Be prepared while you travel
27 tips to help you save time, cut stress, and accomplish great things while you travel.

For many businesspeople, traveling is a black hole of frustration, stress and work that piles up while you're stuck on a plane.

Jason Womack offers a wealth of strategies to help you make the most of your time on the move so you can accomplish great things even before you reach your destination...

1. Become a Packing Minimalist: Carefully examine what you pack and eliminate anything that isn't necessary. It will be much easier to find what you need when you're on the road. Plus, the next time you have to pack, the task will go a lot more quickly. To save yourself some last-minute stress, repack your travel bag the second everything is washed, dried and folded.

2. Invest in Important Duplicates for Travel: It is always worth investing in a duplicate set of power chargers for your phone, laptop and other gadgets, as well as a duplicate set of toiletries. Always keep these duplicates in your travel bag. This way, you'll never have to worry about forgetting something and you'll save time and energy when you do need to replace something.

3. Charge it…All: Create a checklist of "power" items with which you travel and get into the habit of reviewing that list the night before each trip in order to make sure each device is charged.

4. Pack Workout Gear: Always carry a set of workout clothes in case you get a chance to use them and lay them out when you arrive at your hotel room so you won't have to dig through your luggage first thing in the morning.

5. Be Prepared, Medically : Always travel with a first aid kit that includes pain relievers, band-aids, cold medicine, etc. Having to stop what you're doing to find a pharmacy can be time-consuming and expensive.

6. Keep Important Extras Close: Ladies, always put an extra pair of pantyhose in your purse. Men, you might want to put a back-up tie in your briefcase. Having items like these on hand can reduce stress if you run into any hiccups on the road.

7. Always Leave Early! Always leave earlier than necessary for flights and meetings and allow more time than you think is necessary to get to the airport.

8. Make Sure All Travel Info is on Your Mobile Phone: Don't underestimate the value of having easy access to confirmation numbers for your hotel, rental car, flight etc., as well as phone numbers for each of those agencies. Plus, it's nice to be able to check your flight status without having to dig through your briefcase to find your flight-confirmation printout!

9. Take a (Great) Seat: While you might not need to be as strategic with your seating as those racers, keep in mind the aisle seat does have its advantages. It allows you, if necessary, to easily get the items you need out of the overhead bin. And be sure to plan what you'll need during the flight before the plane takes off so you won't have to keep opening and closing the overhead bin. Plus, having a seat in the exit row and on the aisle makes it easy to get up if you have to use the lavatory.

10. Become a Preferred Customer: Having preferred customer status with car rental companies, airlines, hotels and other key travel vendors can be a big help if you go on more than a handful of business trips a year. If something goes wrong, preferred status can often mean a company's employees will help you resolve a situation more quickly.

11. Invest in Club Membership with Airline of Your Choice: Investing in a club membership with an airline you frequently fly on is an advantage. You'll gain access to that airline's club space, so when you're waiting for your next flight you'll have a calmer, more comfortable place to be your best productive self.

12. Always Carry Cash: You never know when a problem with your bank or credit card company will cause a card to be denied. Always travel with cash so you won't be left stranded without a way to pay for cabs or without money for lunch.

13. Pre-plan Accomodation: Even if it's tempting, try to avoid touristy hotels or those in very busy areas. Once you do choose a home away from home, it's a good idea to call your concierge ahead of time to find out what restaurants and entertainment venues are in the area. Again, being a preferred customer with a hotel is a great way to be given timesaving advantages like no-wait check-ins, better rates, more involved service from hotel employees.

14. Plan Meal Times: Do a little thinking about where and what you're going to eat before you even leave your house. The day before you travel, call the concierge at the hotel where you'll be staying. Ask for lunch and dinner options within walking distance or a short car ride from your hotel. This will not only save you time searching for food once you arrive but also help ensure you go to quality restaurants while on your trip.

15. Know Travel Routes in Advance: Getting lost can be a huge waste of time once you actually arrive at your destination. Prior to leaving, plan your routes and how you'll travel. And if you already know you'll be driving yourself, make sure your rental comes with GPS or be sure to have your own device ready with a map or written directions as a back-up.

16. Avoid Traveling During the Busiest Times of Day: If you can, avoid planning your meetings, arrivals and departures during the busiest travel times of the day. The same goes for traveling to and from the airport (or anywhere) during rush hour in any big city. It can be difficult to get a cab during those times and if you're driving you could end up wasting time waiting in traffic.

17. Get to Know People Where You Travel: If you frequently travel to the same locations get to know the locals while you're there. They'll often be able to tell you the best places. They can also recommend better routes to use while traveling or put you in contact with other locals whom you might benefit from meeting.

18. Learn to Master the Tech You Use: Far too many of us today have the latest gadgets… but no idea how to really use them productively. Learn about the features of your smartphone, laptop and tablet, and make sure you're using them to their full advantage. The apps and software available can save you tons of time in your work flow and in how you use your travel time.

19. Always be Ready: These three words should become your travel mantra. When you follow them, you can maximize your travel time, delays and all. Whether you're on a 20-minute cab ride or waiting to board a flight, you can reply to an e-mail, make a phone call, amend a meeting agenda, catch up on reading, make changes to an ongoing product, confirm appointments and more! The trick is you have to "always be ready" with what you need to attack those tasks. So make sure you have the materials you need, handy in your briefcase.

20. Be Sure to Always Have a Pen and Notepad: Even if you're a fast typist, sometimes your most productive work sessions come from "splashing ink".

21. Use Pre- and Post-Airport Time Wisely: If you'll be traveling in a cab to and from the airport, keep a list of people you need to call handy and give them a ring while you're riding. Or use the ride to brainstorm what you'll be discussing with the client you're meeting or to plan out another meeting. If you'll be driving, queue up a podcast you've been meaning to listen to so you can cross it off your to-do list after your drive.

22. Organise Travel Workspace: Make sure you have a sensible carry-on that allows you to easily access things you need and take time the day before you travel to organize its contents. Make sure your bag or briefcase is stocked with extra pens, your brainstorming journal, any magazines or articles you've been meaning to read, thank-you notes to write, etc. This way, you'll be ready to work when 15-minute bonus periods come up.

23. Develop System for Managing Receipts: Whether it's a special compartment in your briefcase or an envelope you keep in your wallet or purse, create a system for storing and managing your receipts. When you have to compile your expense report, you don't want to waste time digging through bags, pockets and papers searching for errant receipts!

24. Let Your Contacts Know Where You Are: Don't keep your travel schedule to yourself! Share with clients and contacts the basics of where you'll be going and when. You may find that a prospective customer is going to be in the same city as you or that a layover destination matches a client's home base. When you know these things ahead of time, you may be able to plan an extra meeting or factor in some valuable face time with a person you may not otherwise meet too often.

25. Use the Airport: The airport isn't just a travel hub; it can also be a valuable meeting space. Often, you can rent conference rooms at various airlines' clubs, even if you're not a priority member. These conference rooms are private and reasonably priced and if it's convenient for the other party as well, the location can save you time, stress and hassle!

26. Have a Business Card Handy: Traveling offers many opportunities to network…if you're ready to take advantage of them. Always be ready with a business card so that when you meet someone new you can use the opportunity to build your professional network.

27. Learn Something New: The fact is you can't focus on work all the time. In fact, taking an occasional break will keep you sharper and more productive when you are focused on work. Womack suggests keeping a folder of magazine or newspaper articles that you've been wanting to read in your carry-on. That way, you can reach for one if you need a "work" break while on your flight. You could also use break time to queue up a video tutorial for a new software program, say, or just read a good book.