As pandemic restrictions ease, business travel has returned. Flying is still the preferred mode of transport for most long-distance business trips, particularly for trips over 500 miles.
During the peak summer vacation months, traveling for business can be difficult; airports are packed, roads have traffic, and the heat makes everything more challenging and uncomfortable.
Summer travel doesn’t have to be a hassle. A solid plan is a key to stress-free summer business travel. Bring along a few comforts from home, like your favorite travel mug or reusable water bottle, and use an app like TripIt to organize all your travel emails into a single itinerary for ease of use.
Beyond using travel apps, signing up for loyalty programs, and using lounges to get some work done during layovers, you can try these other great tips to make the most of your business travel this summer.
1. Arrive Early
Last-minute plans can make summer business travel extremely stressful. If you are flying, plan as far in the future as possible to make sure you have the seats you want on the flights you want.
You should arrive at least three hours before your meeting starts, and longer if possible. Anytime shorter than that risks delays. Try to arrive the day before if possible so that you are well-rested and ready for work the next morning.
2. Plan Your Route for Maximum Efficiency
When booking flights, plan your route as efficiently as possible. Remember, non-stop flights and direct flights are not the same thing. Non-stop flights go between two points with no stops in between, direct flights use the same plane but may stop along the way to refuel or add more passengers.
Direct flights are subject to more delays and issues than non-stop flights; pick the non-stop option whenever possible.
If you have to transfer flights, choose the transfer airport with the fewest average delays. The major hub with the most delays is Newark Liberty International, where a full quarter of flights are delayed on average, whereas the least delayed is Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where only 12% of flights are delayed.
3. Avoid Peak Times
Crowded airports are the biggest headache for summer business travelers. The best way to deal with them is to avoid them. Airports are most crowded from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you can book flights that depart before or after those times, it will be an easier, less stressful experience.
One of the best tips is to take a flight in the late evening, around 9:30 p.m., for a business meeting the next day, but avoid the last flight of the day in case of cancellation. That way, you avoid crowds at the airports, arrive at your destination 12 to 24 hours before your meeting, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up the next day ready to take on the world.
4. Prevent Jet Lag
Traveling can be exhausting, and jet lag can hurt your productivity and work performance. Jet lag isn’t just for intercontinental travel; even a coast-to-coast trip can mess with your internal clock and leave you groggy for a few days.
The best way to avoid jet lag is to prepare. Sleep extra hours in the week leading up to your departure and, if possible, begin to sleep a full eight hours on your destination’s time a few days before you leave. Do not drink alcohol the day before your flight, and reduce the blue LED lights from computer screens and phones after sunset. This helps your body acclimatize to your new time zone, and you will be well-rested for work.
5. Get Upgraded
Tickets come in several varieties, even those within the same class. It is possible to purchase a ticket that significantly increases your chance of getting upgraded at check-in.
If you buy a full-fare ticket, your upgrade chances will be higher. A full-fare ticket costs the standard amount set by the airline, sometimes called the rack rate, with no discounts. This ticket is denoted by Y or B in the fare code and often costs more.
However, if you request an upgrade at least 24 hours in advance and there is space available, you will get moved up to a better class.
6. Pack Light
One of the great advantages of summer travel is packing summer clothes. Lighter clothes mean smaller bags. A great way to save time and money on your trip is to use only a carry-on bag.
Checked bags can take time to appear on the baggage carousel, or worse: They can disappear in transit. Summer clothes allow you to only bring a carry-on bag with everything you need for your meeting, clothes, and corporate gifts for clients.
The average dimensions for a carry-on bag are 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall, and the weight limit runs between 15 and 36 lbs. Check your airline’s size and weight requirements for carry-ons and invest in a suitcase that meets the requirements.
7. Dress for Success
Traveling in the summer is an opportunity to dress well and comfortably. If you are on a business trip, wear business casual on the plane. Studies have shown that airlines give more upgrades to well-dressed passengers.
Having the right kind of business casual is crucial for comfort while traveling. Having summer outdoor swag will make your flight more enjoyable and fashionable. Consider buying company-branded hats or polos to wear on flights for comfort, class, and brand awareness.
8. Work on the Plane
Your flight time doesn’t need to be wasted. Many airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi. First and Business class passengers usually get the service for free. In economy, a 1-hour pass costs $7 to $10 on average or $15 to $25 for the whole day. Monthly plans for frequent flyers run $49.99 on average and can be an excellent option for frequent travelers.
Paying for inflight Wi-Fi is well worth it. Your tray table becomes your desk, and those hours in the air can be used productively just as if you were in the office.
9. Have an Arrival Plan
Arriving at an airport at the height of the travel season can be a hectic, stressful experience. Decide on your ground transportation in advance, either by arranging an airport shuttle, hiring a car, or scheduling an airport taxi to be waiting for you when you arrive.
If you are going to use a rideshare app, check an airport map before you land to know the particular rules and the location of the pickup zone.
Read more: How to Reduce Your Monthly Travel Costs
10. Summer Business Travel Can Be Easy
During the crowded summer vacation months, prior planning and extra preparation are necessary for hassle-free business travel. To help you survive the busy summer travel season, don’t forget to take a little time for some biz cation by extending your trip into a leisure trip when possible.