For years, I traveled internationally for work. Do you travel for work?
I would definitely be lying if I said that there wasn’t something glamorous about an international lifestyle.
Traveling the globe, spending time in various major cities around the world, staying in five star hotels, visiting some of the finest restaurants in the world.
People are immediately jealous when they hear you travel for work.
And they are not persuaded when I try to tell them that it is actually a job, and very often it feels like work.
In between the hotels and restaurants, there is a lot of travel.
Crossing of time zones, waiting for luggage, being delayed, being rerouted, every once in a while diverted.
Meetings, offices, clients, getting lost, long train rides, hunger, fatigue, being away from home, never being on a schedule, constant jet lag.
Airports, security, lines, airplane food, boredom, frustration, and the list goes on.
At the end of the day, it’s a job.
Employers definitely want to get their money’s worth, and like it or not, they do.
The Reality of Travel for Work
I love to travel.
In many ways I was attracted to the job because of the significant travel prospects.
Don’t get me wrong, I mostly loved to travel for work.
I got to travel all over the world, and I got to travel first or business class and as I mentioned, I was able to stay in some very nice places.
The perks are what make it worthwhile.
If you are traveling every week or two on long haul flights, you need the space and perks of first class.
You need lounges, free food, airport showers, cars to pick you up etc.
It can be similar to traveling like a celebrity.
But a really busy celebrity, who has no time to themselves, and not much time in each destination.
Some people like to work with travel agents, but I always liked to do my own travel planning for my business trips.
Travel for work becomes a way of life and after a while you get used to what it feels like to be tired all the time.
You get used to not to seeing your family, and to spend a lot of time on your own in between meetings.
And you begin to learn how to travel in order to minimize all the inconveniences that your traveling life has bestowed upon you.
Now you do accrue a lot of frequent flyer miles and hotel points.
Rental car company start to love you and you begin to get to know the staff at certain airports quite well, not to mention flight attendants.
All in all, if you are a fan of travel, and you love planes as much as I do, then it is not a bad life.
But it will take its toll on you, so knowing when to throw in the towel and go do something else is crucial.
Here are 11 mistakes you must avoid when you travel for work.
1. Missing out on hotel loyalty programs
It’s a good idea to stay at the same hotel in the same cities if you can,
Not only for the loyalty points but you always get better treatment when people who work there get to know you.
You are more likely to get upgrades, and special treatment.
For hotels my favorite program is the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program.
Which I have found to be very generous, easy to use and the redemption of points etc is also very easy and good value.
I also like Hotels.com as a booking platform.
They too have a good loyalty program, with a free night for every ten nights stayed.
2. Not considering the location of your hotel
When I travel for business, there are a lot of different factors I take into consideration depending on what my trip is about.
I like to be conveniently located preferably within walking distance of where I’ll be having my meetings.
Or close to a central station if I need to move around a lot.
Business districts tend to be dead at night.
So if I’m entertaining clients then I’ll more likely stay in an area where there are restaurants and bars.
It’s also good to get to know the neighborhoods you are staying in.
As that can give you a little bit of comfort being in a familiar place.
3. Flying with multiple frequent flyer programs
You kind of get stuck once you reach the high loyalty tiers.
As the benefits that come with it are hard to pass up.
The airlines know that you are one of their very high value customers.
They don’t want to lose you to anyone else.
I got used to this extra special treatment of being met at the plane, having my own check in area, and never having to wait for anything.
Not to mention the fact that everyone was always ultra accomodating to me all the time.
When you spend full time traveling It’s hard not to get used to that kind of treatment.
I loved having my own customer service that never made me wait.
And always sorted out my problems in the best way possible.
Read up on frequent flyer programs and try and use the one that is most convenient to you.
But also to one that allows you to make use of your benefits and miles.
Packing and Luggage
4. Taking a lot of luggage
When getting for a work trip you learn how to pack efficiently.
I used to do two and three week around the world trips with nothing but carry-on bags.
If I didn’t want to spend hours at the baggage carousel of every airport I needed to keep my bags with me.
Not to mention not being able to afford my bags going missing.
5. Buying cheap luggage
When it comes to buying luggage, obviously go for something sturdy.
Because even the best will be challenged to stand up to the rigors of constant international travel.
I like Tumi although they are a bit pricey.
Make sure you are not buying luggage with brand names made especially for discount stores.
They are not very tough at all.
6. Not investing in Global Entry
Make sure you invest in Global Entry in the US for the quickest experience through security.
Not only will it save you precious time, it will save you a lot of hassle.
7. Not establishing a routine
I developed a routine for when I get to the security screening.
And it makes things go a lot quicker.
I take everything out of my pockets putting liquids in bags and getting my computer out, and shoes off if necessary, belt too.
Do the same thing everytime and you will be through in a breeze.
Just don’t forget a water bottle in your bag!
Company Travel Policy
8. Not being familiar with your company travel policy
Make sure you are familiar with your company’s travel policy so you don’t get any nasty surprises.
More and more companies bill the company credit card directly to you and only reimburse you after the fact.
No need for unintended expenses.
9. Using multiple and unlinked reward programs
One of the best perks of the job are the travel rewards if your company allows you to keep them.
Not all companies do.
Try and stick with the same airline alliance, hotel group, and car rental company.
As this will help maximize the miles and points that you can earn.
Make sure you use all your perks or at least give them away to someone.
The downside to traveling for work is that you don’t usually want to do more traveling when you have some time off.
But miles can allow you to bring a loved one along on business trips once in a while, get a bigger hotel room.
Preparing for the Worst
10. Don’t sit back and wait
I developed a knack over the time I was traveling to read the situation at the gate very well.
When there are delays you begin to learn how to lip read to gate agents.
And watch the crew’s every move in and out of the plane.
Always know that everything can be canceled at a moment’s notice.
Fuming or yelling at the airport staff gets you nowhere, in fact can slow you down.
No point in having a big drama.
Just much better to have a loose plan in your head of what you would do if your flight was not to go.
11. Not knowing the contact details for your reservations
Keep the numbers of your preferred hotel group along with airline reservations in your phone.
These are crucial in the case that you need to make changes.
If I get a sense that something is up or if I have a sudden cancelation, the first thing I do is to call the reservation line.
This way I’m first in line so they can help me rebook or get a hotel.