Advice for new frequent business traveler?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by CarolinaCy, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. CarolinaCy

    CarolinaCy Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    So I have accepted a new position at work where I will be traveling pretty much every week. Since I haven't traveled much for work in the past, looking for some advice/tips from those who travel often for work. Some details:

    1) Have to book all travel through company's online travel service using company issued credit card
    2) Live in Chicago burbs, so will be flying out of either airport
    3) Will travel to same location for ~3 months, then on to next location - repeat

    I assume I'll try to book air, car and hotel with same provider as much as possible to build points/miles. What else can others think of that would be helpful? Thanks in advance.
  2. Cycsk

    Cycsk Well-Known Member

    Aug 17, 2009
    Join the club of your preferred airline so that you can get access to their private lounge. Well worth it for those long delays. Comfortable, quiet surroundings and only other pro travelers there. Once you experience it, you will cringe when you have to slum it at an airport without a private lounge.
  3. Mr Janny

    Mr Janny Welcome to the Office of Secret Intelligence
    Staff Member Bookie

    Mar 27, 2006
    Yep, try to stick with the same airline if possible, same family of hotels, same rental car place. United is a good bet, if you'll be flying out of O'Hare. O'Hare has a reputation for being a bad airport. From my experience, it's hard to disagree, but sometimes I wonder if it's because I was always flying on little puddle jumper flights to and from Des Moines. It might be better for other destinations.

    Learn to pack light. Even if your work is paying for your expenses, avoiding baggage handling and going with a carry-on only is much better. Save you a ton of time.
  4. Mr Janny

    Mr Janny Welcome to the Office of Secret Intelligence
    Staff Member Bookie

    Mar 27, 2006
    United's red carpet lounge is overrated. The best part is the agents inside the club. They never have lines, and you can change your flights a lot easier. Other than that, big whoop.
  5. JP4CY

    JP4CY Well-Known Member

    Dec 19, 2008
    Do you use the company credit card for everything on the road, or do you expense yours?
    There are a lot of companies that give great rewards on fuel, food, etc.
  6. nj829

    nj829 Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    Northwest Arkansas
    Hilton's frequent stay program Hilton Honors lets you gain points and airline miles on every stay.

    Flyertalk is a great forum for research.

    Find a good hotel in each town and stay at it each time, once you become a regular you will be more likely to get freebies or not be walked.

    Being walked from a hotel isn't a bad deal. Typically you can get some free points from it if you complain to them afterwards.
  7. CyJack13

    CyJack13 Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2010
    The earlier the flight, the better, especially if you're flying out of O'Hare.
  8. intrepid27

    intrepid27 Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Executive Recruiter - Ag
    Marion, IA
    Invest in good luggage and travel smart clothes. Socks and underwear that dry overnight, wrinkle free shirts, pants, etc.
  9. Angie

    Angie square root(31) = 5.56776436
    Staff Member

    Mar 27, 2006
    #9 Angie, Jun 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
    If possible, try and look for extended stay hotels or places where you can reliably get a fridge/microwave. It's a lot cheaper to get some food to keep at the hotel rather than go out to eat every night, even if you're given a per diem.

    Obviously join the hotel/airline frequency clubs. If you're using Hertz for your car most of the time, I'd really recommend the #1 club. Unlike the airline priority clubs, which I don't see as having a ton of practical perks, it's awesome to just be able to get to the rental pickup, see your name on a board, get in your car and go - much better than waiting in a long line to get your car.
  10. nfrine

    nfrine Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2006
    The worst reward program is one that gives you the opportunity to fly even more :). Having traveled extensively over the years, the last thing I want to do is to go to an airport and spend more time there. Flying has become a real chore with all the changes in the last eight or ten years. Good luck and be sure not to let the job overtake your family life.
  11. F5cy

    F5cy Well-Known Member

    May 1, 2011
    Washington, D.C.
    How many miles do you anticipate flying? There are some certain levels of flight miles for different programs that would be good to compare in advance so you can see which airline frequent flier program is best for you. Of course you may not have much of a choice if flying into smaller cities. Check forums. Really good advice there

  12. jbhtexas

    jbhtexas Well-Known Member

    Oct 20, 2006
    Arlington, TX
    #12 jbhtexas, Jun 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
    A few things I've noticed about carry-ons as of late...

    1) Airlines are getting more strict about the size, and on a couple of recent flights I've been on the agents were checking the size of all questionable bags. If the bag didn't fit in the bag gauge, it got tagged. And in at least a couple of cases, where somebody was trying to carry on a clearly oversized bag, they got charged a bag check fee. Not a pleasant scene, but fully warranted IMO.

    2) Overhead space usually fills up if the flight is close to full. If your travel service can't get you in an early boarding zone, there probably won't be room for your carry on, and it will get tagged at the door.

    3) If you need to use your computer on the flight, make sure your computer bag fits under the seat. See (2) above. I've got a Solo bag that has tons of room, yet has fit under every seat so far, including puddle jumpers.

    4) Some airlines (here's looking at you US Airways) are dreadful about getting your tagged carry-ons back up to the jetway in a timely manner. In a recent flight where my wife and I had a connection in Phoenix, we sat 30 minutes waiting for the gate, and then 20 minute in the jetway waiting for the checked carry-on to be brought up. We had to run across the airport to make the next flight. Same issue with the carry-on on the return trip connection in Phoenix.

    Not related to carry-ons, but it seems that there is a lot more waiting for gates after landing now, especially at ORD. You might consider this if having to make connections.

    You might also consider applying for the TSA Pre-Check program. At the security checkpoint, you don't have to remove belt, shoes, coat and laptop from your carry-on, and the Pre-Check lines are often shorter.

    Have fun!
  13. cyeah

    cyeah Well-Known Member

    May 23, 2006
    Director of Operations
    Houston, TX
    Be nice and memorable to gate agents and flight attendants. When I flew a lot, especially through the same airports I would befriend the crews and agents on the ground to the point where we were on a true first name, how are the kids basis. The reason is if I needed things they usually were more helpful. I also have FAs that would grab me out of an economy seat and place me in first just based on friendliness.

    If you are on a per diem get a room with a fridge and microwave and if possible stove. Get the free breakfast as well. I could bank about $100 per week in excess per diem or more a lot of the time.
  14. dtlantz

    dtlantz Member

    Apr 10, 2006
    Delta, Avis, and Marriott guy here.

    Invest in the TSA pre-check ASAP. Saves a lot of time. Air travel is the worst.
  15. klamath632

    klamath632 Well-Known Member

    Nov 19, 2011
    Get familiar with your expense reporting system. Learn what to do to make it as hassle-free as possible. Get organized with your receipts. You're going to have to spend time filing expense reports, might as well make it as simple as possible.
  16. snowcraig2.0

    snowcraig2.0 Well-Known Member

    Nov 2, 2007
    Cedar Rapids, IA
  17. Angie

    Angie square root(31) = 5.56776436
    Staff Member

    Mar 27, 2006
    That's a really good piece of advice. I had one of those plastic folder things that had separate slots. I'd have one slot that I used for each day, since we had to file by the day of the trip - conversely, if you have to itemize by type of expense, you could use each slot for the different receipt types (gas/car, food, etc.).
  18. BKLYNCyclone

    BKLYNCyclone Well-Known Member

    Sep 16, 2007
    Twin Cities, MN
    I'd do Delta, but they are too expensive ($1000 average for MSP-NYC) compared to other tickets... Instead, I end up flying Sun Country, which works well since I only fly MSP-JFK anyway, and when I fly personally, I still look for the cheapest tickets which Sun Country usually has. In any case, get the TSA pre-check. Delta does it automatically for some levels I believe, but there are 3rd parties that you can get registered with. Saves a ton of time at big airports. Nice not to have to take off shoes, belt, etc.

    Finally, if you travel with a laptop, get a bag that the laptop folds out in so that you don't have to take it out and put it in a bin. Saves a ton of time. Get ready to start hating on people who don't travel every week/month... They hold up the line, a lot.
  19. jsb

    jsb Well-Known Member

    Mar 7, 2008
    Flying out of Chicago will probably enable you to pick an airline and mostly use them. I have to fly out of Des Moines, so the cheaper fare is almost a different airline, so I can't do that.

    Some tips:

    1. I keep two sets of toiletries, one of which is always in my suitcase. So I never have to grab shampoo, toothbrush, contact stuff or makeup when I am packing. It eliminates the chance to forget something.

    2. Know hotel reward points. I prefer Marriott. I like staying at Residence Inns, but you get the least amount of points with those. Residence Inns provide meals at night usually 3 or 4 nights per week. I'm on a per diem (and I get to keep what I don't spend), so I often use them. Most of the meals are not great (but not terrible either). But every once in a while you run across a gem. For example the Residence Inn at the Plaza in Kansas City has a chef that prepares food that kind of beats actual restaurants.

    3. Invest in good luggage. But only to the point where you won't be upset when you have to replace it. Airlines beat the **** out of your luggage.

    4. Know your companies reimbursement policies and take advantage of everything. For example, I get mileage for the person that drops me off and picks me up at the airport. I can claim the round trip for the person each time. Easy to forget. And I claim the mileage to and from the airport if I park there.

    5. Watch the movie Up in the Air!

    6. Get in to a routine at the hotels. Unless I work out the first night, I don't work out the rest of the week. I don't travel a lot anymore (knock on wood!), but when I did I wanted to work out. Unpack your stuff.
  20. Cycsk

    Cycsk Well-Known Member

    Aug 17, 2009

    Good point about the agents in the club lounges. They are usually much more helpful than the gate agents and even the regular Customer Service agents. However, I would much rather sit in a limited access lounge during a four hour delay than out at the crowded, cranky gate area. Free beer, better TVs. Yeah, I prefer the United Club.

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