No wonder that Americans went on more than 452 million corporate trips in 2014, with almost 40% going to meetings and events.
Even though corporate travel is not about the employee’s pleasure and serves a greater purpose, there are still some easy ways to make the most out of your trip and even save your company some money.
Corporate Travel Doesn’t Have To Be Stressful
Corporate trips can be exhausting and anyone who ever had to fly 15 hours and navigate their way through Tokyo’s underground system, will probably agree. If it doesn’t affect your work, there is no harm in adding a leisure component to your trip and return home refreshed – or at least not as exhausted as you were on your last corporate trip.
Sign Up For TSA Pre-Check
Some people seem to forget that the travel experience starts before you actually are on board of the aircraft. How many times did you rush to the airport and were already stressed by long security lines, travelers with heavy bags who start unpacking their stuff to avoid excess baggage fees and slow processes in general? If you travel frequently, there is an easy way to eliminate those stressful situations. For $85 you can sign up for the TSA Pre-Check which will make your travel experience easier for the next 5 years. You will not have to wait for other passengers, take your shoes off in front of everyone or be scared that someone might just steal your laptop while you are still getting checked. (Yes, that actually happens quite often) You can just skip the line and head right to your gate after a quick and uncomplicated check. Just make sure to sign up in time, since it can take 2-3 weeks until your application gets approved.
Get Your IDP
You spent hours on a plane and –quite frankly- just want to get your rental car as soon as possible, drive to the hotel and relax for a while. If you travel abroad, you should not forget to get your International Driving Permit in advance. Not every country recognizes U.S. driver’s licenses, but IDPs are valid in more than 150 countries and contain your information translated into ten different languages. Even if you are not going to drive, the IDP fee is only $15 (plus shipping and handling) and can be used as a form of identification in case you need to communicate with foreign authorities.
Communicate With Your Travel Agent
Before your travel agent fires up the corporate booking tool of your company, you should ask him if it’s possible to arrange a late hotel check-in. Not every company has arrangements or an elite status with a hotel chain, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stay in a tiny room with stains on your bedding. Most elite members have already checked in by late afternoon, so it’s usually easier to get a room update when you check in late. Be kind to the check-in agent and ask for other options. If there are any rooms available, you can usually get them for free or a small fee.
Sure, this isn’t something everyone can do, but if you feel comfortable you can ask for an unpaid extended stay. Let’s say you need to fly to London on a Thursday, go to an event on Friday and take the plane back home on the same day. You could easily make more out of your trip, explore the city for two more days and fly back on Sunday. It usually costs your employer the same and sometimes the ticket price can even be cheaper this way.
Get Free Wi-Fi
Not every airport offers free Wi-Fi. Some charge a ridiculously high fee not everyone is willing to pay. This can be very frustrating, especially when you have a long layover and no access to your e-mails and browser. Foursquare can be your friend and helper in this situation. Just search for your airport and check if someone has shared the Wi-Fi code in the comment section. Another option is to add “?.jpg” at the end of the URL you want to visit. Unfortunately, this will only work if the Wi-Fi network allows images to go through without a redirect. Just give it a try, but watch out: Security should be a serious concern.
Combine Business and Pleasure
Instead of meeting in a restaurant or the hotel lobby, stand out and invite your client to an art gallery. This is an easy way to break the ice, get business done and make the most out of your corporate trip at the same time. If the occasion is very formal and you are not sure if an exhibition is the right place to talk about business related topics, you can always make a reservation in a nearby restaurant and go to the gallery after your meal.
Use Yelp and Save Money
A very easy way to save money is Yelp. You can find great restaurants sorted by ratings. This can be very helpful if you are in a city you haven’t been to before and don’t want to end up eating at Mc Donald’s. Some places offer free beverages or 20% off the entire menu (and many other nice extras) if you check in through the app and present the server your coupon. Don’t worry, it’s free!
If you are on a special diet and prefer to eat gluten free or vegetarian/vegan, you can visit GlutenFreeTravelSite.com and HappyCow.net. If you want to eat organic, a little research prior to your trip can be helpful. Organic restaurants, supermarkets or local farmers markets can easily be found via Google or Yelp. If you travel within the U.S., Organic.org will show you stores and farmers markets that carry organic products. To be on the safe side, you can still put some organic protein bars and nuts into your hand luggage and ask the hotel staff for recommendations as soon as you arrive. Just because you are on a corporate trip does not mean you need to change your eating habits.
Save Your Company Some Money and Eat For Free
Yes, there is actually a way you can eat for free when you are traveling on a budget or simply want to save your company some bucks. As soon as you know where you are going, search for non-profit, pay-what-you-want and ultra-low-cost restaurants via Google. You won’t get a five-course Hilton menu, but a three-course meal for free or less than 5 dollars shouldn’t be a problem. You will get to know the local cuisine and your employer doesn’t have to pay for pricey restaurants.
Easily Take Back Unwanted Voicemails
The last advice is not only helpful during corporate trips, but also when you are already back at work. Imagine you just landed at your destination and need to call your business partner. Just when you are about to leave a voicemail the airport staff is loudly announcing something and interrupting you in the middle of your sentence. Having to leave 2-3 voice messages because of awkward interruptions can be embarrassing and unprofessional. The next time you lose your train of thought immediately press the # button on your phone and you will be given access to a menu that lets you erase or re-record your voicemail.
These are just a few tips on how to make the most out of your corporate travel. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can always allow an hour or two a day for a quick workout before breakfast, a guided city tour or even a massage between two meetings. Explore your surroundings, even if it is just for an hour and don’t just focus your sightseeing on the inside of the hotel.
If you have more tips, feel free to leave a comment and over time we will get a nice and helpful list for corporate travelers.
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