8 Ways You Can Do Business Travel More Comfortably -- and Cheaply
For those globetrotting entrepreneurs living on an airplane and in a hotel doesn't have to be miserable.
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The past five years have been the busiest of my life. I am constantly traveling to the factory in Asia that creates our OrigAudio portable audio products, attending trade shows and shopping the markets. This has caused me to go from a casual travel to practically living in the air. (I even got bumped up to United Airlines' Million Miler program.)
If I'm going to spend half of each year on the road, I might as well enjoy it.
Here are eight tips to get the most bang for your buck without sacrificing comfort.
1. Get the most out of each hotel stay
Anywhere you travel, there are bound to be dozens of hotel options at your destination. There are just as many ways to get the most out of that hotel stay, including discounts, free meals, upgrades and more. Here are a pointers on getting the most buck from your hotel.
- Consider staying near the airport. Hotels near airports receive less elite travelers, since the majority of business travelers stay downtown in premiere locations. Because of this, you're more likely to save money and receive free upgrades near the airport.
- Factor free food into the equation. Many hotels have executive lounge services that offer free dinners Sunday through Thursday and free cocktails for elite travelers. Free food perks go a long way in offsetting costs.
- Ask the hotel chains you frequent what types of programs they offer. The more you stay, the more automatic upgrades, suites, free stays and other perks you'll receive. It may require signing up for their credit card, but it can be more than worth it depending on their program and how often you travel.
- Consider booking online. Certain sites will offer rewards – like a free night -- for being loyal to them.
- Longer stays at the same hotel can come with discounts. Several chains offer the fifth night's stay for free.
2. Put on your sweatshirt
A sweatshirt is the Swiss Army knife of apparel. The versatility and comfort of a hooded sweatshirt when traveling can't be overstated. They keep you warm on cold flights, are significantly more comfortable than a dress shirt or polo and make a more comfortable and sanitary pillow option.
3. Take a layover where upgrades are likely
Instead of flying directly to Hong Kong from San Francisco -- a very busy flight -- I make a stop in Tokyo. Why? Because there are always less crowded and multiple flights per day to Tokyo from San Francisco, and the chances of receiving a free upgrade are much higher.
There is also a 24-hour layover policy on United, meaning I can schedule meetings in Tokyo and make it back to the airport to continue my trip to Hong Kong without needing to stay in a hotel or booking a separate trip.
4. Sanitize and supplement
Staying healthy while traveling overseas and from coast to coast frequently requires being just a little bit germophobic. I don't get on a fight without hand sanitizer and taking an immune support vitamin like Airborne.
Find a routine that works for you and load up on that vitamin C.
5. Think about timing
Sleeping while on the road or in the air is difficult, and often not worth it. If traveling to Asia, I like to land around 6 pm and work on the plane, so after landing, I can get a good meal and a solid night's sleep while adjusting for the next day.
6. Pack a mobile pantry
Food options at tradeshows and within walking distance of hotels are average at best, yet, can be expensive.
I pack trail mix, health bars, beef jerky, and I've even brought jars of peanut butter and jelly with me on trips. Packing food that you're comfortable with helps you avoid starving yourself or spending too much on food you wouldn't usually pay for at all if at home.
7. Hydrate instead of intoxicate
People get intoxicated on flights, especially when there's free alcohol. Don't.
The last thing you want to be in a city while traveling for business is hungover and dehydrated on top of possibly being jet lagged in a new time zone. Force yourself to drink water while traveling to stay hydrated instead of those free glasses of wine and beer on planes.
8. Consider a private jet
While not for business, I recently took a ride on a private jet with my wife and our dog Teddy. We basically had the jet to ourselves and paid less than a standard commercial flight. There are several new services, including JetSuite, JetSmarter and SurfAir that allow you to book a private jet during an empty leg of their flight for dirt cheap. Splurge every once in a while and look forward to the successful entrepreneurship future.