Between increased security and reduced airline services, there isn’t much thrill left in business travel. But you can reduce the agony if you plan appropriately.
BEFORE YOU GO
1. Pack for today’s overhead-bin reality
Since airlines started charging for checked baggage, travelers have resorted to extreme measures to ensure their bags make it on the plane. If your flight is full and you aren’t among the first on the plane, you will have to gate check that bag. A better strategy is to take two more equal-sized bags. One should be the maximum size that will fit under the seat and the other should be flexible so it can fit into any odd space available between roller bags in the overhead bin.
2. Select the right clothes (for men)
Pack only one color of pants and one (matching) jacket. This way you can optimize the accessories you need to take. Also, if you want to exercise, take some of the new lightweight sneakers that take up zero room in your luggage. Wear the heaviest things you are taking (if weather permits) to minimize the amount of stuff you need to drag around with you.
3. Store items in a designated location
Organize your luggage and especially your computer bag/carry-on so that items have a designated place. This makes it easy to locate gear like cables and connectors, which are prone to get lost.
4. Take appropriate electrical plug adapters
Anyone who has felt the panic of realizing they brought the wrong plug convertor just as their computer battery dies, won’t make this mistake twice.
5. Arrange for voice and Internet access before you go
Depending on where you travel, Internet access can be great or it can be pathetic. And having to pay $30 a day for an Internet connection in a $300-a-night hotel is not unusual. So buying an international data plan for your mobile device may be cheaper than paying daily local rates.
6. Recharge gadgets using USB ports
Almost all devices have some sort of USB connection cable through which they can be recharged. Rather than drag along a spaghetti of cables.
AT THE AIRPORT
7. Pick the “right” security line
Two things to check are the efficiency of the personnel manning the line and the mix of travelers ahead of you. Several things to watch out for include families with small children, unconventional luggage which will likely be inspected, and anyone who looks like they haven’t been in an airport security line in the last 10 years. Picking right can save you literally hours if you travel often
8. Create an on-boarding routine
This is particularly important for long-distance flights. For example, organize all your reading material in a separate bag (within your carry-on) before you get on the plane. When you reach your seat, take the bag out and put the carry-on away.
ON THE TRIP
9. Develop a routine for sleep and eating
Eat before you get on the plane to maximize the amount of time you can sleep, particularly for red-eye flights. Transcontinental and transatlantic flights are often too short for a full night’s sleep.
10. Eat and sleep right
I find that eating properly and getting at least a minimum amount of sleep makes travel much more bearable. Staying away from alcohol and heavy foods on trips, especially on airplanes, also helps. I wonder how my seatmate in 37F made it through the day after finishing two bottles of red wine before 8 a.m.