Do you travel more than 25 days out of the year? Or perhaps more than 100?
Although it's painful to admit, I maintain elite status on three different airlines (and million-mile status on one), since I often travel as an entrepreneur, author and speaker.
From that vantage point, I offer up these eight ideas for any entrepreneurial road warrior to rely upon to make his or her travel as painless as possible:
1. Use a packing list.
I have traveled steadily for 25 years and still forget to pack important items like my razor, toothbrush or belt. Many hotels can help out in a pinch, but it's better to avoid that stress altogether.
A packing list ensures that you will walk out the door with everything needed. Find a list app online, customize it and avoid becoming the unwitting owner of 26 strikingly similar black leather belts.
2. Make travel time productive time.
Travel creates massive pockets of downtime, what with airport lines, taxi queues and flight delays. I use those minutes productively by deciding in advance what to do -- usually it's reading. I devour reports, white papers, magazines, books and blogs. If someone could earn a graduate degree simply by learning inside an airport, I would have racked up summa cum laude honors by now.
3. Join an airline club.
Costing hundreds of dollars a year, airline clubs certainly aren't cheap. But a membership in one airline club costs less than a fully tricked-out iPad and it's a price I gladly pay. Airline clubs provide a respite from screaming kids, the scarce pickings for seating and power outlets and the incessant blaring of announcements. These airport lounges provide shelter from the storm. I feel my blood pressure decrease the moment I walk through their blessed doors.
4. Invest in practical comforts.
I absolutely love my Bose in-ear, noise-canceling headphones. They were expensive but well worth the price. I simply do not leave home without them. I also carry a light sweatshirt in the outside pocket of my carry-on to use for lumbar support or added warmth on a chilly plane.
And every entrepreneurial road warrior with any street cred absolutely needs a four-wheeled carry-on roller bag because seriously who wants to hand over his or her luggage to the airlines?
5. Avoid short-hop flights.
I live by a three-hour rule: If I can travel from one destination to the next in three hours or less by car, I do so.
Counting the minutes it takes to return a rental car, wade through security, wait for a flight, then endure a flight delay, fly, land, disembark, pick up a rental car and then motor over to a hotel, driving usually gets a businessperson there faster on shorter trips. Plus it scores points for providing a big block of time to return phone calls.
6. Use Uber.
The name means outstanding so Uber is aptly named. I will never again ride in a taxi if I can avoid it. In my humble opinion, Uber is the greatest thing that has happened to business travelers since the cellphone.
7. Be picky about a hotel room.
If you prefer a particular room, location or bed size in a hotel, tell the person at the front desk. You will not offend this person, I promise. When I walk into a hotel room for the first time, I look around and make an immediate judgment. If it seems that something in the room will negatively affect the way I sleep, I take immediate action. Be polite, but don't shy away from requesting what you want or need when traveling. That’s what you pay for.
8. Pay for an earlier flight home.
You finished an all-week trip and could catch an earlier flight home on Friday, bringing you home three and a half hours earlier than planned. The flight-change fee is $250. Would you do it?
For me, this is a complete no-brainer. I even grant myself permission to not feel guilty about the cost. Just be sure to enjoy those extra three and a half hours to the fullest. For me, arriving home is all it takes.