Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 13, 2010 2:25 PM

How To Be The Ultimate Road Warrior

If you have seen the movie, Up In The Air, you'll note that there is an art form in business travel.

So much so, that the art of business travel has taken on a life of its own. It's not just a blockbuster movie with George Clooney. It's becoming a cultural way of being. It turns out that the more connected we are, the more inclined we are to make those connections in our protein forms as well. Another indication of this interest comes from Chris Brogan (best-selling business book author of Social Media 101 and co-author with Julien Smith of Trust Agents). A few weeks back, Brogan launched his latest project: a new travel Blog for business professionals titled, Man On The Go. Two days ago, he had a video Blog post entitled, Travel Tips For Air Travel (which you can view below). As someone who has already clocked clocked close to 90,000 air miles in 2010 alone, I thought I would add some additional tips.

How to be the ultimate road warrior:

  • Get a Nexus card. If you travel across the border, one of these cards can save you a ton of time (and they are worth every penny). Instead of waiting in line at customs, you zip through by being pre-screened (prior to getting the card), and all you do is answer a few questions and do a retinal scan on a terminal (no more custom officials). On top of that, they are now offering a VIP security line domestically for those who have a Nexus card (bonus!).
  • Never check luggage. Unless you really, really have to. The way to avoid checking luggage is to get a great carry-on (like The Eagle Creek Tarmac 22 - more on that here: What A Social Media Case Study Can Look Like). Some carry-on tips include: making sure that the bag (when it's empty) is super-light (the better ones are between 5.5 - 7.5 lbs) and learn how to really pack (make sure to buy some Eagle Creek Pack-It Folders). If you're not sure how to pack a ton of clothes into one of these carry-ons, watch the video in the, What A Social Media Case Study Can Look Like, link above. Not only does this save you time at both check-in and when you arrive at your destination, but if you ever want to switch a flight, it's much easier when you have all of your belongings with you (and nothing checked). I can do 9-10 days of business travel with a 22-inch carry-on.
  • Always sign-up to a loyalty program. And, stick to one (if you can). The more points you acquire (which are great to use for family vacations), the more status you get as well. The more status you get, the more likely you will be able to get upgraded on your seats, switch flights and get on an earlier flight if yours gets cancelled. Overall, collecting points is less about the free travel and much more about the status and access. Loyalty also gives you access to VIP lounges and some airports even have security and check-in lines dedicated to members with loyalty.
  • Get on the flight first. Many road warriors wait until the last minute to board the plane. It's a mistake. Loyalty usually entitles you to board first. Not only do you have more time to get settled before the masses cram the aisles, but if you're never checking baggage (see above), this also ensures that you'll have a place in the overhead bins and not get stuck having to gate check your carry-on (which is a sure way for the airline to get it lost).
  • Always check-in online. Not only will this save you time at the airport, but you can also choose your seat in advance. If you're not sure which seats on the flight are best, check out Seat Guru. It's also better for the environment (especially if you're checking in with a mobile device)
  • Become the Digital Road Warrior. With iPhone apps like TripIt and FlightTrack Pro, I'm usually more "in the loop" than the gate attendant about whether or not the flight will be delayed or how full/how many seats are available. The amount of data and information that these apps provide (including how often the flight you're on is late, and where the plane you are about to take is coming from and its status) is super-empowering. In fact, I'll do a follow-up Blog post on the ultimate iPhone apps for the road warrior.
  • Bring too much work with you. Flights get delayed. Flights get cancelled. Wi-fi can super-expensive. Bring your laptop, iPad, mobile internet access and tons to read. Take a deep breath and focus on what's coming ahead. When a flight gets delayed or cancelled, I usually ask myself this question: "what would I be doing if I were not on this plane?" The answer is usually, working on my laptop, sleeping or consuming some form of content for entertainment (books, magazines, movies, etc...). There's no reason why I can't do any of that on a plane, in the lounge, in a hotel room or at the gate.

What business travel tips do you have/can you add?

By Mitch Joel