5 travel hacks: How to maximize business travel

By Stephen Thomas on October 23, 2015

The day will come for most of us in technology when we have to pack our bags and head to the airport for a work trip. No matter how much or how little you travel, the trip is always easier when you show up prepared. Let’s take a look at some simple travel hacks to help your next business trip move along as smoothly as possible.

1. Hack your seat

Start off by finding your airline seat layout using a site like SeatGuru. You enter in your airline, flight number and date, and the app displays your seat map. It tells you the location of best and worst seats on the plane based on user reviews. Keep in mind that some airlines might charge you for prime seats. It also outlined which seats, if any, have in-seat power and whether or not the plane has Internet. After locating your desired seats, you can setup free Seat Alerts on ExpertFlyer to receive an email or text when that seat opens up. As departure gets closer it’s amazing how many seats can open up. If you want to change your seat, just go online or call the airline. This can greatly reduce your chances of getting stuck in those horrible middle seats.

2. Hack your pack

Almost everyone today has a smartphone, but what about a smart suitcase? Planet Traveler is about to release Space Case 1 in both a carry on and checked size. It features a global GPS tracker, built in scale, Bluetooth speaker, and USB Power, among other useful tools. Next time the airline loses your bag, you can tell them exactly where it is and even show them on a map on your smartphone. Get more details on Indiegogo.

3. Hack your style

Another crowd-sourced invention is the Travel Jacket. This jacket will turn any flight into the best ever, complete with neck pillow, eye mask, drink pocket and 12 other features. This project has raised almost $10,000,000 to date. The demo video shows off all the features of this truly amazing travel necessity. Get more details and watch the demo video on Indiegogo.

4. Hack your Internet

GoGo offers in-flight Internet on 11 major airlines including Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta and United. However, in-flight Internet isn’t always the best; one hour in and suddenly your connection speed drops significantly. It turns out while GoGo offers unlimited Internet it also throttles your connection under a number of conditions. To avoid throttling you can keep your downloads under 10 to 30 MB per hour and uploads under 5 to 10 MB per hour, but working with those low thresholds isn’t always doable. Tips to lower your bandwidth include closing all file syncing and backup programs like Dropbox or Carbonite, work with Outlook in Offline mode whenever possible, sign off of messenger, and ensure Windows or other program updates are not running.

On the plus side the FFA has recently approved GoGo’s next generation Internet offering speeds up to 20 times faster than they are today. This should start to become available next year and will hopefully raise throttling limits.

5. Hack the lines

If there’s one thing airports are known for, it’s the incredibly long and frustrating lines. The best way to beat the lines at check-in is to gain status through the airlines loyalty program, which allows you to use the premium check-in lines. This takes time to accomplish and most people don’t travel enough to reach an airline’s top status, so make sure you check in at home or online if you can. Otherwise arrive early.

The best way to beat the security lines is to get TSA Pre-Check. With TSA Pre-Check you are pre-screened and can use the TSA Pre-Check fast line available at most airports. You can sign up for TSA Pre-Check in person at some airports, otherwise you need to signup online and schedule an in-person appointment. These appointments are not always at the airport, and the cost is $85 and it lasts for five years.

If you plan on traveling outside of the US in the next five years, Global Entry is a better option. Global Entry gives you a fast pass through US Customs and Immigration. Like TSA Pre-Check, you need an in-person interview, but this is with a Customs Officer usually at an airport. I did mine during a layover in Miami. The cost of Global Entry is only $15 more than TSA Pre-Check. It’s worth noting that you might be able to get TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry for free; many premium credit cards like American Express Platinum and Citi Prestige offer a refund on the application fee.

Learn more about other travel hacks and ensure you are making the most of your miles and points by watching my course Traveling and Loyalty Program Best Practices.

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Contributor

Stephen Thomas

has been working with BizTalk since February 28, 2001. For the past nine years, he has been recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in BizTalk Server, and has worked on BizTalk projects all over the world, with many clients being in the Fortune 500.