mobile phone provider to make sure your cell plan provides service, especially if you’re planning international travel. You should also make sure your phone has a hot spot so you don’t have to rely on an insecure public Wi-Fi network that could put you at risk of cybercrime.

8. Credit Cards and Cash

Carry multiple payment options, including credit cards, a small amount of local currency if you’re traveling internationally, and some emergency cash.

9. Travel with a carry-on

Whenever possible, avoid checking luggage. Limiting yourself to a carry-on bag will save you time and eliminate the headache of lost or delayed luggage — plus, it will help you cull down what you bring so you’re not carrying a lot of non-essentials on your work trip.

10. Speed through security

Long lines at security can mean missed flights. Sign up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry and make sure any toiletries and liquids in your carry-on are 3.4 ounces or less so you can get through security lines faster.

What not to forget on a business trip: 13 essential items you don’t want to forget

Whether you’re traveling overseas or domestically, packing for a business trip is a delicate balancing act. You don’t want to overpack and end up lugging around lots of stuff you don’t need, but in your quest to pack light, you don’t want to go too far and leave important things behind. This checklist highlights the 13 best items for business travel to bring on your next trip:

  1. Clothing: Plan your outfits efficiently, mixing and matching to reduce the number of items you need; choose clothing that doesn’t wrinkle easily to avoid having to iron every day.
  2. Versatile shoes: Pack versatile shoes that match multiple outfits; stuff your shoes with socks and other small garments to save room in your suitcase.
  3. Noise-canceling headphones and earplugs: These can be a lifesaver for blocking out distractions on crowded flights and in noisy hotel rooms.
  4. Portable charger: A small charger your devices stay charged throughout your journey.
  5. Travel adapter: If you’re traveling internationally, invest in a universal adapter to charge your devices in different countries.
  6. Laptop and Accessories: Tuck your laptop, tablet, charger, power bank, and any necessary accessories into your carry-on.
  7. Travel-size first aid kit: Pack a kit that includes essential medications and basic medical supplies.
  8. Reusable water bottle: Dehydration can make you feel sluggish and and can even worsen jet lag symptoms. Bring along your own reusable, spill-proof bottle so you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
  9. Notepad and pens: Bring a small notebook and pens for note-taking.
  10. Travel pillow and eye mask: Make your journey more comfortable with a compact pillow and eye mask so you can get a rest on long flights.
  11. Compact umbrella: Toss a mini umbrella in your carry-on to be prepared for sudden downpours.
  12. Travel-sized laundry detergent: If you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, consider doing laundry at your hotel to reduce the amount of clothing you need to pack.
  13. Business cards: We may be living in a LinkedIn world but business cards are still very useful for networking. Be sure to bring along a supply to pass out at all your business meetings.

3 travel hacks to make your journey easier

Pre-trip planning is important, but once you’re on your way, there are a few things you can do to make your trip easier and more comfortable:

1. Use apps

Download travel apps for real-time flight updates, seat selection, boarding passes, rental car reservations, hotel bookings, navigation, and more.

2. Take care of yourself

Don’t neglect your health while you’re on the road. Choose healthy, well-balanced meals, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and stick to your regular exercise routine by hitting the hotel gym, going for a jog, or sneaking in a quick workout in your room.

3. Keep track of expenses

Hold onto receipts and keep records of your expenditures to make filing your expense report easier.

Take time to enjoy the journey

And one last tip… while travel may be necessary for your professional success, when done right, it can also enrich your personal life in very real ways. As you rack up the miles, focus on getting as much out of your time outside the office as you can. Make it a point to engage with the local culture: look beyond the hotel restaurant and chains for meals, do some sightseeing, and seek out locals to gain insight into the location and make your trip a more authentic experience.

Ready to put these business travel tips and tricks into action? Streamline your journeys and maximize your productivity with AMEX Global Business Travel.