5 Tips for Business Travel

Lessons learned from a couple of days on the road.

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Americans make more than 405 million long-distance business trips a year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Studies find that most of us actually like business travel—that may be part of the reason teleconferencing never took off.

Some of us, I'll wager, are much better at it than others. As I sit here typing in a hotel room in southern Arizona, I'll certainly agree that I have plenty of room to grow in skill and efficiency. Here are five lessons I've learned in the past couple of days. Truly seasoned travelers may find these no-brainers, in which case, I'd encourage you to offer your own.

1. Double-check all your reservations. I got to the airport Wednesday evening and discovered that my flight reservation had vaporized. There was no record of it anywhere. Without bogging you down with the boring details—I'll just suggest that you double-check.

2. Print out all your confirmation receipts. This served me well when I got to the hotel and was charged a rate considerably higher than the one I'd arranged earlier. I pulled out my printed confirmation, and there wasn't much the front desk clerk could do but change it.

3. Reconsider your plans. When you still have time to change your arrangements, make sure you've made the smartest decisions about where you're staying, what you're paying, and when you're picking up the rental car. You may be able to arrange a more efficient schedule.

4. Don't get flustered. One mistake often leads to another when you can't get over the first. After the reservation mishap, I waited in the wrong security line. I stood there and made my way through the line only to be sent to another security entrance because I'd allowed myself to become thoroughly flustered and had stopped paying attention to what I was doing.

5. Make your life a little better. I used to be annoyed by people who moved to better seats on airplanes but not anymore. Isn't it worth it to make a couple of people stand up, so you can switch from your sandwich-filling middle seat to the empty window seat a couple of rows behind you?

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