Chances are if you work in the restoration industry, you or someone within your company travels, and may do so quite a bit. After all, with a plethora of conferences and expos like Contractor Connection, RIA, The Experience, DKI Insights, PLR Expo and many others, the opportunities for continuing education and networking are not in short supply.

Last May, I excitedly went on my first-ever business trip. Last week, I booked a flight for DKI Insights, and I promise I’ll be handling that trip a whole lot different. 

1. Travel light. This was the only trip where I checked a bag, every trip I’ve taken since then has lived within my new, strict “carry-on only” rule. Seriously, flying is so much quicker when you pack just what you need for your quick trip. If you’re flying out on Monday and returning Wednesday, is it really necessary to check a bag? If you don’t check a bag, you can check in online and go right to security. Then, once at your destination, just hail a cab and off you go. No waiting for your luggage to make it to the carousel with hundreds of others from your flight and others. I won’t even get into the likely state of your luggage by the time it’s back in your possession…

2. Keep your essentials packed all the time. Make a point to grab an extra travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, body wash, tooth paste, deodorant, etc. and keep it in its own little travel pouch so you can just grab and go, no extra thought required. I promise you aren’t going to want to have to purchase a small stick of deodorant at the hotel store. You could buy five for the same price at home. Plus, if you buy small –just toss ‘em when you’re done, making more room for any souvenirs you may have picked up on your travels. Plus, consider traveling without anything the hotel will have for you -- like a hair dryer, shampoo, conditioner, etc.

3. Be aware of cell rates. This is a global industry, after all! When I traveled to PLR Expo in Toronto last November, I disabled everything on my iPhone other than the ability to connect to Wi-Fi. Trust me, you don’t want any surprises showing up on your bill. Roaming and out-of-country usage adds up quick. If you really need a phone while out of the country, consider buying or renting a mobile hot spot or changing your plan to include international calling.

4. Ship items to and from shows. Most trade shows will help intercept items you ship to shows ahead of time. Here at R&R, we ship everything for our booth right to the venue, then set it up when we arrive. Plus, when it’s all done, there’s often a form you can fill out to have it all shipped right back to you! So unless you’re driving, save yourself the hassle of trying to fly with all your trade show gear.

5.  Take advantage of rewards programs. No, I’m not talking about airline credit card problems, I just mean good, old fashioned frequent flier or frequent guest programs for airlines and hotels. If you don’t travel very often, it might take a little time to earn enough rewards to get you anywhere, but there’s no reason to not let them add up, right?! These programs are free, and often just require quick online registration which you can do right when you book your ticket. Plus, after a while you might find an airline or hotel chain you prefer, and being part of their rewards program could mean “just because” upgrades or perks from time to time.

6. Be nice. Seriously, just do it. It’s going to make your trip better. Remember, people at the gate counter don’t really control if your flight is delayed or cancelled – they are just the messenger, and if you’re in line waiting to rebook, there’s a good chance one or two people in front of you have already chewed them out. A simple smile and a little bit of understanding for their position will get you further than a snarky attitude.

7. Bring along a tennis ball. I haven’t tried this tip, but found it on Business Insider from a manager with Westin/Le Meridien. He says it’s a great way to keep in-flight soreness at bay. Simply roll it under your feet, thighs, or even just in your hands to help keep muscles loose and relaxed.

8. There’s an app for that. For many airlines, a paper boarding pass is a thing of the past. In many cases, you can download it right to your Passbook or “wallet” on your phone, or access it through the airline company’s app. Also, find a good app for tracking your expenses. My company uses Concur, and it takes me less than 15 minutes to enter in and submit all my expenses – receipts and all – to my boss after a trip. Easy, peasy. Want to take the app track a little further? Here are some recommended by travel gurus:

  • TripAdvisor: Think of it as an abbreviated travel guide. Travelers use TripAdvisor to rank restaurants, hotels, etc. around the world. So if the photos on a hotel’s website look a little too good to be true, check out what others have to say about it before making that non-refundable reservation.
  • TripIt: It’s like traveling with a secretary! Don’t stress shuffling through your inbox for an important email or confirmation about your trip, TripIt will put it all into a single, clear itinerary – in chronological order. The app works by scanning the body of emails for dates and times, then adds them to the calendar. It even helps with navigation.
  • Kayak: This is a personal favorite of mine for booking airfare because it pulls in all the airlines in one place. However, be aware that some airlines (like Southwest) don’t sell tickets through third party sites, and other airlines are trending in the same direction, requiring travelers to book right on their website, not through other sources.
  • Gate Guru: Don’t bother checking our email or big airport boards for flight notifications. Gate Guru will alert you about changes to your flight, and even about crowds at the airport.

9. Don’t forget your chargers! This goes without an explanation. Also, be sure everything is fully juiced the night before you travel.

10. Beat jet lag. Boy, I had traveled through different time zones before, but my first trip to Vegas for RIA last year was quite an experience. I was zonked when I landed, and awake at 3 a.m. Not the best combination for being fresh on my feet! Experts suggest tricking your body into thinking it’s in the new time zone by resetting your watch as soon as you’re on the plane, and only sleep at night at your destination. Plus, try to hold off eating too much until you arrive, and have a proper meal at that time to revive your body. Can’t sleep? Here’s a funny tip I found from American Express: “Step 1: take one Benadryl. Step 2: read The Economist.”

Traveling can be a wonderful perk to any job if you learn how to simplify the process, and enjoy every trip even if it’s just for business.

Do you have a favorite travel tip?? Share it below!