How to make business travel manageable

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Last year I traveled almost every week. Some weeks I traveled to three different cities.

If you are excited about business travel, thinking it's a free ticket to see the world, you should stop reading now. But if you are having trouble maintaining your personal life in the face of tons of travel, these tips from a cynical traveler will make life easier for you.

1. Stick with your priorities. When people travel to another city, why do they throw out their to do list for sightseeing in random museums? If you have on your top three things you want in life: go to the gym, stay in touch with friends, read a book a week, then sightseeing is not on the list. You don't need to do it when you travel. You need to stick to your priorities. If sightseeing is on your priority list, then get a new job, because you have no control over where you sightsee if you have a job with a lot of travel.

2. Eat really well. First of all, you're not paying for your own food, so you should eat really good, healthy food, which is always more expensive than junk food. Second, if you have a rule for yourself that you always eat well when you travel, then you will actually be healthier from traveling. Most people eat crap when they travel because they are tired and they feel like the calories don't count because they are across state lines. That attitude will make you burn out faster. I can't find a link but I'm sure there's a study to support the hypothesis that you deal with the stress of travel more effectively without McDonald's.

3. Think of balance in terms of weeks, not days. I know I want to spend time with the Farmer, spend time with the kids, be around for dinner invitations, and tooth-fairy moments. I used to worry about this every day. If I didn't have breakfast with the kids, then I had to have dinner. Now I think in terms of weeks. If I was gone all week, I take off a day from work to have extra time for my personal life. If you are good at your job, and you travel a lot, no one counts how many days you take off.

4. Get elite status. Somewhere. Anywhere. When everyone is staying overnight at O'Hare, the people who are platinum are getting rebooked first. When you are waiting on the tarmac for an hour at LaGuardia because air traffic control cannot remember how many planes are in the air (which, really, is like, every day) if you get upgraded to first class, you're drinking free wine and eating firm grapes while you are a prisoner of the airport. To get elite status, it means that every time your company wants to save $50 to put you on another airline, you have to say no. If my company will save more than $300, I'll travel on an airline that I am not platinum on. Make sure your company knows you're doing them a favor.

5. Do not agree to stupid meetings for geographical reasons. Just because someone you never want to hang out with lives in Saskatchewan and you're gonna be there doesn't mean that all of a sudden you should hang out with him. You have a life. And you surely have stuff you can do that evening besides hang out with a loser. Or maybe he's only a half-loser. The thing is, you don't have time for half-losers at home. They are the same everywhere: Still just a distraction from the real work of living the life you want.

The bottom line is that you need to respect your life. Your life cannot be on hold while you travel. The travel, if it's really frequent, sort of is your life. So the values you have—be spiritual, be frugal, be healthy—have to prevail during your travel. This is not vacation travel. This is not a vacation from your life. Business travel IS your life.

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  1. Happy Guy
    Happy Guy says:

    Um, everything I’ve heard is that you kinda suck at travel. Like, missing flights because you forget the time, getting in fights with police officers about allegedly stolen purses etc. You think maybe some of us are better at doing sightseeing than you? And that maybe by making “being on time” an A priority it allows us to get to our B and C priorities?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thank you for remembering some of my worst travel moments — I feel certain that you are a loyal twitter reader, if nothing else :)

      Being a bad traveler makes me much more cognizant of tricks to make travel easier. I think other people would not concentrate so hard on how to keep life regular while traveling.

      So, for instance, the world is lucky that I have missed a zillion planes because I even know tips for getting sleep if you’re stuck at O’Hare. (Opt for the complimentary cot instead of a hotel room. You’ll get a little extra sleeping time and you’ll be able to sleep well enough on the cot.)


      • Umkhonto Labour
        Umkhonto Labour says:

        You definitely have established your authority status here, Penelope! I am new to your blog and am thoroughly enjoying your work and writing style. Keep it up, I’m looking forward to lots more!

  2. melanie gao
    melanie gao says:

    For me another rule is to stay in close touch with my family while I’m gone. When I’m on business in California everyone knows that I walk out of meetings every day at 4pm so I can talk to my kids at their 7am, before they leave for school. I guard that timeslot jealously, for their sake and for mine.

  3. Happy Guy
    Happy Guy says:

    Life — completely and totally, no exceptions — is about experiences. So I do sightseeing when I travel because five years from now I will remember the sights more than the meeting I went to.

    I’ve been to the Bay Area dozens of times for business, but I remember and cherish being at Polyester’s at 3 am on a Thursday night above all those boring VCs.

    Speaking of which, I need to schedule another trip to Vegas…

  4. calisara
    calisara says:

    Well said! And thank you. Traveling for work is not a vacation and it’s my family and friends who need this reminder. All the oooh’s and aahhh’s of traveling to LA monthly, mean nothing, when all I see are indoors of ballrooms, room service and cheesy hotel bartenders. And yes, earning lounge passes save more than my expenses on airport dinners and internet fees. It pays to be loyal and earn status. I’ve spent over 2 years of my life in hotels, and everyone thinks it’s a luxury and how lucky I am… perhaps compared to those sitting in cubicles it’s exciting, but it’s hardly luxurious (aside from the hotel bed thread count), but I digress. Spending little time with friends, and eating take-out (even if healthy) nothing compares to cozying up at home. And on this tangent… I can find the most important lesson I learned early on when having to spend 4 weeks on the road at a time, back-to-back never at home… was that I had to become incredibly independent and fearless. Fearless because watching a movie by myself prior to my time on the road, or to most people, seems so frightening, odd, and lonely. For me, it’s an exciting time out, it still is even when I’m at home. Or my love of reading, and getting lost in books. It’s what I refer to as relaxation. I don’t need much in life, when I can enjoy what’s around me. And oddly, it took me traveling out of my regular space to learn. Invaluable!

  5. Marsha Keeffer
    Marsha Keeffer says:

    Not fond of travel for work – back from a February buying trip in NYC, my ENT specialist told me I had to get my tonsils yanked. My trip to Chicago resulted in two days stuck in the Denver airport due to stormy weather. Got food poisoning on another. 1, 2, 4, and 5 will now be my focus.

    Could have been easier if I’d had your tips – thanks, P.

  6. Ideas With A Kick
    Ideas With A Kick says:

    First time I actually read a post about business travel management. I read time management, life management, but this puts the finger on the wound. Or at least my wound. Business traveling is often exhausting and disorganizing for me. Thanks Penelope :)


  7. BlondHeretic
    BlondHeretic says:

    To your first point, if your priority is sightseeing, then having a job with lots of travel is a good way to accomplish the goal. While during your work week, you might be in Camden NJ or some other place without spectacular sights, if you are dutifully collecting your points and being loyal to a few airlines and hotel chains while booking, then on your vacation, you will have free flights and accommodations for places you actually want to see. This, of course, assumes that being at home isn’t really a priority for you.

  8. Jake
    Jake says:

    For all of the people that can sightsee on business travel; where do you work?

    I can three trips in the last decade in which I had the time and energy to sightsee during the trip. All of the other ones were sprints to the end.

    I would add to #2: Pack some healthy snacks. During the day you might not have the time or the access to healthy food.

    • Rachel
      Rachel says:

      What health snacks do ou pack? I like to bring nuts and dried fruit, but I am always looking for suitcase-friendly non-sugar snacks. Ideas?

  9. Sean C.
    Sean C. says:

    I practice Aikido. There is a dojo in every major city in the world. Whenever I travel I bring my gi and squeeze in a practice.

    I meet new people with whom I have something in common, get some exercise, some local knowledge about the city, it’s all good.

    There was one trip in particular where I was sent to take abuse from a customer for a few days. The customer would scream at me all day while I tried to fix the product, and then I’d go to the dojo get a good practice and put all that garbage out of my head. Show up fresh and relaxed the next morning.

    So whatever your hobby or activity, if there is a group in your destination they’ll probably be happy to see you.

    • It's Lou Again
      It's Lou Again says:

      I LEARNED Aikido while on business travel. I was on extended assignment in northern Jersey. I looked up the closest Aikido dojo and trained for a year with sensei O’Connor. I had always had a vague interest in Aikido, and I was able to fulfill my desire to learn it while away.

  10. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    Just came off 14 months of solid business travel out of state. Managed to find time to soak up a little of the local culture and make some friends. Stuck to hotels with pools – my favorite place to work out. Wish I’d had your tip about sticking to one airline. I’ve got lots of points on 3 airlines now and little chance of using them. Had to set boundaries with my employer. No Sunday travel and going home on Thursday rather than Friday when there was less than 2 hours work scheduled on Fri. Saturday and Sunday were devoted to family and church. Friends missed me but they had to take a step down in priority. Substituted text messages and occasional phone calls for face time.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Great point about pushing back. Because so often the person setting the travel budgets and schedules has never had a travel-every-week schedule herself.

      So pushing back on Sunday travel, is important. But also hotels. The difference a good hotel makes is huge. So I have pushed back a lot when it came to saving $100 to stay in a crap hotel.

      (Sometimes it’s hard to be a hotel primadonna (even for me :) so I found that it’s more palatable to management if you focus on the gym. Demand a good gym and you’ll get a good hotel. )


  11. Heather
    Heather says:

    Oh and if anyone needs tips and tricks for traveling all over the country with a broken leg and broken foot (total time in cast =5 months), I can hook you up! Best airlines to make sure you are comfortable: Southwest amazingly enough. Worst airlines: United.

    I would also like to find out how people can fit in sightseeing while traveling for business–I feel like I work longer hours (typically 14-hour days) when traveling, because when I’m done at the client site, I’ve got to do the rest of my job. Socializing with clients becomes a real chore, and now my 7-year-old has figured out how to snag daddy’s cell phone and text me to “come home now.” I hate traveling for business–I can’t imagine how I ever arrived here. And to those who comment on friends and family not understanding–you hit the nail on the head. They seem to believe I’m out having the time of my life, with no “real” responsibilities while I’m gone.

    Penelope–this is why your post about remembering your favorite childhood moment struck home with me–I’m not where I should be, but disentanglement is lengthy and tricky.

    Thanks for the tips!

    • A
      A says:

      ‘I would also like to find out how people can fit in sightseeing while traveling for business – €“I feel like I work longer hours (typically 14-hour days) when traveling, because when I’m done at the client site, I’ve got to do the rest of my job.’

      I don’t know what your situation is, but I say push back. I accepted an agreement for 35 working hours a week. Anything beyond that, I do voluntarily for reasons of professional development. Scheduling is important, know where to draw the line.

      Being from a small town, I also find it helpful to think of the strangers you run into every day as your neighbors. I like to be prepared to lend a hand wherever I go. Even if it isn’t necessarily reciprocated, it helps me feel like I’m at home wherever I go.

      Snacks are required. Get a diversity of stuff, and never travel without a good piece of dark chocolate! It’s a good pick-me-up if you need it, and even if you don’t like it, it’s fun to give to strangers who are maybe not so good at maintaining a positive attitude in the face of normal travel delays.

      Nice article!

  12. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    This is a great post because it is written from the perspective of someone who has actually BEEN there, not someone who sits in an office all day. Sure, eating healthy is a good tip (you should eat healthy all the time, not just when you travel)- but putting your foot down and demanding airline loyalty so you can rack up the points for Elite status, is logical, dead-on advice that is not at the top of most top 10 business travel lists.

  13. dale
    dale says:

    your forgot the obvious. Check the damn bag. There is nothing worse than hauling a bunch of crap around with you in the airport. Take a couple of personal items etc. in a carry on and check the rest. If they lose the bad, buy something new at the far end and expense. Makes getting on and off the plane easier too.

    • Mike
      Mike says:

      My philosophy is just the opposite. NEVER check a bag. Unless you’re hauling some sort of business equipment, it’s always possible to pack everything you need in a carry on.

      When you check a bag, on a good day it’s an extra hour at least at the airport checking in and waiting for bags. And if you need to be rerouted or fly standby it’s much simpler if you don’t have anything checked.

      • bob
        bob says:

        Not checking a bag has saved me an extra day of travel more than once because of rerouting. I never check a bag. If it’s a long trip, use the laundry services at the hotel.

      • grrr
        grrr says:

        Those people who don’t believe in checking bags, yet pack enough for a 3-week overnight and take up all the overhead space should be banned from flying.

  14. dale
    dale says:

    just thought of another thing. If you do want personal time in a city, add weekend days. In years past, flying from west coast to NY I could save $1000 coming home on Sunday instead of Friday. My company paid for 2 extra nights in the hotel, (cheaper on a weekend than mid-week). I flew my wife out on frequent flyer miles and all we had to do way pay for meals and entertainment. Nice compromise.

  15. Linda in Chicago
    Linda in Chicago says:

    When I first moved into a job that would require business travel I thought it would be fun, too. A few months later the reality sank in. Due to budget constraints I haven’t had a business trip in about a year now. However, even when I was traveling every month it was hard to be true to some of these tips.

    Regarding #2, unless you pack a few healthy snacks, it can be hard to eat good, real food when traveling. Airports are full of craptastic food, and I don’t just mean McD’s. The “healthy” stuff like salads are more readily available now, but I still can’t stomach the dressings that come with them (dry salad is little fun), the tasteless “chicken” on the side, or the unripe, flavorless fruit that’s offered. Hotel and room service are just as bad. (OK, maybe I’m overly picky since I’m used to the high quality stuff I prepare myself or get at select markets at home. Even in my home town I rarely eat lunch out during the work week because the choices are very much like the airport food issues noted above. I actually prefer to bring my lunch, thank you very much.)

    Regarding #4, it’s not *quite* that easy to get elite status unless you’re traveling every week and flying great distances. When you fly 1-2 times a month between places like Chicago and Cleveland or Nashville, you don’t make elite status in a year.

    My “travel survival” tips for people who are stuck in the situation where you’re not on elite status:

    1. ALWAYS make time to buy a big bottle of water (or better yet carry your own refillabe bottle and fill it up) after you get through security. I don’t care how close you’re cutting it to boarding time, you WILL be really uncomfortable if stuck in coach on the tarmac for a long time and unable to get something to drink.

    2. Likewise, try to fit in enough time to do one last bathroom break before you board.

    3. ALWAYS carry healthy snacks. Nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, cheese and crackers (yes, cheese is OK unrefrigerated for quite a while), hard cooked eggs, raw veggies (carrots, broccoli, jicama, etc.) are all great to have on hand in case of delays or just ’cause you’re hitting a low blood sugar threshold. There’s usually a decently healthy in-flight meal box available for a reasonable cost, too. Many of these boxes offer better choices than what you can pick up in the airport. (To me, at least, a can of seasoned tuna and some crackers are better than a poor quality salad).

    3. Pack light in a soft-sided bag. Those roller bags are the first things airline personnel try to confiscate from you and gate check due to a full flight. A bag with a bit of squish is much easier to fit into the overhead bins. If necessary, though, gate-checking can be really great. On regional jets it means you have all the convenience of carry on without having to wrestle it into the bins yourself. And on a larger plane it means that while you do have to go to baggage claim when you reach your destination, you *don’t* have to pay the baggage fee. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out how to *pack* a pair of running/workout shoes in a small bag. So, you either have to wear them (which doesn’t look very professional and is a pain when going through security) or do some sort of exercise that doesn’t involve the shoes (like yoga).

    4. Remain hydrated and nibble on your snacks a lot. For me, at least, having low blood sugar or getting dehydrated (easy to do on a plane) mean that I get more cranky and more likely to make poor decisions.

    5. Be cordial and friendly to airline personnel and fellow travelers, but don’t be a doormat. If you are not a grumpy, demanding asshole, your chances of getting a seat change, getting your bag on the plane, or getting a beverage more quickly are much higher. I don’t easily swap seats or give up my armrest position to fellow passengers. I have done it occasionally, but I’m not a pushover. (Personally, I think women get these sorts of requests more than men do. I don’t care that you want to sit with your husband; I got this aisle seat fair and square, lady.)

    6. Prepare to be discomfited and figure out your threshold ahead of time. No way am I going to hang out at a gate for hours and hours and hours waiting to get on that next flight ’cause mine was cancelled. I would rather stay another night — even a Friday night — than join the zombie brigade practically tearing each other apart or falling over in a corner just to win this game.

    7. Have a non-electronic diversion with you. An old-fashioned book or magazine is good. No batteries will run out and no one will insist you put them away at any point during the flight. I am also a knitter and having a small knitting project with me is a must. I’m much more patient with delays now since it just means more knitting time. :-)

    7. Breathe. Yep, just take a deep breathe when everything seems f*cked up and be kind to yourself.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      What I like about this comment, and other comments above, with more tips, is that it’s a way for people to understand how difficult a job with a lot of travel is.

      This is a snapshot of what happens to your mind: You start obsessing about how to control each part of the trip because the hardest part about flying is the lack of control. So each little increase in control helps.


      • DG
        DG says:

        In over 10 years, 600,000 miles and over 100 cities, I have had a few extra good times. But they involved staying over the weekend.
        I love the work(most of the time) but the travel can be lonely and boring. What sights do you see in Enid OK?
        What i hate is when someone says” At least you get Friday off” UGH. Yes after traveling Sunday, working at least 40 hours by time to take off Thursday and then finally the last part of your second job(actually doing the travel to get home)
        I say YES to loyalty programs. they do ease a little stress and at times save your life!
        I fight to not start dreading the next trip as soon as I get home.

    • Engineer Chic
      Engineer Chic says:

      Re: running shoes that squish down really small … check out Nike Free shoes or Vibram 5-Fingers. Both are relatively unattractive, but are great portable running shoes. Your other suggestions are dead accurate, especially about carrying snacks & non-electronic diversions. I often print plenty of work b/c it’s much easier to find space to read printed material as opposed to opening a laptop.

    • Barbara
      Barbara says:

      Knitting in airports and on planes is the best! I see more and more knitters pulling out their needles when delays are announced. I look for other knitters and plunk myself down next to them. Even if it’s not my gate. Recently had lively 4-way knitting conversation during a 3 hour delay. We got a lot of chatting and knitting done. I finished 2 cotton dishcloths.

  16. JB
    JB says:

    My multi-tasking, Type-A tip for staying healthy and sightseeing on a business trip: skip the (usually lousy) hotel gym, get a map from the concierge and go for a run or walk in the early morning. You get exercise, you get some fresh air before you sit in conference rooms all day and you get to see the city and people before everyone else wakes up. I’ve been able to really get the feel for New York, Chicago, London and even Prague this way.

    • Wendy
      Wendy says:

      Further on this tip, ask when you check in if the hotel has running maps. Runner’s World magazine has helped produce them for some of the major hotel chains. They are small, easy to carry and offer a few different routes right from the hotel door.

  17. Leftcoast
    Leftcoast says:

    Depends on where you travel and how you value international experience.

    I’ve been extremely lucky in my corporate travel destinations and have got to spend time in Amsterdam, London, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. Anyone who doesn’t take time in those locations to get to know the people and the atmosphere is doing both himself and his company and disservice. (I view learning about the cultures of these places as PART of my job.)

    And of course, when am I ever going to be in Amsterdam again with an expense account to pick up the tab?

  18. DT
    DT says:

    My business travel is a bit unusual: I’m generally gone for a month or more at a time. The best strategy I’ve picked up is to bring a small photo album of my family with me. It cheers me up, of course, but it’s also a great conversation starter for people with whom I lack a common language. I’ve been stuck in airports and train stations all over Southeast Asia, and this has come in handy.

    And I agree about having an activity you can do in multiple cities! I’m a dancer, and I when I’m traveling in the US I will often look online in advance to find classes in my discipline.

  19. Juliette
    Juliette says:

    I’ll be keeping these tips in mind. Great dialogue on this topic (save for the random, disrespectful, attention-grabbing comment from John Gazzara, of course.)

  20. Aleta Fullenwider
    Aleta Fullenwider says:

    I didn’t see if anyone else wrote this but I’ve found that getting enough sleep is really vital. If I have to catch a super early or even early flight, I’ll leave work a few hours earlier. I workout, get a nice dinner, and go to bed earlier. When I arrive at my destination, I make sure that I also get some additional sleep even if it means not answering every work email or watching the ending to some hotel movie. It definitely helps me.

  21. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    Without business trips I would never have been able to travel to Europe and Japan. I made an effort to see museums and theatre because I never knew if I would be back. I don’t regret it. One day at a dance performance in Tokyo 3 Japanese women spotted me in the most Japanese crowd and came over to thank me for attending. It was fun chatting with them and learning something about their wonderful culture.

  22. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    I think a big part of the reason why people hate travelling for work is that – travelling sucks. All these things apply even if you’re travelling for a holiday. Airports are the most rage-inducing environments on the planet. Queues, waiting, ridiculous rules, rude staff, staff who clearly don’t give a damn. Flights regularly cancelled making connections impossible. Delays. Overcrowding. Overbooking. More waiting. And don’t even get me started on security. Pointless, random rules. Taking off my shoes. And what about when you’ve gone THROUGH security, and are on the other side, buy a bottle of water, leave it sealed, and they take it off you at the gate! And all the time you just know that it’s not going to stop one single terrorist, but is simply all about being seen to go through the motions.
    Avoid airlines like the plague. It’s hard in America, but in Europe there is a brilliant rail system which you should choose every time over air.

  23. JC
    JC says:

    Travel tip: Read hotel reviews online before booking. As a college student, I go for cheapest of the cheap, as long as it isn’t a cess pool. This has worked out that the cheapest place around (accessible by public transport from the airport) was way nicer than any business traveler would probably ever realize. $80/night vs $150, $200, $300? Doesn’t really matter. A bed’s a bed (under most circumstances).

    “Now I think in terms of weeks. If I was gone all week, I take off a day from work to have extra time for my personal life”
    Interestingly, children don’t tend to think in weeks, but in days, hours, and minutes. As adults, we can handle our own lives around week segments, but children are full-time. I wasn’t a reader until recently, so I don’t know what kind of situation they were in while you were gone, but I can guess that (from my own personal experience), having the single parent gone from the house for long, odd hours sucks, hurts, and leaves the kid a little emptier.

  24. Modern Street
    Modern Street says:

    I agree with points 1-3, and 5, but somehow getting elite status does not compute with me, or maybe that’s because my company was never one of those to confer such “privileges”, at least not to me, lol :/

    • Caitlin
      Caitlin says:

      It’s the airline or hotel chain that confers elite status. It’s up to you to join the frequent flyer / air miles program but your company can’t stop you earning those rewards. They can fly you a different airline every time, of course, but they can’t stop you earning points.

      • Hank
        Hank says:

        Actually, my company now seizes FFMiles and Hotel reward points, their view is that they pay for the tickets and stays, and they should keep the rewards. Up until this year we got to keep them outselves, but now they get rebated back to the company from the company’s travel agent. I travel 35 weeks (~100 nights) a year, and having all my status expire in 2009-10 is really going to hurt.

  25. Isao
    Isao says:

    Having worked as a field application engineer for 5 years I should have learned the well-pointed out tricks, but I never got to “burned-out” quickly because business trip only happened once a month. I think that was still not frequent enough to give me a wake-up call. I did sightseeing, dined at fancy restaurants, met people just because they were there (and wanted to show off I could travel) and I was productive only during the meetings.
    But it slowly accumulates, even for infrequent travelers. I left that lifestyle, and in the past 4 years had only one business trip flight. I don’t look back – I can shrug my shoulder and say, “I had it.” It’s like not wanting to have a car because I don’t neet it and I also had it before.

  26. Van
    Van says:

    I’m going on my first business trip to a marketing convention in New York within a few months. It will be my first time in New York City. If I don’t get some sight-seeing in I must jump out the hotel window…business trips are teasing evil for photographers and artist/exploring types…

  27. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    This post is so not for me. I love travel. I love visiting random museums in random cities. I love hanging out with random people in random cities who I may not otherwise have met. I’ve been meeting cool Twitter friends as they come through San Francisco too – hey, you’re always telling us we should network more!

    When I’ve travelled for work, I’ve always been lucky enough to either tweak the job so I get to do the sightseeing I want to do, or find the time to do the sightseeing I want to do after hours. Sometimes I even extend my business travel in a place to tack a personal holiday on the end.

    Each to their own. As you say, it’s about priorities. Travel and new experiences is one of mine.

  28. Philotera
    Philotera says:

    I'd add one thing to this (we are consultants, we also travel ALL the time). Pick a hotel and use them as often as you can. Be a member of their club. I have two specific chains I like. They use the same design in all their hotels, I get the same room number every time because that room layout works for me. It's almost like never leaving home.
    Also, Hertz Gold is fantastic if you rent cars. You never have to wait in line coming or going. Worth it for the time savings.
    Alaska is the best airline in the west. No one else comes close. We fly it everywhere it goes, which is pretty extensive. We refuse to fly "tourist" airlines. The annoyance is not worth the savings.

  29. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I have small children, 2 and 4, so keep business trips short, which means flying afternoons and even nights after the kids go to bed, and flying home at the end of a long business day. But I do make getting up early to work out a priority along with getting enough sleep. Finding time to eat is a challenge, but at least I lose a pound or two on the trip.

    I also try to have a couple hours which are a “break” for me from my busy working mom life — I might go shopping for clothes for me one evening (never have time to do this at home); I might watch a movie on the return flight; I might sit in the bath and read before bed. Nothing wrong with taking advantage of a child-free and interruption-free evening and it helps make the long business days I do while on the road more manageable and the jet lag + kids scenario when I return less stressful.

  30. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Oh – another tip with airlines if you do cross-country flights, learn what the flight numbers mean and pay attention to what type of plane.

    For Toronto-Vancouver trips, for example, two digit Air Canada flight numbers mean international flight, which means bigger plane (smoother ride), a more experienced and professional crew and often more experienced fellow travellers. Overall a much more pleasant experience.

    Also, because the plane is on it’s way to, say, Sydney from Toronto (with a stop in Vancouver), and is a Quantas code share, they don’t cancel it or delay it. Leaves and arrives on time with no luggage lost.

  31. JP
    JP says:

    Agree with your tip about getting elite status on airlines. I only fly one airline. Being elite has saved me many times when flights are cancelled and need to be rebooked.

    In order to stay in really nice hotels, I use With sites like, you can take out a lot of the mystery of hotels. I have not paid more than $175 for a 4 or 5 star hotel in NYC ever. Even during big conventions. Nothing like staying in a great hotel for half or more what others are paying.

    Plus, priceline works best for last minute travel. Hotels have extra rooms, they lower the prices.

  32. Sharon M
    Sharon M says:

    As an infrequent business traveler, I have to admit I love to sightsee and felt it very empowering to spend an entire day on the hop-on-hop-off tour buses in London all by my lonesome on a trip. But, you make a good point that you don’t need to put unfair demands on yourself to do things you wouldn’t normally want to do. Also, making an effort to eat healthy is a great reminder.

  33. TheMyxScene
    TheMyxScene says:

    What I could add to make a business travel manageable is that don’t get your personal problems come to your way so that you won’t be bother on your set schedule for your business trip. Sometimes it does really affect when personal matters comes on your way.

  34. Deirdré Straughan
    Deirdré Straughan says:

    It’s good to be open to unexpected opportunities. I guess I’m lucky I know really cool people all over the world, and I usually make it a point to see whoever I can, wherever I’m going. Making the effort to keep up with a huge and varied network (both business and personal) has led to all kinds of wonderful, unexpected things. And, even hanging out with someone I may not know all that well but am likely to find interesting is a LOT more fun than yet another night in a hotel room.

  35. Reise Laender From Europe
    Reise Laender From Europe says:

    Traveling for pleasure and traveling for business is just the same for me – I enjoy both. It’s being in a new place that makes it exciting. But I definitely enjoy traveling more when I’m with my family.

    But the perks of business travel, well we don’t have to spend a dime and still get pleasure from the trip.

  36. Jeffe Kennedy
    Jeffe Kennedy says:

    I loved this post, thought it was spot-on and shared it with my team. But I’m a person who travels for my job one to two weeks out of every month. People who travel occasionally for work simply do not get what it’s like when, as you put it, travel IS your life. Yes, I like to see new places, but in the end, a conference room in Trenton, NJ, is not much different from a conference room in Honolulu, HI. If you get to arrange extra time on the beginning or end of the trip to play, great — but it’s still not vacation travel and still becomes more time away from home. As my boss puts it, if she sees one more restaurant menu without steamed vegetables, she thinks she’ll cry.

    Really, it all hinges on that delicate balance of how much time you’re really on the road. If I’m on a business trip for the third week in a row? No, I so do not care about sight-seeing. Just let me get some exercise, eat something reasonably healthy and finish the work fast so I can go home!

    Thanks for this post — I’ll think of it the next time someone helpfully offers me a list of “things to see and do” in the next city I visit, blissfully oblivious to the difference between work travel and fun travel.

  37. ioana
    ioana says:

    Meh. I loved travelling for business. I was in Bangkok for 2 months. I would wake up at 6:30 to take tai-chi in the Lumpini park. Then I’d hop on the motorcycle taxi to go back to the hotel to take a shower before going to work. I’d work until 5:30 then, I’d go. I went everywhere! saw quite a lot of Bangkok, and on the weekend I took tours, went to Chiang Mai etc. I loved being half tourist half on business. It was exhausting but so much fun.

  38. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    “I can't find a link but I'm sure there's a study to support the hypothesis that you deal with the stress of travel more effectively without McDonald's.”

    I really liked this article titled ‘7 Ways to De-Stress Your Diet – Nutritional tricks to help you stave off stress’ at WebMD – – because it approaches stress and bad eating habits from both perspectives. That is to say, stress will usually lead us to eat badly and bad eating habits will usually make us feel stressed out.
    There’s also some good tips at with an article titled ‘Good Nutrition: How to Combat Stress with Good Nutrition – You're Never Too Busy For Good Nutrition!’ – .

  39. Sophia Hudson
    Sophia Hudson says:

    That ‘s great and cool tips for managing your business travel comfortable.We all know how to travel but when it comes to the business travel,we all don’t know much.I think you have given such an important information to us.

  40. Liz
    Liz says:

    I am so happy I left a job that required lots of travel. It was fun for about 5 minutes, and then I didn’t want to anymore.

  41. Jim C.
    Jim C. says:

    “First of all, you're not paying for your own food, so you should eat really good, healthy food, which is always more expensive than junk food.”
    I used to travel a lot on the job, and I found the above not to be true.
    I learned to eat less when on the road. You spend so many hours sitting down, on planes and in meetings, that your butt will end up shaped like the seat unless you cut 500 to 1000 calories from your diet.
    I still follow that rule when I travel. Very few big meals; mostly sandwiches, salads, and NO FRIES, EVER. You know what? It costs less than junk food.

    • Lalit
      Lalit says:

      I suppose eating a healthy meal at a restaurant is a better option but involves the cost of time. But, with things like the iphone it should be easier?

      Additionally, sandwiches only for me makes a joyous trip feel like a chore.

      Go for a particular kind of ethnic food that you like, maybe it’ll help keep you consistent in the managing calories. Downside is it won’t be available every time.

      • Jim C.
        Jim C. says:

        I didn’t say sandwiches only. I said mostly just sandwiches and salads, and stay away from fries; choose cole slaw or cottage cheese on the side instead of anything deep-fried. But learn to enjoy your travel without heavy meals and desserts. Some sandwiches are wonderful. My perennial favorites are Reubens and French dips, but turkey sandwiches are great, as are Cobb salads.
        Most of us burn fewer calories on the road than we do at home, so we need to take in fewer calories or we end up carrying them on our bodies. “On the table today, on the chair tomorrow!”

  42. Jude
    Jude says:

    The best move I’ve made to make traveling easier is to invest in a small bag that will fit underneath the seat. I keep it stocked with snacks and other items, including my netbook, that I like to have handy during a flight. So if we can’t get out of our seat to get into the overhead I still have all of my essentials at hand.

  43. Chuck
    Chuck says:

    Many of these comments are spot on and most of them boil down to being prepared and positive. Here are a few others I try:

    – Pay for an airport lounge membership. I often get to the airport 1 or 2 hours earlier than needed and use the quiet time to mentally prepare for the trip and get into travel mode. I also use the club when I get off the plane to freshen up and get my bearings.

    – Get the smallest, fewest and best electronics you can afford. Big laptops, printers and projectors are a pain to lug around and just aren’t needed. Replace with borrowing, netbooks, thumb drives, pda, etc.

    – make a small kit of essentials to keep yourself occupied during the flight. reading material, gum, earplugs, hand sanitizer, pda (doubles as ipod) with earphones, pen, paper, glasses, small snack, small bottle for water, tissue paper, etc. Be ready to share (not the pda).

    – no matter how you feel, be super friendly and courteous to other people, especially the staff. Results in some humourous eye contact with flight attendants when some else starts acting up. Also, especially in foreign travel, you never know who you will need to help you. Once needed to borrow $100 US Cash at 2 am for entry visa into Hanoi and person who helped me was someone I had been nice to on the flight)

    – Don’t eat too much or drink too much alcohol

  44. Business Travel Blogger
    Business Travel Blogger says:

    Thanks for the reminder that life is about the experience and I often forget how lucky I am to have the opportunity to travel and see the world. I now need to make it more of a priority to enjoy that time and get out after the meetings and really see the world.

  45. Brady Bagwan
    Brady Bagwan says:

    Business travel was great for the first couple of months in my career. Now it's a hindrance in maintaining a healthy work/life balance. You eat junk, find it hard to make it into the gym with the long hours on the road, etc. The worst is coming home and not having had things done around the house. One way to overcome this is to use a personal assistant service. I just started a company called Delegate Source based in Denver. While there are quite a few concierge services out there, there are very few who approach lifestyle and household management broadly. It really is simple math. If a professional’s hourly cost is more than the cost of outsourcing personal services, why not achieve a better work/life balance by delegating errands and tasks?

  46. Business Travel Blogger
    Business Travel Blogger says:

    You are absolutely right that one of the worst things about traveling so much is that many chores around the house get put off. I would love to have an assistant, but instead I just live in a well managed apartment. I simply love the freedom it gives me, and knowing that my home is taken care of even while I’m away.

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