Traveling for business can be a little unnerving for entrepreneurs at all levels. Most of us get so busy keeping shop that we forget to make the transition from personal traveler to professional traveler—and the result is wasted hours, money, and time. Below are a few tips on how to start traveling like a pro. Remember, as a business owner your time is MONEY!
Sign up for frequent flyer programs
You definitely want to enroll in a frequent flyer program if you travel to a particular city often, and there’s a loyalty program that offers a direct flight there from your hometown.
But I also suggest that before you plan your next trip, sign up for ALL the mileage points/loyalty programs you could ever use. Why? For starters, you never want to do this on-site at the airport, since it’s just not a good use of time. But also, if you’re using online sites like Expedia and Travelocity, it’s likely you’ll be traveling with two different airlines. If you don’t have the time to get this done, have a virtual assistant take care of this for you, or recruit your kids to help in exchange for their weekly allowance.
Batch your meetings
Let’s say you’re traveling cross-country to attend a conference next month. Instead of spending your time planning a happy hour with an old college friend, try to set up meetings with clients or media interviews while you’re in that city. You’re already traveling in work-mode, and have likely packed business professional clothing, so why not maximize your time?
You could post something on Facebook or Twitter making an open call to anyone who’d like to meet with you for a consultation, or write about it in your weekly ezine. When a potential client knows you are only in town for a limited time, it gives them a deadline to take action and get the ball rolling. Of course, when all your work is done, definitely go out and have that margarita with your gal pal 😉 !
Pack like a pro
Ask any avid traveler and they’ll confirm that packing truly is an art form. Add a woman’s professional wardrobe into the mix, and things get even more challenging. One way to streamline your packing is to pick one color combination for your entire trip. So, if you really want to show off your new black pumps, stick to clothing choices that complement black (instead of introducing an entirely new color palette, like pastels into the mix).
A few items every business traveler should ALWAYS have in her suitcase are an extra cell phone charger, a 6-foot long extension cord, and a set of travel-sized toiletries, like facial cleansers, moisturizers, night creams, etc. If you are traveling for work, there’s really no good reason to waste your time running around an unfamiliar city trying to get these essentials. Keep an EXTRA set of all of them in your suitcase, even when you’re back from traveling and your suitcase is tucked away in your storage closet.
At Ali International, we use a great travel management site called TripIt, which acts like a paperless travel assistant. You can buy your airline ticket the way you usually do, and when you get the email confirmation, just forward it to your designated TripIt email account. TripIt will aggregate all your travel information—your flight, car service, hotel information, meetings, etc.—into one centralized itinerary that you can access online and via your smartphone.
TripIt even has a feature that will text you updates in the event that your flight gets delayed or anything changes. There is a free version and a pro version available—and both are great!© Copyright 2011 Ali Brown