How to Become A Savvy Business Traveler

man and woman at airport with carry-on bagsThe savvy business traveler has a system: what to do, when to do it, how to get there, when to go. Whether it’s a checklist they follow before each trip or ways they’ve discovered to make travel smoother, frequent travelers know the hacks and tips to make business travel pain-free and, dare we say, even enjoyable.

Want to be “in-the-know” and truly travel like a pro? We asked a seasoned veteran of the business travel world to divulge her secrets for success that have taken her from airport newbie to TSA Pre-Check royalty.

Pack Like a Pro

Judy Hurley is a business travel aficionado who visits several U.S. cities each week to host educational seminars. “Preparation is the key to a successful trip for me,” she says. “I have a master list that I reference before each trip and it gives me peace of mind to know as I check each item off the list that I won’t be forgetting anything. Then, I’m free to depart knowing I have everything I need.”

Hurley lists her basic essentials in a reusable checklist and prints it a day or so before her trip. Included on the list are must-haves such as clothes (broken down into specific lists like “dress shoes,” “pants,” etc.), then separate headings for toiletries, medications, and items for her carry-on bag, like her laptop, any necessary cables, chargers, and accessories. “Anything I might need is on the list, freeing me up for a stress-free departure because I know I’m not forgetting anything.”

She even has a final checklist at the bottom that lists tasks to complete right before walking out the door, such as watering the plants, turning off lights, taking her house key off the keychain, storing the rest of her keys in a desk drawer, and other last-minute to-dos that she doesn’t want to forget — or worry about later (like whether she left the garage door open).

When asked about luggage, Hurley only packs a carry-on bag and a personal item to avoid checked-bag fees and to speed up her travel time both before and after the flight. No need to check the bag ahead of time, no risk of lost luggage, no waiting at the baggage carousel. If you struggle to fit everything in one bag and regularly find yourself having to sit on your suitcase to get the zipper to just…go…one…more…inch, we recommend investing in packing cubes. These simple inventions are a godsend and can help you fit everything inside in the most efficient way possible (without having to sacrifice that extra sweater.)

She did say that whenever given the option to check her bag at the gate for free, she always accepts. It gets her earlier boarding than she might’ve had already and also frees her hands during a layover. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been glad I had checked my bag at the gate as I was running through the airport to catch my connecting flight,” she says. Just don’t forget to move any important documents or medications into your carry-on item in case your bag gets lost (and you may not have heard, but they don’t want you to check any spare lithium batteries either.)

women's clothes in suitcase

Know How to Fly

Have you ever found a decent price for your next flight, decided to wait a few days, and came back ready to buy only to find the price was now double what it was two days before? We know the feeling.

Apparently, the day of the week makes a huge difference for which rates you’ll see. According to an article in USA Today, booking a flight at the right time can save you 10% or more. While Fridays are the most expensive day to purchase airline tickets, Sundays rank cheapest with Saturdays following second.

No matter which airline booking site you choose to schedule your travel plans, try to find one or two airlines that you prefer and stick with them for future flights to build up frequent flier points. With each flight, you’ll receive points to redeem for future trips. You may also get additional loyal customer rewards, including first-class upgrades and perks like free drink tickets. Who doesn’t love a nice glass of red wine to sooth flight anxiety?

Master the Airport

Frequent travelers are willing to pay the premiums for programs like Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check. They’re easy to register for and will get you through security checkpoints in less time and with fewer hassles. Sometimes the smallest things, like keeping your shoes on, can make a trip more enjoyable.

Organizing your personal carry-on bag is another way to expedite the boarding process. Hurley suggests designating a pocket or section of your carry-on bag for your driver’s license, printed ticket or phone (with airline app installed and a screenshot of your boarding pass), and passport, if necessary.

She suggests finding an easily accessible pocket to store charging cables. It’s important as a business traveler to stay connected and keep electronic items charged and ready. Many airlines have charging stations in the seating area so you can charge while you wait. Items such as a 3-Outlet Adapter (which turns one outlet into three) are useful to have on hand in case a crowded terminal doesn’t have an open outlet.

The other items Hurley suggests to always have on hand are snacks. Flights aren’t always at convenient times and it helps to have a packet of almonds or other snacks ready to keep you going until you can sit down for a meal. And contrary to popular belief, they’ll pass through security just fine. Just no liquids!

Lastly, between the circulated plane air, lots of passengers in close quarters, and not a lot of time to wash up after each flight, germs can be an issue. When packing their carry-on bags, many frequent travelers pack disposable hand wipes and/or a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel in case their seat neighbor won’t stop sniffling.

Incorporate these few hacks and you’ll be on your way to jet-setting like a savvy business traveler and making for a more enjoyable, affordable, and stress-free trip.

Bonus tip: Skip those spammy hotel booking sites like Expedia and Priceline and book directly with the hotel instead. When you visit roomkey.com, you can browse more than 45,000 hotels around the world and when you’re ready to book, we’ll take you to the hotel’s website to secure your room, your rate, and loyalty points too (because savvy business travelers also take advantage of hotel loyalty programs as well!)