Business travel loses its luster pretty fast. When you’re just starting out, the idea of jet-setting around the country to meet clients and colleagues is pretty sexy. In a world of Facebook updates, tweets and Foursquare check-ins, I always found it cool to say “Hey, I’m going places doing stuff!” (Shameless, I know.) But, after a couple of years, the initial excitement wears off, and pretty soon, you’re just trying to find ways to minimize the negative impact of your travel.
Maybe it has to do with having increased responsibility (or maybe it’s just because sitting in airports during your third straight flight delay is not fun), but travel is stressful. Much like work doesn’t really stop during vacations, things keep rolling right along when you’re flying (or driving). Thankfully, there are a few ways you can stop travel from ravaging your productivity.
1) Find an airline with WiFi. I used to be more sensitive about prices for flights (even though I don’t pay for work travel), but if you give me a choice between a $300 flight without WiFi and $400 with…I’ll take the WiFi. This is especially important if you’re flying long distances east (6 hours in the air and a 3-hour time change, anyone?) and less so for puddle jumps within the same time zone.
2) Travel around work hours. You might say: “Hey! I’m always working,” and I’d agree with you. That said, it’s better to grab 6am and 6pm flights than scheduling travel during the middle of the day. Flights with WiFi minimize the problem, but if you’re flying outside of work hours AND you’re online, you’ll be in great shape. Price might throw a monkey wrench in your plans, but that’s why you should…
3) Book flights early! In my experience, you book flights early and hotels late. Airline companies have (finally) gotten better at maximizing the number of folks they cram on flights, so getting the jump on booking is a major plus. You’ll probably get a better deal and won’t get stuck in the middle. Hotel-wise…
4) Book hotels later. Unless you’re traveling to a small market with few options, you might even want to wait until you’re on the plane (with WiFi of course) to book your flight. (Disclaimer: in-flight WiFi can be inconsistent, so don’t cut it THAT close). I don’t think I’ve booked a hotel in New York more than a week in advance. The city just doesn’t run out of 4-star rooms, and you can find some great last-minute deals on sites like Guestmob.
5) Be prepared for delays. Both mental and physical, that is. Delays are part and parcel of business travel, so grab a book/magazine, make sure you have all the right files teed up on your laptop (a small one, hopefully), and get used to those awful airport chairs. I used to wing it and just show up at airports expecting the best (I had an amazing streak of 10 on-time departures last year and got lazy), but check your flight status. Never get too comfortable (no matter how great your airline is…looking at you, Virgin America).
6) Make use of those miles. An oldy but goody: take advantage of all that business travel and reward yourself down the road. Sure, it equates to more airport stress, but you should be picking a fun place to go to make up for it all.
While much of this stuff might be old hat for some, many folks in online marketing are new to the travails of business travel. It’s one thing to deal with security-line shenanigans (liquids and belts, people!) when you’re heading off on a great adventure, but doing it twice a month (or more) is another thing altogether. By getting your mind right and following a few of these steps, you’ll feel less of an impact on work. You can still work from your hotel until 2am (hi there, jetlag), but at least the choice will be yours. Knowing you’ll be more productive will ease your stress, and delivering on that promise will make it easier to get authorization to spend a little extra on perks like WiFi. Who knows, you might convince someone to buy you a first-class seat next time (need that room to work, no?).
- Sean Marshall, Director of Client Services