Traveler Experience
Expert Tips for New Business Travelers

Expert Tips for New Business Travelers

Libby Zay

28 Feb 2023
5 minute read
new business traveler looking for tips on their cell phone

Taking your first work trip can be both exciting and daunting. Even those who frequently travel for leisure may find that business travel brings a new set of rules, standards, and situations.

As you represent your company or meet your coworkers for the first time, you’ll want to put your best self forward. This means ensuring you steer clear of any business travel blunders.

Whether you’re headed to a one-off conference or starting a high-travel job, below are five business travel tips. Use them on your next business trip, and you’ll soon be on your way to road warrior status!

1. Understand your company’s travel policy

Your company’s travel policy is your roadmap to a successful business trip.

The travel policy sets clear guidelines for a company’s corporate travel program. From allowable business class upgrades to daily per diems for meals, the policy outlines what expenses are covered.

Pay attention to the rules around air travel, accommodations, rental cars, and ground transportation (i.e., public transportation vs. rideshares like Uber or Lyft). You’ll want to understand exactly what’s covered and how to complete expense reports.

Knowing the rules is one thing, and keeping records is another. If your company requires you to keep all paper receipts, be meticulous about staying within policy and consider taking photos of all your receipts.

On the other hand, if your company uses travel management software like Navan that surfaces policy while booking and automates the expense process, you’re in the clear!

Pro tip: Thinking about adding some leisure time onto your trip? Check that the practice is allowable under your company policy. And if it is, be sure to delineate expenses for the business vs. personal portions of your trip.

2. Join loyalty programs

Around 78% of frequent business travelers — those who take three or more trips per year — are members of travel loyalty programs.

Taking work trips creates a valuable opportunity to earn points and miles that can be used for perks and upgrades, including everything from airport lounge and Wi-Fi access to free flights and hotel rooms.

Frequent flyers aren’t the only people who reap the benefits of rewards programs — most major hotel, car, and train travel brands also have loyalty programs. 

If you aren’t already loyal to travel brands, do your research before committing to a specific airline, rail, hotel, or rental car company. For example, you’d be wise to choose an airline with a hub at your home airport or a hotel near your company’s main office if you’ll be making frequent trips there.

Make sure the program offers what’s important to you. Think critically about whether or not you’ll really be able to accrue miles or points before signing up.

Pro tip: You can earn air, hotel, rail and rental car loyalty points and miles directly through Navan. The app saves all your loyalty account numbers in one place and even takes your affiliations into account when displaying search results.

3. Pack light and smart

Checking a bag adds time at both ends of your business trip, and there’s always a chance that it could get lost or delayed. Seven out of every 1,000 bags were marked as lost in the first quarter of 2022.

The solution? Don’t check a bag.

One way to keep your luggage from becoming too cumbersome is to pack clothes that can do double duty. Aim to pack versatile items that you can mix and match. Wrinkle-free clothing that you can layer is typically a good bet.

A classic pair of khakis can be worn on a plane, at a business meeting, and on a team-building hike. Whatever clothing you pick, make sure you fill your suitcase with items that make you feel confident and comfortable.

Don’t forget to pack any other gadgets or essentials, such as your computer, cell phone charger, toiletries, passport, or business cards.

One other packing tip: Invest in good carry-on luggage. Think about purchasing a lightweight backpack, duffel, or rolling bag that can help you speed through the airport.

Pro tip: Be sure to look into the company travel policy around checking bags, or else you may have to pay a fee. Add that to the list of reasons why a good carry-on bag pays for itself!

4. Save time with U.S. Global Entry

Is U.S. Global Entry worth it? The answer is a resounding yes.

Every bit of extra time helps your business trip run smoother. U.S. Global Entry includes all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck, which allows you to speed through security, and also lets you skip the long customs and immigration lines when returning to U.S. airports. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, these fast-track programs make the process less stressful.

To enroll in U.S. Global Entry, travelers must be pre-approved. The process costs $100, and membership lasts for five years. All applicants undergo a background check and in-person interview.

But the payoff is worth it: Depending on how often you travel, you could save hours waiting in lines at the airport — drastically reducing overall travel time.

And on that subject, don’t forget to check in early and print or download your boarding pass to your phone.

Pro tip: One often overlooked travel hack is to check with your credit card provider. Many providers will reimburse you for the U.S. Global Entry application fee.

5. Get ahead of jetlag

The key to a successful business trip is ensuring you’re in top form for business meetings. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination feeling fatigued or unable to present your best self.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of jet lag include:

  • Sleep problems
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Inability to focus or function at your usual level
  • Stomach problems such as constipation or diarrhea
  • A general feeling of not being well
  • Mood changes

Try to adjust to the local time in advance when crossing time zones. Light exposure is crucial to your internal clock, so you may be able to ease your adjustment by exposing yourself to daylight.

If sleeping on the plane is an option during international travel or other long flights, consider packing earplugs, an eye mask, and a travel pillow to ensure you sleep comfortably.

Pro tip: Choose water over alcohol. Staying hydrated is key to preventing jet lag. You may also want to pack your favorite healthy snack to help satisfy your hunger during long, nonstop flights or layovers when you may be tempted to purchase bad-for-you foods.

Business trips are easier with Navan, the all-in-one solution that makes travel easy so you can focus on being there, not getting there. The software is now open to all business travelers: Get started in just five minutes today.

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