Sunday, May 31, 2009

10 Quick Tips to Make Business Travel Easier

I travel a fair bit in my job (73k miles according to TripIt), so I thought a few of the following tips might be helpful for those of you just starting to get into the same routine for my Monday productivity article:

1. Forward your agenda to TripIt. I love TripIt. It is particularly good, I've found, when you're traveling overseas and your very competent travel assistant has to book tickets through an external agency. But I also love how easy it makes to share travel plans. I have my Tripit calendar added to my wife's Google Calendar so that she knows where I am at any point in time. This helps her get a hold of me in the event that something were to happen while I was away (particularly, when I'm overseas).

2. Go to your itinerary on TripIt 24 hours before to print off your e-ticket. Use their "Get seating advice" to find the best seat on the plane. This will cut your airport wait down AND potentially make you more comfortable. Make sure you have your frequent flyer number on the e-ticket.

3. Keep a standard voicemail out-of-office notification script written out in an email, Evernote or a file on your computer that's easy to get to. The day before you leave, record your message. I use this script:

Hi, you've reached Jamie at x. I will be away for the next x days on business, returning the morning of x. If you have any urgent matters, please contact x at x regarding x issues or x at x regarding x issues. Otherwise, leave your name and number after the tone and I will get back to you when I return. Thank you.

I use Google Voice and keep a message with a return for each day of the week, which works superbly well. This basically takes my out-of-office notification time down to zero.

4. Book your cab with RideCharge. RideCharge will automatically notify you as your cab gets closer. It will allow you to pay your fare via your mobile phone which for some reason saves me at least 3 minutes on validation with most of my local cab companies. Finally, it provides you with an e-Receipt for expenses. (If TripIt got together with RideCharge for automatic cab booking options, they would be super-powerful... just my quick plug.) The extra $1.50 in fare for e-payment is to me a savings given time loss reductions from expense processing and validation.

5. Wear slip-on shoes. Shoe laces are for the TSA-inept. Don't know what I mean? Travel on a Friday in the summer and watch the running shoe crowd hold up the line for 15 minutes.

6. Put your keys and coins in your briefcase / computer bag as soon as you get in the cab. This will reduce time in the security line.

7. Keep a separate envelope for travel receipts. My company uses Concur for expense submission. I know that it gets some bad press, but I have to tell you that it beats the heck out of everything I've used before. So long as you register all of your frequent flyer, hotel and rental car club memberships, MOST of your expenses can be automatically handled by Concur. For those of you not so lucky to use Concur, the separate travel receipt envelope becomes even more essential. I have also tried Shoeboxed to reduce expense processing time and used their envelope to carry my receipts. In this case, I put all the receipts in my Shoeboxed envelope and drop it in my mailbox as soon as I arrive back at my house. Unfortunately, though I love the service, I am on a fiscal diet right now. Either way, put your receipts in your envelope as soon as you get them.

8. Pre-program your Blackberry (use Notes in Outlook) or other smart phone with all of your frequent flyer, hotel and rental car membership numbers. Leave your cards at home. Unless you have some sort of attachment to having a Costanza wallet, that is.

9. Keep a list in Evernote of "Things to do when in..." Use City, State and Country as tags. Then start hoarding restaurant, hotel and sightseeing tips. I actually find that airline magazines have some great restaurant tips, for example. And whenever I'm in a town and out with one of my reps, I'll develop a list of local digs. Unfortunately, this travel tip requires a little bit of time investment, but has good long-term payoff. By the way, I put good airport restaurants in my Evernote list to. (Try Cantina Laredo in DFW Terminal D, for example.)

10. If you really become an avid traveler, get a Zuca Pro Complete Set with Black Insert Bag, Black Travel Cover and Pro Silver Frame. I love this thing more than I can say. It is like having a portable dresser. It requires that you spend some time learning how to properly pack your clothes. It also gets weird looks sometimes (a few weeks ago, I got pulled off the plane because they thought it was dangerous.. yes, seriously). But it makes you wickedly organized and fast when you're at your destination.

By the way, I also use Remember the Milk. To make all of the above much easier, I have put a list of the above tasks, along with my packing list, into an email that I send to my Remember the Milk import email address when I need to go traveling. I use a separate list in RTM to send it to (I call mine "Quick Lists") to enable rapid entry of due dates. I delete irrelevant tasks before sending and the way I formatted it also allows the due date entry to be fast using "Multiple edit". In case you're interested, I put it as a text file in docstoc her:

Travel Routine

Hope that helps and happy traveling!

No comments:

Post a Comment