How to NOT be a Business Travel Pro

The day of travel is more stressful for some than others. There’s the guy that breezes through security like it’s a well-choreographed dance, and then there’s that other guy that’s fumbling to empty another handful of change from his pocket as the security guard eyes him wearily, wand in hand.

If you don’t have the luxury of keeping your shoes on and your laptop in your bag during TSA pre-check, here are five things you can do to make you look like that second guy, the one who is not a business travel pro.

Wait until the morning of, when you are stressed and trying to pack at the last minute, to decide what time to leave for the airport.

Ever been there before? It seems like you’ll have all the time in the world the morning before your flight and then you get slammed with last minute requests or a laundry-related fiasco that leaves you running to make your departure. While you can’t plan for the hiccups, you can set a timeline. I like to plan out my travel day the night before.

I generally head to the airport 2-3 hours before my flight, but this varies depending on several factors. Is the airport notorious for having long security lines? Do you need to park the car or are you being dropped off curbside at departures? Is it a busy travel day? A tip for flexible travelers: Wednesday is a great day to fly. I have repeatedly gotten through security in under 10 minutes on Wednesday evenings.

Get dropped off at the wrong terminal because you have no idea what airline you’re flying let alone the gate you should be headed for.

While you can’t always know your departure gate in advance, at least do a quick check in your email to see which airline you’re flying. This should be easy if you checked in when the 24-hour window opened. You don’t have to have a map of the airport terminals and gates handy, but this will save you time when you’re deciding where to get dropped off at departures and which security line to get into.

Over pack in an oversized carry-on.

And while you’re at it, why not leave your laptop in your bag, forget about that full sized bottle of shampoo you packed and wear tightly laced boots through the security line?

Actually, you might be better off checking the airlines carry-on policies beforehand. And if you’re prone to over packing or really need to pack a variety of items for your meetings, look for an airline that checks bags free (hint: Southwest or JetBlue).

Forget the address of your hotel.

That address will be useful when your ride from the airport – be it an Uber driver, a taxi or a shuttle – asks you where you want to go. Instead of fumbling through your memory and email confirmations, write this address down in a handy place so you can pull it out and show your driver. This is especially helpful when you travel abroad and may encounter a language barrier.

Walk into the first restaurant you see after checking in, because you’re hangry and have no idea where to eat.

No one likes a bad meal and most people get hungry after a day of travel. Be the hero and look up a nearby restaurant with good reviews so you have a place in mind as soon as the need arises. The fewer decisions made in the throes of hanger, the better. Bonus points if you do this when you travel with coworkers – you’ll be the one that prevents the awkward indecision that comes with a group.

If any of the above sounds familiar to you, well you might want to do yourself one small favor and fly in a day before your first meetings so you have ample time to get your head back on straight.

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