Today, I am flying on my 33rd plane of 2016. The sheer fact that I’ve had enough time to count my planes should tell you how tired I am of flying and how much I attempt to distract myself during take off and turbulence. As a young professional, business trips are a necessary part of my life right now, and they are both a blessing and a curse. So, whether you’re racking up the frequent flyer miles or have just been assigned your first destination meeting, here are some steps you can take to make sure that your travel experience is top notch.
Some Airlines are Just Better
Anyone who flies regularly has had a bad experience with an airline and flight delays. Some of this torture is unavoidable, but if you do have a say in your in-flight experience, choose wisely. If your client or company is paying for the flight, work to find a good deal within your budget, even if the flight isn’t the most convenient time (hello, 6:00 am and red-eyes). You will arrive far more rested if you have the ability to fly on a nice plane with comfy seats than if you are forced to rub shoulders with the sneezing, coughing infant who keeps rolling into your lap. Delta, American, and United offer free in-flight snacks, free carry-ons, better seats, and more variety in their destinations. Though Southwest, Frontier, and Spirit are cheaper on paper, you may end up paying more in hidden baggage fees. If you have a credit card linked to a specific airline, your company might even let you book your own flight on your card and reimburse you, allowing you to get the points.
Your Personal Item is Life
Between the exorbitant bag fees and the fear of lost luggage, I cannot tell you how much I value my ability to carry on a bag. However, even more important than a carry-on is your personal bag. Fill your purse/man-purse with everything you need to survive. Seriously, pack that baby like the armageddon is coming tomorrow. Phone, computer, chargers, basic toiletries, expensive jewelry, in-flight entertainment, a change of clothes (for the coffee spills), and any papers necessary for your work. If all else fails, your personal bag will be the first thing you remember in a bind, so make sure it’s perfect. Oh, and snacks, never forget snacks! They will save you from wasting your money on nasty airport food and using a portion of your precious food allowance if your company has given you one.
Anxiety Be Gone
Even though I’ve been flying since infancy, I am a nervous flyer. I always bring headphones to listen to music (make sure you have Spotify songs downloaded so that they play on airplane mode). The music drowns out the plane noises and crying babies. If you get nauseous, bring Dramamine. Dress in layers so that you can control your own temperature, in case your flight buddy keeps messing with the air switches. If you have a close connecting flight, try to find out the gate and be one of the first off the plane, and don’t forget your personal item!
Use Your Time Wisely
If you’re on a tight schedule, your time on the plane is precious. Instead of nodding off, use your time to study, prep, take notes and plan for the meetings to come. Make an agenda for yourself, so that you don’t feel panicked when you arrive at your destination. Additionally, if you are flying to a cool place and want to sight-see, try to schedule a time to do a few fun things. Often, the flight crew is from the city you’re traveling to, so ask them or fellow passengers for recommendations.
Wake Up Calls & Receipts
If you’re traveling on somebody else’s dime, the worst thing you can do is miss an appointment or forget to track your expenditures. Bring a separate bag or wallet just for your receipts on the trip, and make sure you keep everything until you’re reimbursed. If you have an early meeting or train to catch, ask the hotel for a wake-up call, set out your clothes for the next day, and pack your personal bag with all the necessities.
Adulting in the business world can be a ton of fun if you’re prepared or a big headache if you aren’t. Set yourself up for success by doing the planning beforehand to make your trip stress-free.