12 Tips For Making Business Travel Bearable


Flashback to my college days . I had flown exactly one flight in my life – from TRV to MAD . My dream job was the one that let me fly all over the world and stay in great hotels and eat at fancy restaurants .

Fast forward to my current 43 year old self. I have flown millions of miles , stayed at extremely good and piss poor hotels and ditto about restaurants . If I never set foot on another flight for work ever again- I am sure I won’t complain even minimally 🙂

As I am typing this, I am on a plane on a 10 day international trip that will have 10 flights in the next 10 days . While it might sound a bit crazy to some of you – I can assure you it’s nowhere near the worst I have done . A lot of folks ask me for travel tips and I think now is as good a time to jot down some thoughts on how I make business travel bearable and occasionally great fun !

So here goes my dozen tips for what it’s worth

1. Book at least two weeks in advance – or more

Why ? Because you have better choice of seats , especially if you fly economy . And stick with the same airline so that you get a frequent flier status that makes travel a little better . Use your miles to upgrade every chance you get – life is better with comfortable seats 🙂

2. Packing

I try every trick in the book to not checkin my bag for domestic flights. For longer trips that might not be an option – but then always carry a smaller bag with a change of clothes . Checked bags get lost and it’s a bloody pain when it happens . I also hate paying for excess baggage – so I try hard to pack an absolute minimum of things I need . I always carry two books to read – and usually gift the good books to someone I meet.

3. Travel bag

If you travel frequently, the bags take tremendous abuse. So pay for quality construction and easy rolling. I also like long handles on my roller bag. I don’t use a suit case – and use a back pack . I am told it doesn’t look very executive like but I am willing to live with that . For one day to 5 days of travel – I use the same bag. Over 5 days I use a bigger bag. That’s all I need. Bags last me 6 to 10 years on average

4. Getting to the airport

I haven’t driven to airports in a long time – I use a cab or ride share. Plenty of time and money saved on parking and catching shuttles and all that .

5. Airline club

Absolutely great investment for frequent fliers and usually comes paired with their credit card . I liberally use my Admiral’s club membership . Being a frequent flier – it is cheaper to buy club membership in many airlines .

6. Window or Aisle ?

I like Aisle seats in general since it’s easier to get up and stretch . Windows are great if you want to lean against the wall and sleep . There are a few airports where I know the landing is spectacular and I take window seats on those . One more thing – wherever you sit , it’s important to be courteous to airline staff . They have a difficult and demanding job and it helps to show some appreciation . I also think there is some correlation to extra drink coupons and upgrades 🙂

7. Eating and drinking

I don’t like airplane food all that much – barring a few exceptions like Singapore air and the middle eastern carriers. Whenever possible I carry a small home cooked meal with me . I also try not to drink any alcohol when I fly – and if I do have a drink, I do it early in the flight and go to sleep . What I religiously do is keep drinking club soda. This also increases the bathroom breaks which in turn is great for stretching 🙂

8. Working in the plane

Plane rides are my “me time”. I try not to work when I am in a plane . I would rather sleep , read a book, post a blog or watch a movie . There are few exceptions – like international flights where I have to usually work a little bit . I also try not to strike up lengthy conversations with fellow passengers.

9. Global Entry

It’s literally the best $100 you can ever spend as a traveler . And TSA Pre comes with it . Absolute no brainer to take it and give a miss to the long immigration and customs lines

10. Hotels

I am loyal to Hilton and Marriott and hold a status on both. Simple rule on location – closest to wherever is the first meeting of the day after I check in . I don’t mind shifting to a different hotel mid week to suit where I need to be . My mobile is my alarm and I need exactly one beep to wake up . I don’t order room service generally but rely on uber eats heavily.

11. Sleep and exercise on the road

Many of my friends prioritize exercise – and I prioritize sleep . I function way better when I get 6-8 hrs of sleep. The primary motive for exercise for me is that it helps me sleep better . I don’t care for the hotel gym all that much. So I compensate by walking up stairs instead of using elevators , walking from office to hotel while avoiding taking a cab and so on

12. Never eat alone

It’s very rare that I land in some place where I absolutely don’t know anyone at all . I try really hard to meet old friends and colleagues for dinner when I am on the road. And I let them choose the place and that’s a lot of fun and I try to explore the local attractions as time permits . I was horrible at this when I started – it took me several trips before I noticed Eiffel Tower in Paris . Now I look outside the window and take in the scenery a little when I am in cabs . Conversations with uber drivers is also a great experience and I generally learn a lot from that .

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