Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 29, 2011 7:04 PM

The Best Piece Of Business Travel Advice

I use one particular technique/tactic that makes business travel all that much more palpable.

It's also a technique I rarely see mentioned anywhere. It has nothing to do with the type of luggage to use (but, for the record, you should use either the Eagle Creek Tarmac 22 or the Eagle Creek Traverse Pro 22), how to pack (use the Eagle Creek Pack-It System, how to accumulate air mile points or how to get entry into the lounge. It also has nothing to do with getting through security faster (hint: get a Nexus Card!) or how to best make use of down time, flight delays or cancellations.

It's all about getting home. 

The most frequent question I get asked is how I cope with travelling so much. The truth is that I don't feel like I'm away from home or the Twist Image offices all that much because my frequency of travel is mostly due to my desire to race back home as quickly as possible. There are many instances where I'm gone (back and forth) on the same day and I make a rule to only sleep outside of my own bed for one night (two nights - at the maximum). But, that's not the best piece of business travel advice I can offer you. Those are all both business and personal choices that you have to make. The impetus for my best piece of business travel advice comes from the notion that I want to be home (as much as possible) for my family. So, how does this all come together?...

Check the flights first.

Most people get a request to meet and they immediately accept. Prior to accepting the meeting, I check the airlines to see what my options are first. More often than not, it's possible to get in and out on the same day (without too much rushing). If I have to sleep over in a hotel, I can also organize my meeting time, so that it best suits my family needs first. By checking the airlines, I can then reach back out to the client and ask for a specific meeting time (it's usually a large enough window in the day that it's both possible and acceptable to the client). Yes, I realize that this is sometimes difficult to do (especially if they only have one, specific, time slot available), but it's worth the shot. If you don't ask, you don't get. More often than not, the clients are also understanding (both of the time request and the extra effort that comes from the uncertainty of air travel).

This does not work all of the time.

There are many people who do not like the stress of air travel and would rather be on site a day earlier or have the evening to relax after the meeting. I recognize that this technique may not be optimal for all. On top of that, this advice works best if you do have a higher level of airline status and the ability to brisk through security. Along with having Super Elite status (and trust me, I'm not bragging here... ), both my American Express credit card and Nexus Card allow me to move through security and customs at a very quick pace, and this also makes this technique that much more valuable.

What if it fails?

Flights do get cancelled for many reasons. They are delayed often too. There's no doubt that this technique can pose a problem (so don't do it if it's a life-changing meeting!), but so long as everyone is clear on the up-front about this, people seem to understand if it's a circumstance beyond your control. The only additional caveat to this technique (and the possible downside for others) is that I book the flight out as early as possible in the morning. This way, there is a window and/or options should there be a delay or cancellation. I, obviously, don't use this technique one hundred percent of the time. It is situational. That being said, I find that checking flights first - before confirming the meeting time - has changed my life. It has made my schedule that much more flexible and finds me in a position where - at the very least - I'm either dropping the kids off at school if I can't see them at night or reading stories and putting them to bed in the evening if I'm out in the early morning.

What's the best piece of business travel advice that you have?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by John J. Wall
    Mitch Joel

    AmEx Platinum card is my favorite, getting access to the clubs without being a million miler is a huge stress reduction for me.

    Reply
    • Posted by seoin diaa
      Mitch Joel

      Well for me American express along with some privilege does the job. I really enjoy the special benefits as I have to travel frequently and yes I always do check my bag Arjun ;)

      Reply
  • Posted by Arjun Basu
    Mitch Joel

    I underpack. I wear shoes without laces to make security less of a hassle. I try and get back home as quickly as possible. I try and behave "time zone responsibly." and I never ever ever check my bag.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Be nice. I fly well over a 100 flights per year and easily the best advice I can give to someone, is simply to be nice. Being polite with a nice will do wonders with people that have been used to dealing with rudeness all day.

    Reply
    • Posted by Steve Fleck
      Mitch Joel

      Agreed about being "Nice" - seriously. You see so many people getting all stressed out about the most minor things when traveling. I make sure that I am as nice and as pleasant as I can be with everyone that I come into contact with along the way - flight crews and airline people in particular.

      Reply
  • Posted by Kathryn Booth
    Mitch Joel

    My family has NEXUS and it does work great (we live on the US/Canada border and the kids go through Canada to get to school on the bus) Last Thanksgiving we went to Minnesota via YVR and had no problem getting on the planes going, but coming back we got a Canadian customs official that insisted that we present Passports as well.
    Technically this is something they can do (asked my friendly neighborhood border guards) so having the passport in reserve isn't a bad idea.
    Great article - and whatever you can do to be home for your kids is worth it x 10. Kudos for prioritizing that.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Wow. See for me, just getting to FLY period is cool and all. Night or day. Rain or shine. In fact, being a captain has GOT to be a good time. One of those widows from the 9/11 tragedy said that her husband got up that morning and said, "I get to FLY today!!" Whenever I see a plane overhead, I want to be in it.

    Good seeing you at Blog World, Mitch. Let's see ... was that a one-nighter or a two? You must have made an exception there ...

    Reply
  • Posted by Tim Sanchez
    Mitch Joel

    My travel advice (rules):

    - NEVER check a bag.
    - Pack your primary clothes inside of the plastic dry-cleaning bags you get from the cleaners. Best no-wrinkle tip ever.
    - Check in exactly 24 hrs before the flight and try to get a better seat (if you're not already at the status of this happening automatically).
    - Avoid booking the last available flight back home. If it gets cancelled, you're staying another night.
    - Be nice to everyone. Travelers and the people that serve them are always stressed out.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ava Chisling
    Ava Chisling

    If I know I will arrive at a hotel earlier than check-out time, a common problem when flying to Europe, I reserve the room for the night before I arrive. Most hotels charge 50% or less for the convenience and it's worth the price not to have to hang around for five hours. I rarely arrive the day of a meeting as I prefer to sort out directions, transportation and travel time beforehand. I also turn off my data to avoid nasty surprises.

    Reply
  • Posted by al mair
    Mitch Joel

    I used to go to NYC every two weeks. I caught the 7 am flight to Laguardia, arriving at 8:15. Took the helicopter to downtown, and was in my lawyer's office by 9, and had a coffee while waiting for him to walk through Central Park. We met for an hour, and I then left for my first meeting. I stayed overnight in midtown, had my second day meetings, and caught the 7 pm flight back to Toronto. Had two full days of business, one nights hotel expense, and slept at home the second night.

    Reply
  • Posted by MySocialMediaMentors.com
    Mitch Joel

    Well said! I really do agree with all of those mentioned tips for business travels. Thanks for all of the reminders.

    Reply
  • Posted by Lee Walsh
    Lee Walsh

    Having a small sized GPS bracelet or necklace incase you are kidnapped!!!

    Reply
  • Posted by Josh Muirhead
    Mitch Joel

    Reading through the comments, I think someone already said my idea, but make everything as easy as possible.

    I'm just going through the process of getting that nice NEXUS cards, but while I wait, I've been taking steps to speed everything up. It's not just "no checked bag" but I try to to wear a belt, jacket / hoodie, or anything that would require me to "stop everything."

    Another one I'm finding becoming useful, is the location of where I'm staying vs. meetings / airport. Although this isn't always an issue, but it has helped me in the past by scheduling things closer together because the area to cover is less.

    Reply
  • Posted by Crystal H
    Mitch Joel

    I recently started experiementing with same day in/out. If its less than a 2 hr flight, I'm on board with your sage advice!

    In overnight travel, the biggest things that have destressed me as a frequent traveler (and adhering to many of the tips in the comments here):
    - The packing cube for shirts from eagle creek fits 7 dresses with ease.
    -Leave extra space in your liquids ziplock by downsizing every product. The sample size containers Nordstroms cosmetics come in are perfect for a week. Contact lense cases are great for condensing creams too.
    -Always unpack upon arrival and make room for something that reminds me of home. For me, that's my temperpedic travel pillow.
    -Keeping all of my travel itineraries in one place. I use Evernote. In the past I have used TripIt.
    -Staying at hotels that welcome me like I have just come home :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Geno Prussakov
    Mitch Joel

    Regarding that "desire to race back home as quickly as possible": have you noticed how much shorter the way home always is (or at least seems to be)? I certainly have. No matter whether its a 4-hour drive, or a 14-hour flight... the way back home is always so much easier than the way there.

    Reply
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