Whether it's making the most of your time, getting the biggest bang for your buck—or a combination of the two—efficiency is the name of the game. Try these road-tested tips to help make your travels smoother, especially during downtime.
1. USING IN-TRANSIT TIME WISELY
Take advantage of the time you spend on the plane—or languishing on layover—to get some work done. Sure, these extended blocks of time could be used for a catnap or for watching an in-flight movie, but they’re much more valuable as your Zen time—perfect for clearheaded productivity. If you arrive at the hotel early and your room isn't ready yet, don't bother getting bothered—as the housekeeping staff is hurriedly preparing your room, use that time to finish a report or respond to the emails you've been neglecting. Your luggage will be safe behind the front desk while you kick back in the lobby or by the pool and get some real work done.
2. STAY PACKED AND CARRY ON
It's a saying that frequent business travelers swear by: never unpack. It only means you'll have to waste time packing for your next trip. Have a bag always at the ready. Use travel-dedicated toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash, so you can keep your home supplies separate. The only time you should unpack is to wash or iron your clothes or get them dry-cleaned. Don't stress about having to stuff that suitcase the night before or the morning of a trip. You can save even more time—and money—by limiting your luggage to carry-on size; checking even just one bag takes time and costs money on most airlines these days. And if you’re worried about finding room in the overhead bins on the plane, relax—the steward will help you to find a spot; and if they can’t, they’ll check your bag for free.
3. GET REWARDED
Take advantage of racking up those airline miles, hotel points and rental car miles. If you repeatedly do business with a certain company, you’ll likely be rewarded with discounts, perks and freebies. Take advantage of racking up those airline miles, hotel points and rental car miles. If you repeatedly do business with a certain company, you’ll likely be rewarded with discounts, perks and freebies. Take the time to learn about rewards programs for any services you use regularly. For example, if you travel with Choice Hotels, learn about our Choice Privileges Rewards program—earn points, and then redeem points for hotel nights, gift cards, airline miles, magazine subscriptions and music downloads through our rewards partners.
4. MIX BUSINESS AND PLEASURE
Don't become deadened by your workload on the road. Schedule some time for exploring a new city, or strategically combine business and pleasure. If you’re meeting with clients, you can suggest that you discuss business while enjoying a round of golf, touring an interesting museum, or getting a coveted table at one of the hottest restaurants in town. The best networking is done at social events, where work isn't the primary focus. Strike that balance between the two, and you’ll head home with new connections, promising leads and stories to share about all the fun you had on your business trip.
5. FIND BETTER FARES
Let upper management know that you saved the company some money by searching for and finding the best deals on flights, rather than maxing out your expense account. Remember to always clear your cache after searching for flights through online booking sites, and browse privately. The popular catchall travel sites retain your previous searches, and they use that information to either hike up the fares you’re looking for the next time you visit, or they keep them at the same price as the last time you booked a flight.