Author Topic: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI  (Read 978 times)

wealthviahealth

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Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« on: July 20, 2019, 10:19:06 AM »
My job recently changed in complexity and I will now be traveling( domestic:plane ride+hotel) during the workweek 2 weeks a month.
I was somehow excited when I first learned this but now the dread/anxiety is kicking in when I think about the travel logistics ( airlines, getting to and from the airports, sleeping in hotels, not cooking own meals) and the impact on my social life at "home" being gone 2 weeks every month.
For those that have had simiar situations, I would love to hear any of your tips- whether it be health "biohacks" for staying mentally and physically healthy and how to make the most of it from a quality of life and FI perspective. I think that mindset is key in all of this so I am trying to compile a list of all of the potential upside before deciding that I already hate it before its begun.

Potential upside I can think of: airline miles, audiobook time in transit, no grocery expenses 2 weeks out of everymonth+ ability to eat at nice restaurants/grocery stores on travel weeks, easier to eat cheaply when at home since getting the fun stuff on travel weeks, could justify renting an even cheaper place for my home base as will not be there as often, and finally- testing the lifestyle of any of the "dream jobs" that have frequent travel such as authors, entertainers, high paid speakers and coaches.
What have you found to be the upsides?

TomTX

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2019, 10:31:58 AM »
Get airport lounge access. Lots of premium credit cards have Priority Pass, Amex Platinum has Centurion Lounges + Priority Pass, airlines have their own lounges. Figure out what lounges are in your home, destination and any airports you stop in between. If you have a flight delay, it's a lot nicer to have lounge access for food + drinks + comfy chair + power. Most Centurion lounges even have a shower - I used one once on a long layover on my way home after a long day.

See if you can focus on one airline and get high status. Consider getting their credit card for the signup miles. Note: The top end AA credit card has a high annual fee, but it comes with AA lounge access - which otherwise costs even more. My "home" airport has an AA lounge, no Priority Pass or Centurion lounges. If I flew more, I would likely get the card.

See if you can focus on one or two hotel chains and get high status. Credit cards can get you medium status, depending. I focus on Hilton primarily, then IHG if not available, then Marriott if neither is available. High status gets you early checkin, late checkout, free room upgrades, more points, free breakfast - depends on the property.

I also make sure to get plenty of healthy(ish) snack foods while on the trip and being reimbursed, like some big cans of mixed nuts from the grocery store.

You're going to need to become a luggage ninja. Watch some videos on packing small - see if you can do carryon only. You will probably go through a few iterations of different luggage as you optimize. A travel vest can be very helpful, if you don't tend to overheat.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2019, 10:42:32 AM by TomTX »

Syonyk

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2019, 11:32:32 AM »
You're single, or married, or married with kids?

If single, enjoy.  I found it to get old awfully fast not remembering what time zone I was in when I woke up on not-my-bed.  If you're married... eh.  If you're married with kids in the house, seriously reconsider.

If you have a choice of airline, definitely pick one and stick with it - find out who has good perks.  I don't fly enough to get myself into business class, so I typically go Southwest, but one of American or United is pretty good (the other crams you in like sardines in cattle class, and I don't recall which is which).

Get TSA Precheck - if you're in the US.  It's a thing that absolutely shouldn't exist (being able to buy your way out of the pornoscopes and long lines), and it's a thing that's huge if you're flying a lot - you just go through a metal detector and don't have to strip down/unpack your laptops/etc.

Figure out a good backpack for the plane.  I generally fly with core essentials in my backpack and check a bag, but I also fly Southwest so I don't have to pay to do that - and it's nice not having to wait for the "Ok, bins are full, we'll gate check for free..." games played on other airlines.  I typically sit towards the rear, and have a post-flight routine that involves stretching and a nice luxurious bathroom break in a full sized stall, so I rarely find myself actually waiting for luggage.

Staying healthy is the biggest challenge, and I don't travel enough to really have good advice.  I typically run to a grocery store and buy a couple things (fruits, veggies, granola bars, etc) when I land so I'm not tempted to hit restaurants as often.  Some are nice, but it gets old in a hurry IMO.

And be prepared to pull the plug if you don't like it.  I found heavy travel kind of novel for about 6 months, then just got tired of not being home.

primozaj

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2019, 08:08:09 PM »
Most of my career I have traveled and since 2016 I have been gone a lot... like 2-3 weeks a month a lot.  So what I would I recommend?  A lot of what others have but I'll list my opinions.

  • TSA Pre-check: Even though I typically use lower traffic airports the money is totally worth the reduced anxiety.  If you are ever going international just get Global Entry and it comes with Pre-check via the known traveler number.
  • Priority with an airline: This is worth it regardless of what certain bloggers say.  I get a ton of benefit by being a frequent flyer on a specific airline.  Upgrades are Fantastic
  • Airline CC: Yes they come with high interest rates.  Yes, they come with annual fees.  However, many annual fees cover the Global Entry fee I mentioned above once every five years and some come with Lounge perks.  Once you pick an airline it'll be able to help guide your CC plan, but don't forget to pay your bill in full.
  • Pick a hotel chain: Once you get status you'll get free breakfast at "fancy" places but if you choose a good chain and are smart about your hotel choices where you travel you can often get free breakfast anyway and some times a free happy hour which has heavy appetizers that can substitute for dinner.
  • During travel: Personally I run, and you can do that anywhere so you don't need a good hotel for that, just a decent neighborhood. Also, good WiFi makes contacting home and doing email after work much easier.  Think about where you are going weather-wise because a good hotel gym might become a deal breaker for both winter and summer.
  • Don't skimp on whatever you need to be comfortable (i.e. don't choose a lousy bed to save money) and make sure you feel safe where you stay.  There is nothing worse than being catatonic for a meeting
  • Make sure your room comes with a fridge... that way you can hit a grocery store on the way into town and get all the supplies you might need.
  • Be aware that there may be expectations while on travel to go out with clients, colleagues, whatever... just pick your meal according to what you'd do at home.  Don't get talked into the "Combat Billing" where someone orders a shitload of food and wine and then expects people to split it evenly.

That's my two cents so far... I'd be willing to offer any more advice based on my 19+ years of work travel if you are interested.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 07:38:02 PM by primozaj »

brooklynmoney

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2019, 09:25:33 PM »
Get Clear too! Clear along with TSA Pre and lounge access make airports tolerable.

wealthviahealth

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2019, 08:38:36 AM »
I appreciate all of these tips and support, thanks yall.
This change is also coming with a change in home ( moving to a new state) and I had already selected my new apt before learning about the frequency of this travel. If I could go back now, I think I would have selected an even cheaper apt considering I will be gone so often- this could have been a huge opportunity for slashing my monthly expenses on both rent and groceries- my two highest expenses.
If I keep up with this position it does give me an idea for a great lemonade out of lemons scenario in which I could airbnb my future place out on the weeks that I am traveling and as a result have no true overhead as far as housing expenses.
Would be curious to know if folks have done something similar as well as how such frequent travel like this has impacted their overall living expenses.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2019, 12:23:16 PM »
Are you going to the same place each time, or are you alternating destinations?

My mom was on a project where she flew most weeks, but the destination would be the same for 6-12 months at a time.  She talked the company into renting her a small apartment so she could leave some of her things, cook herself dinner, and do laundry.

Before that, she'd use the same hotel, and they allowed her to leave a suitcase until she came back.  She'd just do laundry and not have to worry about bringing her stuff back and forth.

When I traveled for work, I liked to book extended-stay hotels with a tiny kitchenette. I always feel better if I can cook some of my own meals.

BikingEngineer

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2019, 02:47:31 PM »
Will your meals be expensed, or per diem? That can make a substantial difference in how you lay out your hotel/meal strategy. If it's expensed, just eat what you'd like within reason and submit that. If it's per-diem, all of a sudden a suite-style hotel with a kitchen might make more sense.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2019, 04:11:20 PM »
Get TSA Precheck - if you're in the US.  It's a thing that absolutely shouldn't exist (being able to buy your way out of the pornoscopes and long lines), and it's a thing that's huge if you're flying a lot - you just go through a metal detector and don't have to strip down/unpack your laptops/etc.


If possible, try to get Global Entry, *not* TSA Precheck.  Global Entry includes TSA Pre, but also includes expedited customs screening when flying internationally.  It costs $15 more, but even for one international flight in the next 5 years it's worth it.  Other than the $15 fee, the problem with Global Entry is that when I applied (about 4 years ago), the wait times for an interview were ~6 months.  I don't know what the wait time is now.  I was able to fly through Houston, and there's an interview location there that had same day and next day openings for the interview.  The problem with that is that it's behind the security gate inside the terminal, so you need to do it on a layover.  The wait time could be less now, or there might be other interview scheduling strategies you could use. 

I second the idea of a suite-style hotel with a kitchen.  Going out to eat every day gets old, and it's not healthy. 

Finally, get some noise cancelling headphones.  I highly recommend the Bohm B76 wireless noise cancelling headphones.  They're 80% as good as the high-end noise cancelling headphones for 25% of the price.  The only caveats with them are that they don't fit people with small heads very well and while the sound quality is good but definitely not audiophile quality. 
« Last Edit: July 23, 2019, 04:19:07 PM by FIRE 20/20 »

Christof

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2019, 04:24:42 PM »
Especially if you are traveling to different places, find a hobby that you can pursue after work while being away. Otherwise its too easy to end up with the default choices in hotels, watching TV and hanging out at the bar. If you stay at the same place, get engaged with the local community.

NinjaSalad

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2019, 07:21:00 AM »
I travel frequently for work and I'm lucky that I mostly get to plan when I travel to other locations. When possible, I try to schedule my site visits around concerts for some of my favorite bands. It's pretty awesome to be able to see a band in a different city (especially when they aren't touring anywhere near where I live) and only have to pay for the ticket :)

I also look for places to run/walk/hike. Some of my sites are in pretty small towns so at the very least, I get outside and explore. Usually I am alone, but there have been a few times when I've gone exploring with coworkers...like the time a group of us walked around Detroit exploring abandoned buildings - that was awesome! I don't watch TV and I just can't stand sitting in a hotel room doing nothing so I always find something to do.

I stay in "suite" type hotel rooms and cook my own meals, although it's mostly out of necessity for me. I'm vegan and some of the towns I have to visit have ZERO options for vegan meals so I just hit up the grocery store and cook my own. I've even packed my leftover uncooked foods (usually bulk stuff like rice or beans) and brought them back home with me. Free groceries!!

The miles, hotel points and rental car points are great. I recently picked up a $1200 voucher from United for volunteering to delay my flight home for 6 hours. I get to use all the perks I've earned for personal travel - we are going to northern CA for vacation next week. Between the voucher and rewards points, our only expense will be meals!

It sucks to be away from my husband and son - but it gives them a chance to hang out and do "boy stuff". They have their own adventures while I'm away, so it works out ok.

Catbert

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2019, 11:31:12 AM »
Take the time to thoroughly understand your company's travel rules and requirements.  Can your use your own credit card? Make your own travel arrangements?l Only use certain hotels? Per diem or actual food expenses?  Requirements for expensing laundry, Uber/Lyft, rental car, lounge access, etc. 


Rdy2Fire

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Re: Making the most of business travel.Quality of life +FI
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2019, 11:48:17 AM »
I think all of the above covered it.. But to reiterate a couple of things

Global Entry gives you TSA pre-check for free so get GE and if you are going to get a PREMIUM credit card then get the card before applying as most will reimburse you the $100.

Get a credit card that will tie in well with your airline (or hotel) of choice like a citi american or delta amex etc. Charge EVERYTHING!

Only get CLEAR if you know it's in the airports you're going to be frequenting regularly because it's not everywhere. Personally I'd not get it but if you know you're going to airports that have it it will save you some time.

Stick with one airline and one hotel chain. You will get status with Hilton quicker then others but more points to get rooms. Once you have status at a hotel or airline even you can do status challenges (something you may want to do). You can also get quicker status staying in multiple hotels on the same trip for example if you are going to be in Chicago for 3 nights you could check out each day, check into another hotel (same chain) that gives you 3 stays instead of 1 stay of 3 days, those are counter different for status but if you're staying 2 weeks in one place you will hit status regardless pretty quickly

As for health. It is harder to eat healthy traveling especially if your company limits your spend but regardless it's not impossible. Most hotels have gyms, some aren't that great but I typically try and make time to at least walk especially if in a city or there is somewhere to walk to