Business Travel: 7 Tips to Save Time, Money, and Brainpower

By Electric Pen

It seemed like nothing went right that morning.  A delayed airport shuttle and extra-long security lines furthered the exhaustion I felt after attending an intense three-day conference. All I wanted was to get home, but that would have to wait. I missed my flight.

As a small business owner, traveling is part of my job. I make regular trips to service our San Francisco office and for client meetings in Chicago. But travel presents inherent challenges, so I started troubleshooting them like any business problem. Many miles later, I’ve come to terms with life in the sky, and now even relish the uninterrupted hours that flying affords me. To be my most productive self while traveling, I’ve mastered a few tips for maximizing my time both on the ground and in the air:

1. Book the First Flight Out. I am a morning person, so I particularly enjoy early flights as they allow me to travel with little disruption to my sleep schedule. The night before, I fully charge all my devices, because I never know what type of outlet accessibility I’ll have at the airport or on the plane.

2. Sign up for TSA Pre or Global Entry. Save time and avoid long security lines.

3. Pay for Premium Services. I fly on only one airline—Alaska. This way, I accrue enough miles to gain elite status and have access to benefits and upgrades. Elite status allows me to get on and off the plane quickly, earn double miles for every trip, and, for a price break, take advantage of the Alaska business lounge. The lounge is key to my early-morning productivity with plenty of seating, room to spread out, fast internet, amenities, and a quiet space to work. A sanctuary within the airport, I consider it my office away from the office. I also purchased an executive club membership for my rental car provider. This enables me to bypass the counter, go straight to my vehicle, and drive off the lot.

4. Stay Healthy. I don’t drink alcohol on the plane; it’s dehydrating and increases jet lag. In addition, I usually do not eat on the flight, as the drop in cabin pressure can adversely affect my digestion. Although I admit, if I’m lucky enough to get bumped to first class, I will eat whatever they put in front of me!

I pound water the entire flight. Since I always book an aisle seat, I don’t have to crawl over people to get to the restroom. Walking around with some consistency keeps my blood circulating and prevents deep vein thrombosis (blood clots).

5. Cancel the Noise. I am an extrovert, but when I travel, I am Mr. Anti-Social. As soon as I arrive at the airport, I put on my Bose noise-canceling headphones. They help disperse the chaos of the terminal that I find so tiring. Anything I can do to control one of my stimulus points (auditory) will do wonders for keeping fatigue at bay.

6. Catnap. My brain feels clearer after a short (think 10-minute) nap. Utilize those built-in headrests on the seat to protect your neck. But don’t knock out for an hour as that will leave you feeling groggy and mess with your sleep cycle.

7. Be Loyal. Stick with one airline, car rental, and hotel and, as much as possible, utilize them when you travel. This will earn you loyalty and status, enabling you to qualify for upgrades, point bonuses, and perquisites that will help ease your travel.

Between working in the business lounge and again on the plane, I get in almost a full day’s work on my Chicago flights. These travel habits I’ve honed allow me to walk off the plane with my energy level up and ready for business!