Travel happens. The global nature of our jobs is beginning to make it so we have to go places and do things there. The illusion that video chat will replace honest face-to-face communications is fading into the distance. You want to make something happen? See someone up close and personal.
Traveling for work sounds glamorous. Flying across the country. Eating fine foods. Staying in fancy hotels. The reality of travel is long lines at airports, cramped seating, less-than-fine meals, and adequate places to sleep between 12-14 hours of meetings each day. Traveling for work is not nearly as exciting and fast-paced as the old newsreels of the movies used to make it seem.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find ways maximize your travel, though. Stephen Foskett recently stepped up to deliver an Ignite talk at Security Field Day about earning your white belt in business traveler Kung-Fu. Observe, Grasshopper:
Disclaimer: Stephen is my boss and has taught me everything I know about business travel. But his lessons are sound and you can take a lot away from what he is teaching. Let’s take away some of the Travel Sensei’s words of wisdom:
- The Smart Traveler Rewards Their Efforts – You should totally make sure to join up to reward programs. Pick one airline and stick with it to get points and status. Pick one hotel chain to get points for status and free nights. Make it make sense to your needs. Don’t pick Southwest if you fly internationally all the time. Don’t pick Hilton if there aren’t any Hilton’s where you normally stay. Don’t shop based solely on price. Getting a break now and then is okay for crazy things, but getting reward points is like free money down the line.
- The Smart Traveler Can Reward Themselves – If you can, make sure you use your own rewards card to book these things. The company may have a corporate credit card, but you don’t get to see much value from it. If you book your travel on your card, you get all the benefits. Think about it like this: you’re the one doing all the work, why shouldn’t you gain the benefits.
- The Smart Traveler Doesn’t Give Where It Isn’t Needed – If you’re using your own card for travel and rewards, don’t carry a balance on it for your company. If the company policy is to pay expenses 30-60 days out, find a new way to do things. If you carry a few thousand dollars balance on your card for your company, they get an interest-free loan. And don’t do this if you have a card with debt already. Keep your business and personal stuff separate just in case.
Remember that this is just the introduction. There are people in the world that have every trick figured out, from maximizing rental cars to the absolute best point values for cards.
Bringing It All Together
Travel doesn’t have to suck as much as it does. When you do it often enough, you look for the tricks to make it better. You find ways to make it work for you. Just like taking a shortcut on the drive to work or cashing in a Buy One, Get One coupon for lunch. Watch Stephen’s talk and explore on your own to find ways to make your travel life a little better. You’ll be a black belt in no time.