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Make Business Travel More Comfortable

Avoid upsetting flight delays and lost luggage with these 6 tips for business travelers.

Does running your own business mean you're signing up for a life of planes, trains and taxis? It can if you want it to, but I'm here to tell you there are some options if you like eating at home and sleeping in your own bed at night.

I've been selling to clients around the globe for seven years but have made a conscious decision not to live a life on the road. Don't get me wrong; I love taking trips with family and friends, but I have logged more than my fair share of frequent flier miles. When I started my own firm, I decided I was not going to get to know the flight attendants and hotel staff better than my neighbors again.

I now travel for board meetings and paid speaking engagements but almost never for a two-hour meeting because I have senior people in major markets who can represent the firm well. Here are 6 tips and ideas that can keep you sane on the road:

  • Try to concentrate your air miles on one or two carriers so that you develop a higher status as a frequent flier. Airline travel is so frustrating these days that every little bit helps. It's amazing what an extra five inches of legroom or early boarding privileges can do for an otherwise underwhelming customer experience.
  • Join an airport club for your airline of choice. You will inevitably have long layovers. When you can work in a comfortable chair or desk to check e-mails, or get a drink and snacks at the bar without standing in line with the masses, these travel delays are more tolerable.
  • Pack everything you need in a carry-on whenever possible. The airlines are losing luggage at record levels so having your bag with you (or sent ahead via an overnight service) will minimize the stress and maximize your flexibility in case flights are cancelled or re-routed.
  • Join a rental car club if you frequently need cars while you're on the road. This will save you time getting to your destination while others are standing in line. There's something about seeing your name in lights and knowing your car is waiting for you that adds a touch of class to all the travel hassles of the day.
  • If you're traveling abroad, make sure your passport isn't expiring in the next year because renewing it quickly can be a problem. A former colleague of mine who works for a Fortune 500 firm found out at the airport that his passport was expiring while he was supposed to be out of the country. Another colleague realized two weeks before her business trip was over that it had expired already. Avoid needless hassles and keep your passport active.
  • Pack healthy snacks for your trip. You always feel better when you keep your blood sugar levels consistent and are not forced to eat whatever the next fast food joint or food cart presents.

We have all heard stories about the Golden Age of Travel, but I think any entrepreneur would tell you that, for most of us, those days are long gone. In my last corporate job, top management flew by private plane to get to meetings quickly and efficiently.

Having access to a private jet sure makes those road warrior days a lot more tolerable and a lot less taxing on your body. I'd be more willing to join additional boards and agree to more speaking engagements if that were the deal.

But I still don't want a situation that would require me to travel most of the time for work. I now prefer sleeping in my own bed and having the creature comforts of home unless I am headed to Italy or France for some well needed R&R. Happy travels!

Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a strategic-marketing consulting firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as early stage and emerging businesses.

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