7 Tips for New Business Travelers

Being a frequent business traveler is a little like being in a secret club with a lingo all it's own and a shared set of experiences. Even networking with someone I just met we compare our airport favorites (identifying airports by their codes of course), share restaurant recommendations in upcoming cities, and discuss preferred brands and points promotions. Whether you are a newbie business traveler or have been spending 100+ nights annually in a hotel since before 3.4 oz carry-on liquids became a thing here are 7 tips to keep in mind.

1. Become a creature of habit when you enter a hotel room. Let's face it. When you stay in a different hotel every night they all kind of start to look the same. You start entering the wrong room number when you go to enter the wifi password, wake up trying to remember what city you are in, and wonder how soon it will be the weekend. Now throw in a potential a middle of the night fire alarm that leaves you standing out in the cold in pj's with no wallet and it's enough to drive you prematurely gray. But if you have a standard spot for certain things in every hotel room you stay in you will never find yourself pantsless in the middle of the night looking for your keys. Immediately upon entering a hotel room I place my keys, wallet, and room keys on the bathroom counter. I hang an outfit on the peg on the wall (Hampton Inn's) or on the back of the bathroom door. My shoes go directly in front of the door. This way if there is an emergency I can throw my pants on, grab my personal items, and put my shoes on before leaving the room quickly. I also take a picture of the room phone when I first get into my room. It always has the address of the hotel on it.

2. Be brand loyal. I'm a deal girl. I love to look for the best price but for business travel I stick to the best price in one brand. By being brand loyal I earn more points per stay, get free wifi, receive free drinks & snacks at checkin, pick up free breakfast slips and have access to last minute rooms that others don't have. Plus on Thursday when my brain is fried I at least know what brand hotel I booked.

3. Don't unpack. This one cuts two ways. I don't unpack in hotel rooms. It is a waste of time when I am only going to be there for a night and it speeds up my morning routine. But once I arrive home I also don't unpack. I open my suitcase in the laundry room and take out my packing cube of dirty clothes to wash. Once they are out of the dryer back into my suitcase they go. By having a minimal business wardrobe and repacking right away I save myself time. The toiletries I bring with me are not ones I need at home so I don't need to worry about forgetting anything. Keep a separate toothbrush, deodorant, and makeup kit in your suitcase if you travel frequently. Anything that you use both at home and on the road is an item that you can and will forget on a trip. Buy 2.

4. Make a list and check it twice. At the end of every week review your upcoming travel plans briefly. It can be easy to miss a step if you are booking a lot of trips and while finding a hotel room last minute is usually not a monumental task, standing at O'Hare and realizing you don't have a flight home is a little bit of a larger problem. Better to catch these things early. Pay special attention to airport codes. Back when the Monroe County Airport in Bloomington Indiana had commercial flights a coworker found herself there, 3 hours and 40 minutes from her intended destination of the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington Illinois after a mix up with a travel agent. Oops. Double check all reservations and put them on your calendar so you can see a missing hotel night or flight info easily.

5. Think outside the restaurant box. Back to back nights on the road, especially when you are in different cities can wear on a person. Remember that restaurants aren't your only choice when you are on the road. Although it is nice to get out and interact with other humans sometimes you just need to refuel in your room watching trashy reality television and eating takeout. Don't count out grocery stores either. If you have dietary restrictions grocery stores can be a great spot to pick up items you can eat. Whole Foods have condiment stations that you can utilize to doctor up a bag of salad mix into a meal. Seek out small local locations. Some of my favorite lunches are fruit cups in San Antonio. Made to order meal sites like Texas-based Snap Kitchen are also great options. Since I am not able to have gluten Snap Kitchen is one of my favorite stops in Austin, Houston or Dallas to pick up ready to eat meals. I bring them back to the hotel with me and microwave them. I can also grab breakfast for the next morning since I can't eat many items in the free hotel breakfasts.

6. Don't be afraid to change plans. We all want to be responsible business travelers and stay within company budget parameters but this being said you also have to be flexible with travel plans as new opportunities and appointments come up. This means feeling confident switching reservations. I book on Southwest since my plans change a lot and they allow me to move flights around with no change fees. It is also a good idea to relook at rental car prices a few days before your trip if you booked in advance. They often go down.

7. Know what to do if you're sick on the road. At some point in time or another you will get sick on the road. You'll be in a strange city, lying on the bathroom floor in a hotel room trying to crawl to the phone to tell them you need late checkout. Hopefully your experience won't be that dramatic or happen when you are 32 weeks pregnant (that was quite the week in Cleveland). But the great news is that now you can have access to a doctor from the comfort of your hotel room. You don't even have to put your pants on! Part of the agony of not feeling well on the road is that the effort involved in "getting better" is a lot. Researching somewhere to go in a different city. Playing the insurance game. Waiting. Usually I just muddle through.
Not so with American Well. They are the nation's largest telehealth company with doctors on call 24/7 365 days a year. The docs are board certified with an average of 15 years of experience. Did I mention you don't have to put your pants on? You can book a quick appointment with a doctor and they can even issue any prescription you need. Save time, save money, save yourself the agony of laying on the bathroom floor plotting your next move. I am so excited to have this new tool in my business travel trick playbook. You can sign up at any time and there are no charges until you have an appointment. And here is where Travelingmom and American Well are offering my readers a special deal. Use code TMOM and receive a visit free (up to $49 value). Look at you smart business traveler, look at you!

This post was sponsored by Travelingmom and American Well. Please see the info below for Twitter party info.

Travelingmom will be having a Twitter party on Monday September 28th at 8pm CST to chat about travel and wellness. Follow #TMOM and #AmWellMD. I'd love it if you'd join!
Any business travel hints that I missed?
TravelingMom #AmWellMD

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