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Make 2018 the 'Year of the Business Travel Hack.' Here Are 4 to Get You Started. The next time you hit the road, put together a travel process that keeps you on top of your game -- and don't forget those charging packs.

By Ari Rabban

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Even entrepreneurs who wouldn't necessarily designate themselves "traveling businesspeople" aren't immune to traveling for work. In fact, of the millions of trips Americans take annually, 16 percent are at least partially for business purposes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Related: Make Wellness Travel a Staple in Company Trips for Happy, Productive Employees

In other words, entrepreneurs this year are statistically likely to have unwanted dates with long airport security lines, missed connections, people who take up the whole lane on the moving walkway -- and the dreaded middle seat. None of these unpleasantries are exactly relaxing, but with a little planning, entrepreneurs can turn downtime into productivity -- with or without wi-fi.

It all starts with reimagining the travel experience and jettisoning negative expectations. Sure, traffic will be heavy at times -- especially over summer vacations and holidays -- and there are bound to be occasional weather- or maintenance-related delays. But none of that means you can't get things done as you fly from coast to coast or around the globe. You just need a few solid hacks to help you brush off the chaos and maximize the possibilities.

1. Shop for apps before you leave town.

It's a cliché, but with more than 2.2 million apps in Apple's App Store alone, according to Statista, there really is an app for everything. That includes getting around in unfamiliar airports and cities. By taking advantage of the newest technologies, you'll breeze through check-ins, stay productive and enjoy eateries only the locals know about. Slack, Yelp, FlightAware and Uber can all make life much simpler on the road by helping you maintain contact with your employees and fostering a more pleasant travel experience.

Related: Top 5 Trends for Travel Apps in 2017

2. Pay more to get more.

Sometimes, spending money is worth it in the long run. From purchasing extra amenities like a battery pack and a hot spot, to signing up for rewards and rebate programs that allow you to accumulate hotel points and extra miles, your willingness to pay more for the convenience of traveling the way you want to and working when you need to is essential to staying productive on the road.

Perhaps the most important item in the "pay more" category is the nonstop flight. While nonstrop won't be as cheap as a flight with several stops, the first time you find yourself stuck in a hotel at O'Hare because you missed a connection, you'll understand why spending more for this perk is a wise solution.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, roughly 79 percent of all flights in the United States were on time in 2017. That may seem like a pretty good record, but if you can pay extra to avoid falling into the remaining 21 percent, you won't miss important meetings that are difficult to reschedule, and you'll save yourself a lot of hassle.

3. Take away the sting of missed calls, with VoIP.

Tired of spending too much on international calls or missing important business calls because you weren't in the office? Voice-over internet protocol, or VoIP (also called cloud telephony), solves that problem. Tech.Co notes that VoIP services can reduce the cost of international calls by up to 90 percent; and, assuming you're using VoIP at your company, you can just download a VoIP app to make and receive calls. It's a perfect solution for the global jet-setter.

Most apps of this variety give you screening options so you can skip unimportant calls while still staying in contact with the office and your clients. VoIP also doesn't require you to give out your personal cell number, as callers will simply use your company's line to get in touch.

4. Don't forget to unwind.

Entrepreneurs rarely take time to relax when traveling, but travel -- even for business -- can provide an excellent opportunity for reflection. Although you may be cut off from the internet (unless, of course, you purchase a hot spot), flight time is prime time for getting your thoughts together and putting them down on actual (or virtual) paper.

Beyond that, every entrepreneur should think carefully about what's truly important to accomplish while traveling versus what can wait until everyone is back to a "normal" work schedule.

Whether you're doing the traveling yourself or have clients, family or friends coming to you, respect the time off that you and others have. One of the perks of getting out of the office and on to the road is the chance to take a step back, if only for a minute. Be sure to balance the entrepreneurial "always on" impulse with an acknowledgement that you and others truly need to relax and recharge.

Related: Save Money on Business-Travel Expenses With These 5 Hacks

Whether you're traveling for business or a mix of business and pleasure, you can't afford to lose output, but you shouldn't lose yourself in your work, either. Relying on tech tools and not skimping when it comes to amenities can help you optimize your travel while still allowing you to unwind when necessary. So, the next time you hit the road, put together a travel process that keeps you on top of your game -- and don't forget those charging packs.

Ari Rabban

CEO of Phone.com

 Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council. You can follow him on Twitter @arabban.

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