The days of arriving at the airport five minutes before departure, rushing to the gate, and just getting to your seat before take-off? Long gone, and no one knows that better than business travelers – men and women who work on the road and know how to simplify business travel through today’s high-security, multi-checkpoint loading process.

Here are some tips from business travelers – people who’ve learned how to get on board, get a room, and enjoy a trip with fewer problems.

1. Pack light. Wear some of the clothes that you might otherwise pack in a larger piece of luggage. Business travelers recommend a wrinkle-proof pair of pants (wear them), a pair of comfortable shoes (wear them), a sweater (something else you can wear), a jacket and suit, if needed for a business meeting. Use your carry-on to pack undergarments and some dressy shirts or tops. They take up less space, so pack a week’s worth of under things. You never know when you’ll have time to do some “on-the-road” laundry.

2. Dress well. By looking professional in a tailored suit, you actually stand out from the crowd and make a good impression. Some say you might be less likely to be called aside for a “random” search if you dress like a business traveler.

3. Apply for a TSA Pre-Check Number. Fill out a simple online form, then go to an in-person appointment to get fingerprinted. Having the Pre-Check number (in most cases) will get you the airport lines faster and with less hassle.

4. Expect to be examined. Wear shoes that slip on and off. Even regular fliers – people who know the airport inspectors by name – undergo routine searches. Expect it. Dress for it. Get on board faster.

5. Book the cheapest rental car. The national car rental chains advertise rates, but often lack the exact car you reserved – the sub-compact cheapie. If the rental company doesn’t have the low-priced car you reserved, you usually get upgraded to a larger, better car. The exception to this rule is if you need a large car to carry a group of colleagues, your golf clubs, and six suitcases.

Rarely will you get down-graded by a car rental service, and if you do, you’ll pay less. However, upgrades are pretty common, and you have a better set of wheels at the discount price.

6. Ask for hotel upgrades. Check-in personnel often have discretion to upgrade a customer who simply asks. If there’s a better room available – one that doesn’t face the parking lot – you may get it at the same price as the lower-priced room you actually pay for. It doesn’t hurt to ask, “Do you have anything better?” The worst the clerk can say is, “No, I’m sorry.”

7. Book travel tickets and room reservations online. There are lots of online services that enable you to find the right flight at the right time at the right price. In many cases, when you book travel in advance you can save a few dollars, or eliminate a fee. With hotel rooms, you can find available rooms at the last minute to really cut on the cost of accommodations. Book late and save big, if you don’t have specific needs – you just need a place to sleep and get ready for your meeting. You might be able to save big on last-minute deals.

8. Use hotel concierge services. The hotel concierge can get you many things, from tickets to the game, to reservations at the best restaurants – and these services are part of the cost of your room (plus a nice tip). Even experienced business travelers can use a little guidance to find the best food in a strange town, and your hotel concierge can not only direct you to the right spot, they can get reservations, too.

9. Take your time. The plane lands, 300 people all stand up, pull luggage from the overhead bin…and stand there. Sometimes for 10 or 15 minutes, standing in the airplane aisle.  Use this time to get a little extra work in, check your room reservations, or just close your eyes for a quick power nap. You aren’t going anywhere. No one is. Might as well put this time to good use – even if it’s just resting your eyes until the crowd clears.

10. Set your watch to the time you’ll land. Adjusting to jet lag can be difficult after traveling time zones. Try to gradually adjust your sleep cycle to the place you’ll be staying, even if it means staying up past your bedtime, or going to bed at 7:00 PM.  Time zone challenges should be addressed as far in advance as possible to avoid dozing off during that critical meeting.

Face-to-face meetings still get the job done, demonstrating to clients and prospects that your company cares. However, if business travel is part of your business, teach your team to travel smart, to stay alert, and stay in touch.

It’s the way many of us do business today, and the way we enjoy greater business success using business travel as a smart sales tool.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC