The Business Travelers Guide
Regardless of the reason, it has come to your attention that a business trip is in your future. Perhaps you are traveling as a representative of a large corporation or you are a business owner that wishes to expand your territory. In either case, travel preparation, packing, transportation and business meetings are in the offing.
Business Travel Gadgets recommends that during the trip your focus should be on your business objectives. The details of the actual travel should be planned well in advance and not distract from successfully meeting your business goals. Travel preparation, proper business travel planning and effective travel follow-up are exactly why Business Travel Gadgets was created.
We welcome you to review and/or download the many travel tools that we provide. Spend some time reading the articles that pertain to the challenges you may face when getting ready, getting there and getting things done during your business trip. Before you know it, your next trip will be planned and reservations will be confirmed, allowing you plenty of time to relax and get back to business.
How should I get there? Fly or Drive?
One of the first decisions you may need to make is whether you will drive or fly to your destination. In many cases this decision will be obvious, but if your destination is, let’s say, between 300 and 500 miles from your home office, this decision will require a bit of research.
Let’s begin our research by reviewing some factors that may impact your decision. Here is a list of items to consider when selecting your mode of transportation:
Price – The cost of airline tickets will be a huge factor in your decision. So expect that when your travel distance starts to reach or exceed the standard 500-mile mark, flying will begin to make financial sense. As a quick example, if we were driving 500 miles one way, gas (priced at $3/g) would cost about $ 125, where a plane ticket would cost anywhere from $150 – $250. Of course this does not factor wear and tear on the vehicle or the cost of a taxi, but the point still remains, generally the 500 mile mark is the decision making standard between driving and flying.
Time – Obviously, your schedule may dictate which mode of transportation you ultimately choose. When flying you are restricted to airline schedules and driving will certainly take longer. So as you develop a travel itinerary be sure to include travel time and determine how much time you are willing to commit to transportation.
Packing – Let’s face it, airlines are strict and these limitation may impact your ability to take everything you need. Of course there are options, such as shipping larger items directly to your destination, but this adds cost. And you stand the risk of the item getting lost or not arriving in time. If you need to transport larger items, driving may be the better option. You may also want to consider driving, if you are transporting excessive baggage or if the items you are transporting are expensive or sensitive to travel.
Half and Half – A not-so-popular option might be to fly one way and drive the other. This may be a consideration if time is a factor in either direction, or perhaps you would prefer to take a leisurely drive home and see some sights. In some cases, I have heard from business travelers that want to stop off and visit family on the tail end of a business trip.
Again, regardless of your reasoning, do not feel that you are restricted to either driving or flying in both directions. This is a customer service driven world and you should be able to make the best decision for your personal needs.
Try a Travel Calculator
A handy tool for determining whether to drive or fly is the “Fly or Drive” Calculator. This online tool will help considerably with determining the most cost effective of the two options, driving or flying. We have provided a link to the best calculator we’ve found located on BeFrugal.com. The good people at BeFrugal.com have a true Business Travel Gadget with this tool and we just love that.
Lastly, on the topic of “How do I get there?”, I would be remiss if I did not mention that driving and flying are not your only options. Buses and trains are perfectly suitable choices in some cases. Business Travel Gadgets will review some of the benefits and drawbacks of selecting a bus or train for your business travel in later posts.
Preparing for the Trip – One Month Out
Some travel preparation items are best taken care of, well in advance. Any travel agenda item that is highly popular will require some advanced planning, if you are expecting to stay in a resort area for example, you will want to plan accordingly. I have know popular ski resorts that are fully booked well before the ski season opens. Popular restaurants, shows and meeting rooms can fill up very quickly and will require advanced reservations.
Check out this travel tip from “Travel and Leisure”:
a year’s worth of searches and found that six months before departure, domestic ticket prices were about 20 percent higher than the lowest fares. They started dropping three months out and hit a low three to seven weeks before departure. Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last week, when prices shoot up—by about 25 percent, according to Kayak.
Obviously we may not have the luxury of a seven week window, but when possible, do your best to purchase travel tickets well in advance. Other popular business travel websites indicate that any form of transportation is cheaper when purchased in advance, including buses and trains.
Start preparing your Packing List early as well, 20 to 30 ahead of your scheduled departure date. For help preparing you Packing List, visit our Business Travel Packing Page. There may be items on your list that need to be purchased or ordered online, this could take up to 10 for shipping.
Make sure you have the pets taken care of well in advance as well. Pet Care Services are often difficult to find with short notice.
Here are a few more items that should be scheduled early:
- Cancel or re-schedule business meetings
- Also remember to schedule rooms for meetings during the trip.
- Arrange to have your bills in advance of the trip.
- Get you prescriptions filled, if necessary
- Have your vehicle in for maintenance, if you plan to drive.
- Check your luggage: Is it in good condition?
A few days out, make sure you prepare the following:
- Suspend newspaper delivery
- Suspend mail delivery
- Have all of your travel documents ready
- Make certain all reservations are confirmed
- Keep up with yard work and household chores
- Prepare for trash pick up, if necessary
- Empty refrigerator of older items
- Set up you “Out of Office” messages
- Give your plants a shot of water
- Set your heating or AC accordingly
Should You Obtain Travel Insurance?
It seems like in today’s world, we are always being offered an extended warranty or insurance of some kind. And as we all know, obtaining insurance for any reason can be a complicated decision. This is certainly the case for Travel insurance, in particular, because it is not a very common form of insurance. In fact, I would be pleasantly surprised if more than half of my readers had even heard of travel insurance and we are the “well-traveled” ones.
Business Travel Gadgets strongly recommends that you consider obtaining Travel Insurance and we recommend that you use Travel Insurance.com to compare prices and policies. In my experience the cost of travel insurance will range from less than 5% of the total cost of your trip to just under 10%, depending on the coverages you choose. The alternative is to take the risk of losing much more when any of the potential problems occur during your trip.
A few of the coverages you will find with travel insurance include:
- Trip Cancellations – Prepaid expenses that are non-refundable due to unexpected cancellations
- Trip Interruptions – Prepaid expenses that are non-refundable due to an unexpected interruption
- Travel Delays – Covers expenses for unexpected delays such as hotel stay
- Baggage Delays – Covers needed items if your luggage is lost or delayed
- Theft – Covers items that are stolen during your trip
- Medical Emergencies – Depending on the coverage this could include emergency transport and treatment
- Life Insurance, Accidental death and Accidental dismemberment are other options
As mentioned this is by no means a comprehensive list. BTG does recommend that travel insurance should be part of your travel preparations.
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What about Points, Rewards Programs and Frequent Flier Miles?
Reward programs should ALWAYS be part of your travel preparations. Virtually every facet of travel will offer some sort of rewards program, from rental car companies to credit cards, hotels, airlines and even gas stations.
Spend some time and make sure you are signed up and receiving additional benefits for your travel dollar. It is possible to sign up and receive upgrades or benefits immediately when utilizing a rewards program. Never hesitate to ask if a rewards program exists and do not forget to remind companies that you are a rewards program member.
Review your Corporate Travel Policy
If you are traveling for corporate business, it is always wise to review any corporate travel policies. Being informed of your companies expections will help to avoid unintentional conflict during your trip and upon your return.
Most compnaies that require employees to travel, will have polices that cover items such as:
- Travel expenses and reimbursements
- Submitting travel intineraries and hotel phone numbers
- Emergency contact information
- Expectaions for follow-up and reporting
- Insurance coveerage provided by the comapny
Check the Local News for your Desination
Staying informed reagrding the local events occuring at your destination can prove immensely valuable. Sporting events, Conventions or Politcal Events can impact an entire city. I spoke to one business traveler who arrived in Baltimore only to find out the the entire city was shut down for an auto race.
Of course while you are checking the local news, it is nevere a bad idea to check the expected weather. We have recommended this several times and will likely mention it again. Prepare for the weather.
Consider a hot spot or portable WiFi device
There are a few things that will put a major crimp in your business trip, a dead cellphone and no internet are two of them. Do not assume that the business you are visiting will have guest internet access. Although it may be rare, many companies have private networks and policies that do not allow visitor to connect.
Brining along ready internet in the form of a hotspot or a cellphone with hot spot capability will prevent you from being cut off from the outside world (electronically speaking). BTG has several recommendations for hot spots in our gadget pages.