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By Eric Rosen
October 09, 2019
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If you’re an occasional flier, you might think business travel is all about cocktails in the airline lounge, first-class upgrades, luxurious hotel suites, and lavish dinners paid for with limitless expense accounts. The reality of business travel, however, is that it is tedious, stressful, and time-consuming — all of which can make meeting deadlines and doing deals that much more difficult.

Here are five tips every business traveler can use to make their work trips better.

Get Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck).

The single best way to improve your airport experience is to join one of the government’s known traveler programs. Participating in TSA PreCheck gets you access to expedited security screening lines that cut wait times down to five minutes or under for over 90% of travelers who join. Global Entry will speed you through customs and immigration checkpoints when reentering the U.S. from abroad. 

Most folks who join Global Entry also get TSA PreCheck automatically, so you’re better off just applying for it instead. Over a dozen credit cards will reimburse you for the cost of applying for either program ($85 for PreCheck, $100 for Global Entry), including The Platinum Card from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. 

You might also consider joining CLEAR, which is a biometric identification service that lets you skip to the head of the security line. It costs $179 per year, but certain airline elites get discounts on membership.

Pack right, pack light.

Nothing will slow you down more than checking a bag. You have to arrive at the airport before the cutoff window for your flight, and can end up waiting at the baggage carousel for an hour after you land, just hoping your luggage actually shows up. Save yourself time by going carry-on only

There are plenty of great bags that help you organize your belongings, wrinkle-resistant fabrics that still look fresh even after days of being crumpled up in your bag, plus compact yet comfortable shoes that are functional enough to sprint through an airport but stylish enough to wear out to a business dinner.

Loyalty matters.

Focusing your travel with one particular airline and hotel group can help you earn elite status and benefits like priority check-in, seat selection, and boarding when you fly, or room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, and late checkout during stays. 

Think about which airlines fly where you travel most and which hotels have properties in the destinations you visit often, and then concentrate your activity with them. That way, you can also put all the miles and points you rack up on flights and stays for work toward redeeming rewards for a personal vacation somewhere fabulous

Carry the right credit card.

Whether you want to earn airline miles, hotel points, or cash back, there are a lot of reasons to get a business credit card for your work travel. Using one helps keep your professional and personal expenses separate. Some, like Chase’s Ink Business Preferred, earn bonus points specifically on travel expenses and work purchases like office supplies and telecommunications. It also extends primary insurance on car rentals. 

Still others, like The Business Platinum Card from American Express, confer premium perks like access to over 1,200 airport lounges around the world plus significant discounts on business- and first-class airfares.

Keep up healthy habits.

Traveling frequently makes it hard to stay healthy on the road. You’re constantly surrounded by fellow (germy) travelers packing airports and planes, crammed into tiny seats for hours at a time, dealing with jet lag and sleep deprivation, and struggling to find healthy meal options, let alone a decent hotel gym. But there are solutions for every step. 

Don’t be afraid to pull a Naomi Campbell and wipe down every surface of your seat with disinfectant. Pick up a healthy meal before you board the plane rather than relying on airline catering. And consider joining a program like Class Pass, which will get you into gyms and fitness classes wherever you happen to be traveling.