By Damon M. Banks
We’ve all seen them: the chicly dressed, sleekly packed, unflustered travelers who float through airport security lines, always stay on schedule and know the best restaurants and attractions at any destination. They’re part of an elite group of businesspeople whose commutes include voyages across states or even countries, and they look anything but travel-weary.
Even the infrequent traveler can trek like one of these seasoned pros—you just need to know how to plan ahead and take advantage of the technology and amenities available to business travelers today. In the following pages, several veteran travelers let us in on their best tips and little-known secrets for making the most of working on the road.
Good on the Go
Describing celebrated philanthropist Adrienne Arsht’s travels as “frequent” is a bit of an understatement, as her charitable work and passion for the arts has her calling New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami home.
“Coincidentally, my first job out of law school was in the legal department for Trans World Airlines,” Arsht explains. Since her days of flying standby to make quick jaunts to London, Paris, Madrid, Rome and Hong Kong, she’s become a savvy traveler who knows that work travels are often easiest with a little help.
“When it comes to hotels, take a few minutes to let the hotel know of your personal preferences in regards to the room [specifications], and take the time to get to know the hotel staff,” she says. “They can be very helpful throughout the entire stay. I often travel alone, and cannot tell you how often the hotel’s staff has been there to assist in everything from setting up last-minute reservations to assisting with the rear zipper of my dress before a formal event.”
Much of Arsht’s work is up and down the East Coast, and she favors Amtrak’s Acela train to take her to her destinations. “Because the trains are very reliable and provide the ability to easily get some work done during the travel, I have come to adore the service and the Amtrak staff over these years,” she says. Without a doubt, she always recommends the Red Cap service when traveling with Amtrak. For the price of a fair tip, the staff will whisk you and your luggage off to the train ahead of general boarding. With that out of the way, Arsht is free to put on some soft slippers and get some work done in her seat, before the train is even en route.
Hall of Fame Flier
No stranger to travel, Annika Sorenstam changed the game of golf for women during her 15-year World Golf Hall of Fame career. In 2008, she stepped away from professional golf to focus on her family and phenomenally successful Annika-branded businesses, including the Annika Academy, Annika Financial Group, Annika Course Design, Annika Collection of apparel by Cutter & Buck and signature wines. A skillful multitasker, Sorenstam makes work travels fun by getting the inside scoop on each city.
“Asking the locals is the best way to truly experience a destination, whether [you ask] a friend, business associate or the concierge at the hotel,” she says. “Also, it’s much easier today with social media since one tweet or Facebook post about restaurant recommendations can lead to 100 ideas.”
When it comes to packing, however, Sorenstam is all business. “When it comes to my bags, I try to always pack my carry-on as if I’ll be stuck somewhere,” she explains of her method. “This usually [includes packing] chargers for my phone and computer with some extra clothes.”
And her diligent packing has paid off in the past. On one occasion, she had to sleep on planes for three consecutive nights in order to stay on schedule. Most of her trips are now precisely planned down to the minute.
Her top tip for travelers? “My best advice is: You never know when you could get delayed, so pack like a Girl Scout.”
Scott Poniewaz has been an avid traveler for as long as he can remember. As the director of FoundersCard, a global membership community which provides its members with access to networking opportunities and premier travel, hotel, business and lifestyle benefits, he is required to, essentially, be everywhere at once. While working closely with a network of more than 15,000 entrepreneurs, managing the member services team and hosting events across the globe makes for a hectic lifestyle, Poniewaz thrives on the action. “It’s a crazy travel schedule, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he says.
Spending so much time on the road and in the air requires shrewd packing, which Poniewaz has down to a science. “I think the key is to be able to pack multipurpose clothes that allow me to dress up and dress down easily,” he says. “I also roll a lot of my clothes, which allows pants to generally stay less wrinkled, but also allows me to maximize the internal space of the suitcase.”
Once he’s gotten the packing and unpacking out of the way, Poniewaz believes in indulging in at least one thing he enjoys while in a new city, whether it’s the performing arts, a jog to take in some of the sights and get to know the area, or simply a unique lunch or dinner option. “Personally, I am a huge foodie,” he admits. “So ahead of my trips, I do my best to dig out the best meal options. On a recent Paris trip, I made it a point to get a hot chocolate from Angelina [Tearoom] and sought out a local steak frites favorite from a client’s recommendation.
“I always make it a point to get out of the hotel and to ask around for recommendations on the must-dos,” he explains. “[I] always try my best to enjoy the localized experience.”
CEO Matthew Mueller’s company, Knot Standard, has him constantly living out of a suitcase thanks to its showrooms across three continents. The company crafts custom suits from fine English and Italian fabrics and serves more than 80 countries, which has made Mueller into an expert traveler who enjoys bringing his family along for the ride.
As a connoisseur of looking sharp even on the go, Mueller is a fan of splitting items between bags when you travel with others. “If you lose a bag, your traveling companion isn’t walking around in style while you’re rocking the same T-shirt for five days,” he says. “Travel is about shared experiences, shared luggage and, yes, shared disasters.”
Mueller admits that “me time” can be hard to come by when traveling for business, but he remains committed to making the most of every minute he has in each destination and his suggestions are simple. “Research,” he says. “You don’t have to go overboard or have too much advance notice. I take a quick glance through TripAdvisor for attractions and restaurants, then Viator for an easy way to book activities.”
Being able to enjoy each destination while staying on schedule implies that minimizing jetlag is a crucial element of each trip, and Mueller is a big proponent of the Anti-Jet Lag Diet developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. “It cuts jet lag by seven times when heading west and 16 times when heading east, and is quite literally a miracle cure,” he describes. “The only catch is that you need to start a few days before you fly, but it makes the difference between exhaustion for an entire week or a one-day, jet-lag equivalent of a bad hangover.”
Although she’s a frequent traveler herself, Ramel Kelly has a different perspective on travel as the executive director of national accounts for Loews Hotels & Resorts. She has seen firsthand the interactions between travelers and hotels, and understands the importance of the little things when hosting people on business trips.
Free Wi-Fi is always available not only in guest rooms at Loews Hotels & Resorts, but also in common areas and even by the pools, so that guests don’t miss out on some sunshine while catching up on emails or putting the finishing touches on a report. She advises business travelers to always take full advantage of all hotel amenities and reminds them that the hotel staff is there for them.
“While at Loews Philadelphia Hotel, an event’s speaker realized he had forgotten to pack a tie,” she recalls. “With no place to buy a tie at 7 o’clock in the morning, one of the Loews employees quickly took off his tie and handed it to the speaker.” Many guests may think of this as quite a gesture, but Kelly notes that “it’s instinct” for hotel employees.
The Loews staff makes every effort to bring guests anything they may have forgotten to pack, from cufflinks to electronic adapters, so that travelers don’t have to waste valuable time shopping for replacements.
And whether you’re trying to find the best restaurant to impress a client or fit some leisure time into your workday, Kelly says that hotel staff is, again, your best bet. “The concierge is the backbone to any hotel,” she says. “At Loews, we have some of the best in the business. It’s great when business travelers are able to bring along their family members to make the most of their travel, and our concierges are accustomed to planning events for the spouses or family members throughout the day, but are also familiar with accommodating for business schedules so they always aim to find times each day that the couple or family can meet for meals or activities together.”
In addition to their willingness to please, concierges and other hotel staff members are also locals with valuable insight that you cannot buy. “I can’t stress enough the absolute wealth of information available with our staff,” Kelly says. “They can do everything possible to find that must-have ticket or simply create a unique experience where guests can live like a local for a day.”
Favorite Travel Bags
It’s a journey in itself to discover that perfect bag to help you maneuver in today’s world of business travel. With the number of electronic devices, paperwork and other items that travelers must carry with them, a place for everything is crucial. Here are several of the best bags available for business travelers that don’t sacrifice fashion for function.
Will Leather Goods’ Washed Italian Leather duffle fits into overhead compartments on all standard planes, $595 at willleathergoods.com.
The Victorinox Werks Traveler 5.0 East/West garment bag will get clothes to their destination wrinkle-free, $399.99 at victorinox.com.
Filson’s rolling carry-on is made with lightweight, water-resistant nylon and is outfitted with interior cotton elastic straps to secure items, $495 at filson.com.
Killspencer’s Weekender 3.0 in black nylon features a leather strap that conforms to your body’s shape, $425 at killspencer.com.
Muji’s small hard carry travel suitcase is made of durable yet lightweight polycarbonate and comes with a useful wheel lock, $175.50 at muji.us.