For many entrepreneurs, myself included, frequent business trips are the norm. And while travel may be necessary, it doesn’t have to be a necessary evil. Here are five simple solutions to make travel less painful, whether you fly a few times a week or a few times a year.
Bag It Up
Eliminate the unsettling I-think-I’m-forgetting-something feeling by buying duplicate, travel-sized versions of your toiletries. For example, 3floz.com, founded by female entrepreneurs Alexi Mintz and Kate Duff, is a great e-commerce site for savvy business and leisure travelers scouting their favorite products in TSA-friendly sizes.
I have a foldable toiletries travel bag (that fits in my carry-on) and it’s always packed and ready to go. It carries travel-sized duplicates of my essentials, including contacts, allergy medication and vitamins. I’ll never again forget to pack a toothbrush or razor because the travel versions live in my bag.
Get on the List
If you travel five times a year or more, sign up for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. Both services expedite security clearance through pre-approved screenings. This is a great example of what “Procrastinate on Purpose” author Rory Vaden calls multiplying your time: what’s a pain to set up initially saves lots of time in the future.
Signing up for either service simple — just visit their websites. Also, if you’re an American Express Business Platinum cardholder, they’ll reimburse the $100 application fee.
There are countless articles about the benefits of travel loyalty programs, like free checked bags, priority boarding and seat upgrades, so I won’t go into those here. For the record, I’m very proud of my status with American Airlines — 1.3 million miles to date and counting!
Choose your favorite airline, car rental program and hotel chain, and learn their benefits. You can save a lot of time and money by enrolling in programs, many of which are free. I love Budget’s Fastbreak rental car program, because my car is always waiting for me and I don’t have to go to the rental kiosk.
Although it’s smart to stick with preferred partners when you can, it’s also a good idea to register for other airline and car rental frequent traveler programs and to keep a list of your ID numbers and each company’s phone number in your phone. You never know when you’ll find yourself on a flight delay with an unfamiliar airline.
Almost all airlines expedite calls from members of their loyalty programs (even if you don’t have elite status), and getting help from a phone operator is almost always quicker than waiting in a long airport line when something goes awry — like an entire cancelled flight full of passengers attempting to rebook at the same time.
Lounge in Style
Don’t stop at airlines, rental car companies and hotels: play favorites with airport lounges, too. The Centurion Lounge for American Express cardholders is tough to beat, but it’s only in a handful of airports (DFW, LAS, LGA, MIA, SEA and SFO). Entrance is free with an American Express Platinum card.
This same card grants you a gratis membership in the Priority Pass program, getting you into one or more airport lounges in just about every airport. It’s amazing the difference a tall drink and a free meal can make after a day of non-stop travel.
Get Into Gear
Some people think spinner carry-on bags (or, as I like to call them, four-wheel drive suitcases) are for old people. I say they’re for people who’ve tried them, because once you have a spinner, you’ll never go back to a traditional two-wheeled suitcase again. I don’t care how old or young you are: spinner bags make navigating narrow airplane aisles and busy concourses a breeze and are a must-have for every traveler.
Similarly, make your “personal item” count. Choose a tote or bag that’s large enough to encompass your regular, day-to-day bag, but still provide room for extra travel essentials, like a book or change of clothes. If you’re strategic with your two carry-ons, you can likely go sans checked bag for trips lasting up to a week.
Travel Smart with Apps
I love the free TripIt app. It automatically grabs all my travel information and consolidates flight, hotel, car and weather reports into one simple, easy-to-access agenda. I haven’t printed a paper agenda in years, because this information is a tap away, ready to be seamlessly copied into Google Maps or wherever else I need it. Frequent travels can unlock bonus features, real-time flight alerts and alternate flight information for $49 per year in TripIt Pro.
The world is a great, big place and it would be a shame to see less of it simply because traveling has a reputation for being a nuisance. These simple tips will help make your future travel a breeze.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Brittany Hodak is the co-founder of ZinePak. She has been named to Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 list, Inc.’s 35 Under 35 list, and Billboard’s 30 Under 30 list. She won a prestigious Stevie Award for Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year, was a finalist in Entrepreneur magazine’s 2014 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year competition, and has been recognized at the United Nations as one of the Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs in America two years in a row. In 2014, ZinePak was named Empact’s “Most Disruptive Company” at the United Nations ceremony for its role in redefining physical music. This article originally appeared in Creator by WeWork. Connect with @brittanyhodak on Twitter.