Airport and Business Travel Hacks
Business Travel Hacks, Tips and Tricks
We know that our more frequent business travellers have got their airport and travel routine down to a fine art, but even the most experienced flyers can sometimes find themselves on the hop, especially when they're so focussed on their next business meeting, rather than the journey itself.
But of course it can pay dividends to do a little advance planning and find ways to hit the ground running and travel more efficiently. So with that in mind, here is a bumper post compiling some of our favourite hacks, tips and tricks for effective business travel.
Get in the Fast Lane at the Airport
Some non-UK / non EU passport holders travelling frequently to the UK can apply for the ‘Registered Traveller Service’ to speed up entering the UK. You can currently use the service at these airports:
Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, London City, Luton, Manchester and Stansted airports.
It also applies if you’re coming from the Continent on Eurostar services, available at Brussels, Lille and Paris terminals.
Plus this link has some useful information to help prepare inbound travellers coming through UK airport border controls, especially at busy times of the year.
Money Saving Travel Tips
Of course the team at CTM knows a thing or two about how to get maximum value from your travel spend. Our Operations Manager Tony Howes has the following advice:
For long haul flights include a minimum Saturday night stay away. On busy short haul routes, such as Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt, try to avoid peak time travel between 7 to 9am and 5 to 7pm. Also on these routes, try to avoid travelling on Mondays and Fridays.
Always try and book as far in advance as possible – fares rarely go down, they usually just keep going up.
If you want flexibility, book a fare that allows you to change for a fee rather than the fully flexible fare – BA’s cheapest fare to JFK is £154 which you can change for £150 subject to availability and the fare where you can change for free is £2116, which means in theory you could buy the cheap fare and pay to change 13 times and it would still work out cheaper!
Always consider indirect flights, they may not take as long as you think – the minimum connecting time at Munich for example is just 35 minutes.
Try not to drink too much alcohol when flying – the effects are enhanced at altitude.
Check the limitations for carry-on items i.e. toothpaste , aftershave etc – purchase at location instead.
Take cash only for tipping and taxis – for everything else, use your credit card.
Depending on where you’re going, it might be worth packing steritabs, or else just drink bottled water.
Don’t carry anything for anyone else ever.
Enrol in the frequent flyer programme of the airline you are flying with.
Packing & Dressing for Business Travel
Our super-organsied and efficient Commercial Director Kylie Mather has the following tips to share:
‘I always swear by using packing bags inside my case to separate my clothes and find things more easily. You could also roll clothes, instead of laying them flat to maximise space in your case. Plus a separate laundry bag to keep worn clothes in is always a good idea. It avoids any awkwardness if your bag is searched, you know exactly where your underwear is, especially if you only have a carry on! I've found a big ziplock bag handy for dirty clothes.
Remember to pack a spare battery and/or a power pack for longer flights.
I also plan my outfits in advance and take photos of them, then pack the outfits together for speed on arrival.
For toiletries, I keep a separate mini washbag handy with all of the essentials in it, so that I can just grab it and go.
I also like to keep a few healthy snack bars or packets of nuts with me when travelling to avoid any issues - particularly low cost carriers running out of food on later flights, which has been known to happen. Travel green and pack your own refillable water bottle if you can. Stay healthy and make the most of layovers by walking as much as you can around the airport.
I always remember to pre-download some books/films/music onto my devices before I set off in case the wi-fi at the airport or on the flight is poor or non-existent. '
Question and answer site Quora is always a goldmine of useful insights. Quora user Hachi Ko has this to say about travel insurance, clothing and smart luggage options.
‘If you currently purchase travel insurance for your trips, learn how to ditch it by planning your trips better, knowing the rules, and being prepared. The truth about travel insurance is that it covers very little that isn’t already covered by law and regulation. Know your rights with the airlines and be prepared to assert them. The exception to this is medical insurance, but you may already be covered internationally by your current health insurance, or you may be able to purchase an international addition to your current policy for little cost.’
Get a high-quality bag. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to be durable and of excellent quality. I often buy bags on eBay, purchasing last year’s model of TravelPro, Tumi etc. Many sellers on eBay sell last year’s stock for 50% off or even cheaper, just to get rid of it. Travel sites like eBags also run close-out sales. Last year’s model is just as good as this year’s.
Always travel with a nice coat or jacket, appropriate to the climate you’ll be visiting, and put anything you may need immediately or can’t afford to lose in the pockets. Other immediate items go in your “personal item”. Everything else goes in your carry-on. On the plane your coat is your blanket, or it can be rolled into a pillow. I have two different weights of North Face jackets… one for warmth and a lighter one just for rain.’
Arfan Qureshi, the CEO of brand-new business networking app GeoBiz has these tips for us:
'Be prepared. It probably seems simple enough, but this really is the best thing that you can do. Have all your relevant visas and travel docs in place and to hand. It’s always a good idea to picture every step of your journey in your mind the day before you leave.
Don’t rely on your memory, write a checklist for the day of travel of things not to forget.
Use the airline’s own app to check in in advance. This will save you a lot of time queuing at the airport. Arrive early, the earlier you are the more chance that you will have less of a queue.
Make use of the business lounge if you can. These places are generally a lot more calming than the hustle and bustle of the average busy airport. Plus they usually offer free wifi and spaces where you can plug in your devices and catch up on some work too. Airport lounges aren't reserved exclusively for those travellling in business class either. You might now know that you can buy them from ebay from around £20.
Collect air miles. You can get quite a lot with air miles sometimes - you can even use them for free personal holidays and hundreds of other products and services.
Download and use the GeoBiz app while you wait. You never know who will be around you at an airport! By using the GeoBiz app you can easily discover them by swiping on their profiles and setting a radius to discover profiles. Your next big business deal could just happen by an introduction at the airport, you never know.'
Expert Currency Tips
Here are some further currency tips from Koko Sarkari, CEO of International Currency Exchange (ICE)
Plan ahead and purchase early
With everything from Brexit negotiations to the General Election causing fluctuations in the exchange rate, it’s best to plan ahead to get the best rates. Start purchasing at least half of your currency early and the other half nearer the travel date to ensure whichever way the rate goes, you will have benefited from the higher exchange rate on at least half of your money.
If you don’t want to purchase your currency early be sure to keep your eye on rates so that when they do improve, you can make sure you get a good deal. It’s also best to be aware of the potential for overnight rate changes. If you want a specific rate guaranteed, make sure you order the same day as you’ve spotted the deal.
With hundreds of currency providers available, you will never be short of choice, so ensuring you shop around to get the best deal is essential. Be sure you weigh up your options–do you want a convenient store location or do you want to take advantage of the best deals available online? Most foreign exchange (FX) providers offer a Click & Collect service, meaning you can take advantage of online rates with the convenience of collecting in-store or at the airport, where exchange rates can often be a lot higher.
Get a buyback guarantee when you purchase your currency
Whether you choose to exchange early or nearer the time, purchasing a ‘buyback guarantee’ will cover you should the rates change while you’re away. This ensures you will be able to return any excess currency at the same rate you bought it for, but be aware that a few foreign currency exchange providers will charge you for this service.
Don’t rely on just one payment method
Remember, whilst the exchange rate may be forecast to go down, it might also improve while you are away. This is why a ‘split purse’ approach, making the most of both foreign currency notes and a credit or debit card, can be so useful. Use your card to pay for purchases when rates are good, and cash when bad.
Buy online for better rates
With some currency providers you can side-step commission fees by shopping online, putting more money back in your pocket for another day. Many will have a Click & Collect facility you can take advantage of which will allow you to buy your currency online at a better rate and pick up in your local branch or at the airport.
Got Business Travel Tips for Us?
How about you? What other travel hacks, tips and tricks would you add to this list? Let us know via twitter and we'll gladly share the best ones with our growing network of regular business travellers.