Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 29, 2011 7:04 PM

The Best Piece Of Business Travel Advice

I use one particular technique/tactic that makes business travel all that much more palpable.

It's also a technique I rarely see mentioned anywhere. It has nothing to do with the type of luggage to use (but, for the record, you should use either the Eagle Creek Tarmac 22 or the Eagle Creek Traverse Pro 22), how to pack (use the Eagle Creek Pack-It System, how to accumulate air mile points or how to get entry into the lounge. It also has nothing to do with getting through security faster (hint: get a Nexus Card!) or how to best make use of down time, flight delays or cancellations.

It's all about getting home. 

The most frequent question I get asked is how I cope with travelling so much. The truth is that I don't feel like I'm away from home or the Twist Image offices all that much because my frequency of travel is mostly due to my desire to race back home as quickly as possible. There are many instances where I'm gone (back and forth) on the same day and I make a rule to only sleep outside of my own bed for one night (two nights - at the maximum). But, that's not the best piece of business travel advice I can offer you. Those are all both business and personal choices that you have to make. The impetus for my best piece of business travel advice comes from the notion that I want to be home (as much as possible) for my family. So, how does this all come together?...

Check the flights first.

Most people get a request to meet and they immediately accept. Prior to accepting the meeting, I check the airlines to see what my options are first. More often than not, it's possible to get in and out on the same day (without too much rushing). If I have to sleep over in a hotel, I can also organize my meeting time, so that it best suits my family needs first. By checking the airlines, I can then reach back out to the client and ask for a specific meeting time (it's usually a large enough window in the day that it's both possible and acceptable to the client). Yes, I realize that this is sometimes difficult to do (especially if they only have one, specific, time slot available), but it's worth the shot. If you don't ask, you don't get. More often than not, the clients are also understanding (both of the time request and the extra effort that comes from the uncertainty of air travel).

This does not work all of the time.

There are many people who do not like the stress of air travel and would rather be on site a day earlier or have the evening to relax after the meeting. I recognize that this technique may not be optimal for all. On top of that, this advice works best if you do have a higher level of airline status and the ability to brisk through security. Along with having Super Elite status (and trust me, I'm not bragging here... ), both my American Express credit card and Nexus Card allow me to move through security and customs at a very quick pace, and this also makes this technique that much more valuable.

What if it fails?

Flights do get cancelled for many reasons. They are delayed often too. There's no doubt that this technique can pose a problem (so don't do it if it's a life-changing meeting!), but so long as everyone is clear on the up-front about this, people seem to understand if it's a circumstance beyond your control. The only additional caveat to this technique (and the possible downside for others) is that I book the flight out as early as possible in the morning. This way, there is a window and/or options should there be a delay or cancellation. I, obviously, don't use this technique one hundred percent of the time. It is situational. That being said, I find that checking flights first - before confirming the meeting time - has changed my life. It has made my schedule that much more flexible and finds me in a position where - at the very least - I'm either dropping the kids off at school if I can't see them at night or reading stories and putting them to bed in the evening if I'm out in the early morning.

What's the best piece of business travel advice that you have?

By Mitch Joel