Experienced Business Travellers Reveal Their Favourite Travel Tips

Four Points

This is part of the “Checking In” series, which offers expert tips, tricks, and advice for savvy business travellers. “Checking In” is sponsored by Four Points. Read more posts in the series »

Business travellers love sharing tips and tricks for surviving life on the road.

From scoring upgrades to maximizing credit card rewards, anything that can make the hassle of jet-setting a little more appealing can be a life-saver.

We reached out to several of our favourite frequent fliers to reveal their favourite travel strategies.

Sign up for Global Entry status

SmarterTravel executive editor Anne Banas raves about Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that pre-qualifies certain travellers for expedited customs.

'I just went through the (application process) a couple weeks ago on a trip to France,' Banas says. 'I was the only person in line for Global Entry and I went right though. And if you get a combination of flying business class plus Global Entry status, you can just whiz out of there with your luggage right away.'

Be loyal to businesses and they'll treat you well

'The key thing for business travel is frequent flier programs,' Banas says. 'You want to be brand loyal so you can get that elite status and have access to more perks and upgrades.'

If you don't want to marry yourself to one airline or hotel chain for infinity, Banas recommends at least getting a rewards credit card that lets you rack up points and miles no matter which company you choose to do business with.

Build up points outside of the airport

One of the best places to compound your travel points is actually nowhere near airports at all -- it's at the grocery store.

'These days with miles the best way to earn them is by shopping with credit cards,' Kelly says. 'I would say just take out travel rewards cards for everyday spending and when you travel.'

Just be sure you nab a card that waives foreign transaction fees, which can be a real killer.

Don't pass up cheap fares just for the points

Some fliers will do whatever it takes to book flights to earn more points, even if it means passing up cheaper fares on another carrier.

That's not always the smartest move, especially when you consider each mile is worth about two cents. 'Cash is king and yes, it's good to have a good mileage strategy, but I wouldn't pay a ton extra just to earn miles,' Kelly says.

Use a tennis ball to keep in-flight soreness at bay

'Bring a tennis ball with you when you're travelling,' suggests Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader for Westin and Le Meridien.

'It's great to roll under your feet and even under your thighs to keep you from getting stiff/sore. It's small, inexpensive and easy to replace.'

Use apps to track your miles

'What doesn't make sense is why so few people are keeping track of their points and miles when there are such good resources out there to do so easily,' Kelly says.

'They are worth money. Sometimes they are worth a lot of money -- depending on how you redeem them.'

Make your life easier and sign up for a miles tracking site like AwardWallet. It's a one-stop shop for tracking miles from all of your accounts, including your passwords for each.

Ask for hotel upgrades when the front desk isn't busy

Front desk clerks are known to be willing to upgrade customers when business is slow, but you're best bet is to ask them when there aren't a load of other people around.

'I just did this,' says George Hobica, founder of discount airfare site Airfarewatchdog.com. 'I had been booked in a room near the elevator. I told them I was a light sleeper and asked for a room at the end of the hallway. The nice person behind the desk upgraded me to a better room at no charge.'

Hobica typically follows this script: 'I know the hotel is not full today. Do you think you could upgrade me to a suite?'

Get upgrades on flights by booking an economy ticket with a Y or B booking code

According to TravelNerd.com's Amy Lee, this special booking code is gold for fliers looking for an upgrade.

'This means that the ticket will be full fare but you will receive a complimentary upgrade if there are open spots in the next class of service,' Lee says.

Just request the upgrade when you book your ticket and then check your status 24 hours before your flight. Frequent flyers should hear about upgrades within 100 hours of their departure (based on status level).

Consolidate your travel into one or two airlines only

'Try to keep them in the same airline family like OneWorld (American), SkyTeam (Delta) or Star Alliance (UnitedContinental),' suggests Suzanne Garber, Chief Networking Officer at International SOS

'Make sure you check international airlines to ensure your primary airline will gain the miles from flights on international carriers. Many of the perks afforded on your primary carrier will transfer over to these international carriers. In many cases, international carriers will actually treat you better than domestic US airlines in terms of free baggage, upgrade or access to their executive lounges. Almost all international carriers offer free meals and alcoholic beverages on their flights.'

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