We can't control everything while we're on the road, but there are things we can do to make traveling more pleasant.
This is third in a series of tips for frequent travelers that can help travel go easier and with fewer surprises.
If you missed the first two articles, check out 25 Business Travel Tips and Secrets and 25 More Business Travel Tips and Secrets.
- Keep important information online. Use Box.net or Google to store and access your documents, media and content online when you're on the road.
- Keep up on business travel apps for your phone that help with documenting expenses, voice recording, translation, or fast access to travel sites.
- Put a list of all your prescription medications and their generic names on a card and keep it in your wallet.
- Print your boarding pass at home. You'll avoid lines at the airport kiosks and, if there are any computer problems at the airport, you'll already be set.
- Bring the magazines you haven't had a chance to read yet, and when you're done, pass them along to another traveler.
- Make sure your bag is tagged to the right place. If you check a bag, at the counter or at the gate, watch to see that the tag put on your bag shows the code for the right airport destination.
- Don't give away personal information. Never have your phone number or address visible on your luggage tags, but do put your contact information and itinerary inside your bag in case it gets lost and separated from its tags.
- Always have a small LED flashlight within easy reach, for when you drop something on the floor of the plane, need to find your way in a dark hotel room or for an emergency.
- If your phone is your lifeline, don't risk running out of juice. Carry a fully charged backup battery with you.
- Tired of lugging your laptop? Get a rolling bag for it to make it easier on your back and shoulders.
- Keep toiletries always ready to go. If you travel often or on short notice, get in the habit of replenishing and repacking your toiletries and basics, and you'll reduce your risk of forgetting something small but important
- Have short and long trip toiletry kits. If you go on both overnight trips and week-or-more business trips, keep a separate toiletry kit for each, one very minimal, the other with more necessities.
- Filter your own water. Avoid the expense and waste of buying bottled water by bringing a water bottle with a built-in filter like this Rubbermaid bottle, which I just ordered for my travels.
- Keep your rain gear handy. If you're going somewhere it might be raining, make sure your umbrella or raincoat is in a quickly accessible place, and not buried inside your suitcase.
- Carry a compass. If you're going to be navigating places you're unfamiliar with, a simple compass can help you get your bearings when reading maps.
- Make a MacGyver kit. Include a few strong rubber bands, waxed dental floss, a small roll of duct tape or gaffer's tape and safety pins in your bedside kit. They'll come in handy for everything from organizing papers, tying things together, repairing a bag to pinning your curtains closed.
- Only carry travel-sized products. You can make your own, or the website Minimus specializes in individually packed products that are in the travel department at the drug store, but with a huge selection. Check eBay for sample and travel sizes of your favorite upscale skin care and cosmetics.
- Make an all-electronics case that has a charger for every electronic thing you travel with, including cell phone, tablet or video camera, and other can't-live-without gadgets.
ON THE PLANE
- Cheap upgrades can give big benefits. Pay the extra for Economy Plus, Premium Economy (for more space) or Early Boarding (on Southwest where there is no assigned seating but $10 buys you first dibs). It's a little more money, but can save you both time and stress.
- Wear closed-toe comfortable shoes on the plane. High heels or flip-flops are a liability if there is an emergency. Slip-ons are easiest, and make sure they're big enough to accommodate if your feet swell a little.
- Wear compression socks on longer flights to minimize swollen ankles and the risk of clotting that can happen from long periods of sitting.
- Carry a compact onboard comfort kit with an eye mask, earplugs, soft socks, an inflatable pillow, mints, single-serve packets of nuts and trail mix, an energy bar, a face cleansing cloth, your favorite tea bags, lip balm, a silk blanket, and anything else that will make you comfortable on your flight.
- Loyalty points add up. If you have the choice, try to stay with the same family of hotels each time, because those points add up to discounts, upgrades and special treatment.
- Call ahead to confirm if you'll have a coffee maker. If so, bring instant oatmeal, soup and cocoa. If not, don't waste space on food that needs hot water.
- Leave yourself notes. When you run out of things on the road, or think of things you wish you'd brought, put a note inside the toiletry bag so you remember when you get home.
More business travel tips: