Top 7 Lifehacks for the Traveling Consultant
Whether you love it or hate it, traveling is a big part of any consultants’ lifestyle. You may be traveling occasionally to client sites or more frequently – whichever it is, this short guide will help make that experience more streamlined and easier to manage. Here are my essential tips for the traveling consultant.
1. Save Time at Security Checkpoints
One of the most unpredictable aspects of traveling, other than weather and flight delays, is the line at the airport security checkpoint. Sometimes you’re rushing last minute to get to the airport and every second counts as that queue moves slowly in front of you. There are some remedies though. TSA Pre ®, without a doubt, has fewer queues during busy periods than the regular line. Not only are queues shorter, but going through the checkpoint is also simpler – you don’t have to worry about having odd or smelly socks because you can leave your shoes on and there’s less chance of your trousers falling down because you can leave that belt on. You can also leave the laptop in your bag and keep your light jacket on. TSA still may conduct additional screening if anything comes up on the body or metal scanners so do still keep that in mind. Currently, membership is $85 and is good for five years. I recommend applying online and finding a center near you for an appointment that you can visit in your own time.
2. Be Clear
If you travel more frequently, I would also highly suggest signing up for Clear. Clear is available at select airports and further expedites your security screening. Paired with TSA Pre clearance, you can be through security in literally a few minutes. Clear representatives will meet you at the entrance of the checkpoint, take you to a computer terminal, verify your identity via your fingerprints (handy if you forget your ID like I have done a couple of times) and then take you to the front of the TSA Pre queue. It is very quick and I have yet to come across any queue in Clear lanes. They currently have just over 20 airports that they are in and include the major ones such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and San Francisco. Membership is a little more expensive at $179, but you can sign up for a trial and find deals with travel credit cards. Delta has some pretty good deals for Clear if you are a SkyMiles member.
3. Pack Light & Carry On
The last thing you want to do at the end of a long flight the night before you need to be up early in the morning to visit your client is to wait around at the carousel for your bag to come through. That’s why packing light and smart is the best way to go. Look for small cases that are carry-on approved and avoid checking in any bags. For frequent travelers, have a toiletries bag that stays in your carry-on even if you’re not using it. It helps you avoid forgetting your toothbrush and other essentials.
4. Maximize Your Perks
Whether it’s hotels, flights or car rental, sticking with the same company or group can really work in your favor. Companies reward loyalty so make sure you sign up for rewards for each company and credit cards issued by those companies will also help you gain extra rewards and points and expedite your climb to a higher status.
5. Manage Those Expenses
Every company has their own policy when it comes to expenses – and depending on your client, you may or may not need receipts for every purchase, regardless of the amount. As a good discipline, regardless of their policies, always save your receipts. My pockets always used to get full of receipts and the ink quickly fades on them too, so I like to use an app on my phone that takes a photo of my receipts and saves them as a PDF. This helps me refer to them later if I need them wherever I am as long as I have my mobile device. For hotels, flights and cars, creating an account on the companies’ website means you don’t need paper receipts at all because you can access your past receipts online at any time. Use a credit card, where possible, even for small transactions. This also helps you keep a track of expenses for you to refer to later as well as helping you accumulate credit card reward points.
6. Stay Juiced Up
If you’re like me, you like using mobile boarding passes at the gate rather than having to deal with printing them out and then forgetting them at home. Chances are, you’re less likely to leave your phone at home than a piece of paper. That’s why it’s important to make sure your phone is not only fully charged, but that you also have a backup plan. External battery packs can charge your phone quickly should you need it and are very inexpensive nowadays with a light, low form factor. Always keep one charged and in your laptop bag should the need arise. If your battery does die and you’re at the airport without a printed boarding pass, don’t worry – simply visit any counter for your airline and they can issue you a printed boarding pass normally without charge. Airports do also have designated charging areas but facilities differ from one airport to the other and can sometimes be all used up by other waiting travelers.
For hotels, try keeping an extra-long phone charging cable. I have been to many hotels where there’s no nearby power or USB outlet to my bed to be able to charge my devices during the night. I like having my phone nearby as I use it for my morning wake-up alarm and an extra-long cable gives me a bit more flexibility.
7. Stay Comfortable
You will enjoy traveling more if you are comfortable. Determine what would make you comfortable not only in flight but for your entire trip. If I have a red-eye (over-night) flight, I like to carry a comfortable eye mask and neck pillow with me so I can sleep better on the plane. I also keep a set of earplugs with me as well, but noise-canceling headphones playing some light music also helps. If you’re staying a few nights at a hotel, consider keeping an HDMI cable with you. Most hotel TV’s nowadays have the ability to connect a HDMI device to it – so I can connect to the hotel Wi-Fi, load up Netflix and watch my own choice of shows rather than re-runs of Friends or Seinfeld.
I hope some of these tips help you make the most out of traveling. Don’t forget to take time out to explore new towns and cities you visit, try out the local cuisine and see famous landmarks. Make the most out of every trip and don’t forget to pack that toothbrush.
The following thoughts, intentions, strategies and/or solutions are those of the blog authors and do not represent the position of anyone other than the authors.