On the move – Travel like an EXPERT

 

Ready to travel? You packed your bags? Planned your route? Ready to go?

Rule No. 1: Expect the unexpected – and have emergency plans at hand!

Your bags are packed, devices charged, documents on hand, and you are ready to go. You planned your transportation and included enough buffer time, now make sure to not miss your ride to the airport.

Once on the road, your journey started. Now it’s only about not missing your flight and get through the airport hassle as smooth as possible. Take traffic jams, construction grounds and people not being able to drive (yeah, you know which people I am talking of) into consideration. If you have planned enough buffer time, you can keep your cool and stay relaxed even if things go wrong.

When approaching the airport, jump off your ride at the right terminal. Since you didn’t bring any check-in luggage and already have your boarding pass on hand, go straight to the security checkpoint. If, for whatever reason, you brought extra luggage and didn’t check in yet, you go wait in line to check-in your luggage and get your boarding pass.

 

Getting fast and without problems through security check:

Take a close look at the queues before you line up in one. Pick the one with most business-looking people, because they just want to get through the check. They have done that hundreds of times and see it as a hassle so they will prepare everything to get through without any problems. This queue will usually be the fastest.

Avoid lines with traveling families. They are on vacation and enjoy their time. They may also not travel very often so their security check may not go totally smooth and may take a little longer. Same goes for our elderly. Some are very fit and experienced travelers, others aren’t and may need a little longer. Avoid queues with people that carry more than two pieces of luggage around (that includes paper bags, pillows and everything that looks like relaxation).

If the airport uses different types of scanners, try to line up at the faster one. Modern full body scanners take a little longer. You have to walk in, stand in a specific position and wait a second or two for scanning, then you walk out and the next passenger can walk in. Compare the line to simple walk-through metal detectors, where you simply walk through. No stop or specific position. They are usually faster, but if someone forgot to remove some metal pieces from the wardrobe, it may slow down the line.

You are dressed like a professional! I can’t stress it enough. You look like a business person who travels on a regular basis. You know which pieces (belt, shoes, etc.) you have to take off for the check. The security personal will not expect you to carry any souvenirs in your luggage.

Experience shows that the security check goes a little smoother when dressed appropriately and you know what to do.

Place your laptop, tablet, phone, etc. in one of the trays on the conveyor. Take off your shoes, belt, watch, sunglasses (yes, some people wear sunglasses inside an airport), jackets (also the jacket of your suit), any accessories like scarfs or hats, and sometimes even rings, and place it in another tray. Empty your pockets and you are good to go through the scanner. Ladies, wear flat shoes. High heels definitely look great but you will have to take them off to be scanned. You can change the shoes after the security check again. Flat shoes are also more practicable in case you are a bit late and need to hurry.

Leave the transparent zipper bag containing liquids in your luggage. Don’t have any liquids with you which are not in a zipper bag or too large in volume. You won’t be able to bring them. If you still want to try, security personnel will throw it away. You won’t get that back.

Since simple water (and everything else) is more expensive inside an airport, you may consider to bring an empty plastic bottle with you to refill it after the security check. Airports are usually equipped with free water dispensers, so no need to buy the expensive bottled water.

 

You made it to the other side. Collect your belongings and complete your wardrobe. Find your flight on the departing flights overview monitors to know which gate you have to go to and how much time you have left.

Personally, I always go and find my gate first, just to make sure I don’t underestimate the walkways. Once at the gate, I know exactly how much time I have to browse around, get some food, find a restroom to refresh, or do some work.

 

If you happen to travel with colleagues or clients, social and network with them. That’s a great chance to get to know them on a personal level, which will make it a lot easier to work with them. But don’t be too pushy. Don’t steal all their privacy if you notice they aren’t comfortable.

 

Transportation at the destination:

Taxis are possibly the most convenient, but also the most expensive option. Just make sure it is an actual taxi with license. In some parts of the world it is not uncommon to kidnap business travelers using fake taxis.

Uber, Lyft, or other local options work good as well and are cheaper than a taxi.

If you are somewhat experienced with public transportation and can read maps, you can take subways or busses (if there are any and if you dare).

You can also try to organize your ride with a friend or colleague upfront.

Research if the hotel you are staying at offers a shuttle service. If yes, you can arrange the ride according to your arrival and departure times.

In some areas, you may not get too far without a car, so you will most likely get a rental car. As you are prepared well, you reserved a vehicle and simply pick it up. If you get a rental car and you can spot higher category cars when arriving, try to negotiate an upgrade. Premium cars can cost an arm and a leg, but counter reps will negotiate much lower prices if they are available when you pick up your car. Be sure to know your travel regulations on whether you have room to negotiate or whether you have to stick with what was booked.

 

Hotel:

Your room is reserved but you have limited control over where this room will be located within the building. Ask for the most relevant information (if the receptionist doesn’t tell you already): Where and when can you have breakfast? Do you need a WIFI code? Is the company address correct? If you need to check out fast, you have no time for correcting an invoice – from a fiscal perspective make sure the address and company name is correct. You can just hand over a business card for the service desk to enter the information. Make sure to double-check.

When entering your room, check first if it is prepared for a guest. If the room looks used, call the service desk immediately. Sometimes technology and humans in combination cause problems and the room shows as cleaned in the system but not reality it isn’t. If you forgot basic hygene articles, ask at the reception. Most hotels have emergency kits available. Same goes for extra towels, slippers, etc.

If you decide to have breakfast at the hotel, be friendly, open and say “Good morning” when you enter the room. You never know if other business partners or potential clients are sitting their as well. First impressions can also be made at the breakfast table. Don’t load your plate too full – rather go several times to the buffet.

 

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When it comes to money: Keep all receipts so you can get reimbursed for your expenses. Submit your expenses as soon as possible in the form you were told to. Especially in sales, you may be allowed to invite clients to dinner. Just make sure that you are allowed to do that and the company will cover the costs. Don’t starve yourself trying to save the company some money, but also don’t go overboard. Just remember that someone will have to approve whatever you paid with company-money.

 

In general:

Travel time is considered working time. Prepare for your upcoming visits and meetings. Go through documentations you received and prepare accordingly. Prepare your own presentations. You can write emails. They will be send out as soon as you are online again.

Since it is a business trip, it is not supposed to fulfill your personal desire to go and see places. Your employer may be ok with you arriving a day or two earlier and/or stay a little longer. Check if that is ok, so you get a chance to go sight seeing. Usually you will have to pay the hotel for those additional days yourself. If a earlier or later flight is the same price, they usually are still covered since there’s no deficit for the company.

It is not an all-inclusive vacation trip but the company will pay for your expenses and usually your manager will be ok with you combining this business trip with some private sight seeing.

 

Now go out and gain some experience on your own. With these tips you will be able to avoid most beginner mistakes and if you keep your eyes open you will see other people making them.