7 tips for stress-free business travel

How to stay grounded when you're on the road for work

Woman working on computer
(Image credit: (Courtesy Shutterstock))

Traveling for business is widely misunderstood: To those who don't go often, it sounds like a vacation with a little responsibility — a break from your regular life, enhanced by free meals, sightseeing, and the opportunity for an out-of-town hook-up.

But those who do it often know that work travel is really just work, but with more organization, more fatigue, and more face-to-face meetings.

Here, a few ways to make your life easier when you're on the road for work.

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1. Perma-packing

For frequent, short-trip travelers, think about keeping a ready-to-go carry-on bag in your closet. A pre-packed bag will keep you from stressful last minute packing, plus you'll be less likely to forget something important, like your phone charger.

It should contain travel necessities: A fresh shirt, pajamas, tech cords, toiletries (just the stuff hotels don't offer), a change of underthings, pens, a note pad, Altoids, band aids and Advil, and a fold-down umbrella. At the end of each trip, restock and freshen the bag, add a drier sheet to keep the clothes smelling nice, and leave it in your closet.

Then, when it's time to go, you only need to make day-of, trip specific add-ons. Like your laptop, current reading material, and sunglasses if you're flying somewhere bright.

2. Protect your tie

Gentlemen: A wrinkly tie is business no-no, and a needless hassle to iron. Save yourself the trouble with this trick: Roll your tie pretty tight and slide it inside a tube, like a toilet paper roll, and tuck it with your things.

3. Protect your jewels

Ladies: What's a bigger travel bummer than having to detangle that gold chain necklace that got balled up in a rough little knot at the bottom of your carry-on? To prevent this, string one side through a straw, and lock the clasp. On the same note, if you have multiple rings that could scratch each other, use one of those weekday pill organizers, and put one in each. And keep your earrings together by attaching them through the holes of a good-sized button.

4. Bite the bullet and go elite

As the well-traveled basketball player Michael Jordan was once paid a lot of money to say: Just do it. Air travel has gotten pretty grisly over the last decade, and elite membership is a way to soften the edges. You bypass lines and ticket service charges, your seating upgrades are prioritized, and your bags are the first ones delivered at the baggage claim. As with life, travel is about the little things. So if you can go elite, do.

5. Beat jet lag

Our friends at Mental Floss compiled a whole list of strategies for avoiding jet lag, including staying hydrated while in-flight boozing, exercising, and making sure your skin sees some sun. If you're traveling at night, maybe also ask your doctor about a sleeping pill to help you adjust your clock. She may say no, but asking can't hurt.

6. Catch up on email

Those in-flight hours when you're strapped to your seat are the perfect opportunity to catch up on the parts of your worklife you've let slip. For many of us, that's email. Many short flights still don't have Wi-Fi, so cue up 15, 20, or however many emails you can on your laptop before the flight, and take the time to write thoughtful replies. Then send them off next time you're connected.

7. Pre-book your car

Taxis are always available at airports, but actually getting in them can be a pain: The lines are often long and exposed to the weather, and the airport fees are always high. Instead, pre-book a car, which, in many towns, is no pricier than taking a cab. There are few better feelings on a business trip — or in life, probably — than being greeted by a man in a suit holding a card with your name spelled out in sharpie.

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