I think my friends are a little envious of my schedule. They shouldn’t be. There are many days when I would love to trade, but from a distance traveling can look fun. When I was in business school, the thought of flying across the country for business meetings seemed exciting. When I started my career, I did the grunt work and watched as my management team shot across the country to meet with clients. I wanted that job. I wanted to wake up in a new city, check out the new areas; I wanted to travel.
Over the last decade I received my wish. Sales management jobs have required me to fly to almost every state in the country. If there is a medium-sized city at least 100 miles from the nearest airport, I have been there. Probably twice! To my great disappointment, traveling for business isn’t glamorous at all. It isn’t how they make it look in the movies, unless you are talking about the very realistic Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
As the Director of Sales for Palo Alto Software, I am required to travel all over the country to meet with our retail, affiliate and reseller partners. Over the next two weeks I will be in San Jose, Miami (not complaining), Raleigh, Chicago and possibly somewhere in Georgia. My travel schedule tends to run in spurts, and I am currently in one of those spurts.
One of the advantages of traveling so often is that I have become a state-jumping pro. When you go to the airport, there are people who shoot through security, know exactly where to get their rental car, and check into hotels in less than a minute. I now belong to this tribe. The key to business travel is all in the preparation. If you follow some simple rules, you too can be a member of the traveling tribe:
- Get your frequent miles programs nailed down. You spend weeks and even months of your year on the road; make sure you are building up points for a future vacation. Some of my favorite programs are Hotels.com (every 10th night gets you a free night), Alaska Airlines and Enterprise Rental.
- Dress for the metal detector. Empty your pockets before you get to the airport. Wear slip-on dress shoes. Take your watch off. Don’t wear shirts with big metal buttons, and please take your hand gun out of your bag. (I have been in line behind three people who have forgotten about the gun in their purse and it tends to make the security teams go crazy).
- Use an online travel organizer. There are plenty of software apps available that can help you organize your trip (I use TripIt). Flight times, delays, hotel locations, who am I renting my car from? All my travel details are conveniently located in one phone app.
- Arrive the night before your meeting. It is tempting to fly in the morning before a meeting, but very risky. Flights get delayed, GPS directions can get mixed up, traffic can be terrible. Traveling across the country to miss a meeting is very frustrating and a complete waste of time.
- Avoid families in the security line. If given a choice, always take the line without kids. Even if the other line is twice as long, you will always finish before the poor mom who is trying to help her children through security. Children have the most random metal objects in their pockets. (a possible future blog post)
I hope these pointers will help your next trip go smoothly. If you are part of my traveling tribe, please feel free to add your best traveling pointers and suggestions.