Ding! The seat belt sign is no longer illuminated, so you step into the airplane aisle to reach for your laptop travel case. There were a few small tweaks that came to mind for your upcoming presentation as the plane was taking off. As a regular traveler for business, swiftly navigating the overhead compartments is second nature, much like packing like a pro and ensuring your hotel room has all your needed amenities.
As a frequent business traveler, you experience the perks and the pitfalls of constantly being on the go. Some people consider it one of the best aspects of their job, whereas others see it as an inconvenient chore. People who are new to traveling for business may be experiencing both sides. Here are some of the best and worst parts of jet-setting.
--Loyalty rewards programs. Unless otherwise stipulated in your work contract, the frequent flier miles you rack up, the hotel points you earn and the car rental loyalty rewards you amass are all yours. And if you stick with one carrier, the kickbacks will accumulate quickly, Six Brown Chicks media correspondent Toya Nicole reminds travelers. "If you use your own personal card for expenses reimbursed at a later date, make sure that card is earning you some points," says Nicole. "Switch to a credit card associated with your preferred airline or hotel partner so all charges will be converted to points/miles."
--Airport accommodations. If you are going to be flying frequently, then it might be worth it to enroll in the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program and have your company foot the bill. As a PreCheck member, you don't need to remove your laptop, belt, shoes or light jacket. You also are moved to a faster line. This status comes from a background check and in-person meeting with TSA, but it can save you hours for each visit to the airport. You and your company can save time and money in the long term.
--Working from home. Another perk of frequent traveling is that travel can easily transition to a telecommuting position. If you and your employer have worked out a system in which you can be fully engaged at work while on the road, then it'd be difficult to fight against working remotely most or all of the time.
--Tax write-offs. If you'll be staying overnight on a business trip, you're eligible for tax deductions on travel expenses. Transportation is the most common deduction; however, 50 percent of food and lodging and even dry cleaning can be a tax write-off. Be sure to read up on state-specific and IRS rules, says Barbara Weltman, a tax and law expert and the author of the guide "J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes." "If you don't follow the rules, you can miss out on getting deductions for legitimate expenses."
--Traveling to new places. It seems obvious, but the best part of going to a new place is simply experiencing what it has to offer. New food, museums, historical sites, music, recreation and types of transport are available to you. Try Cincinnati chili; enjoy an architecture tour of Chicago on a riverboat; cruise down the California coast in a convertible; or explore the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere, which is in Georgia.
--Cramped style. Traveling so often can be very difficult on the body. Long car trips and long flights can induce muscle cramping and stiffness, deep vein thrombosis, respiratory infections from proximity and severe jet lag.
--Frayed nerves. Hurried, hectic schedules can wreak havoc on your nerves. According to the Mayo Clinic, "stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes." Other common effects of stress include headaches, fatigue, stomach issues, sleep problems, anxiety, irritability, social withdrawal, angry outbursts and depression.
--Diets suffer. Some travelers are lucky enough to be treated to meals at nice restaurants; others settle for fast food or takeout. Still others go without food for long bursts of time. And when people do eat, it's easy to add a few too many cocktails to the tab. Whether you're entertaining clients, bonding with team members, going to professional mixers or relaxing after a long day, overindulging in alcohol can become a problem.
Traveling for business is a whirlwind experience. No day is like the day before, and there are positive and negative aspects of the work. It's up to you to buckle up and see whether you're ready for the trip!