Traveling for work isn't exciting as it sounds sometimes. It is nothing like leisure travel. Whether you're a consultant or flight attendant, life on the road can start to wear you out. You sleep in a hotel about 3-5 nights a week. You get fat from eating out every day. You forget how to cook. You start to pay rent for a place you barely sleep in. Oh and you blame traveling for being single because you're never in one place to even start a relationship.
So...how do we make the best of it? You need to learn the tips and secrets on leveraging work travel for personal gain. Corporate treks can definitely come in handy. You don't really get to explore the new city when you're working until 8pm only to fly home before the weekend hits. For the past year and a half, I've been flying out to other cities every week for work. Sometimes I leave Sunday nights. If I start missing my bed I book Monday morning flights and return Thursday (Friday if my manager needs more work done). Flying from Atlanta to New York, Florida, Delaware, you name it. But with that kind of travel, there are ways you can make it work in your favor. If you are an avid traveler, most of your money goes to booking trips right? Think of this as another form of compensation. Here are some tips to work your miles to a free flight, hotel stay or easier travel.
This is key. Unless it's a required procedure by your company, don't feel bad that you didn't book the cheapest flight. It's already an inconvenience to you to not work in your home town so book a nonstop flight around the times that work for you. Stick to a brand. I currently live in Atlanta so Delta is obviously the best investment to make here. Since I do invest in Delta, they also have promotions with their partners SPG (Westin, Aloft, The W, etc.) and Hertz Car Rental service. Now when I fly on a Delta flight, I get bonus points towards my SPG rewards. The investment will pay off by stacking miles and elite statuses. If your company has the big bucks to have you travel every week or every month, they can spare a few extra dollars. Because of my job, I have elite statuses on Delta and United (due to a matching program which I'll bring up later), two free checked bags on all flights, priority boarding, and TSA-precheck. I have elite statuses with SPG (my favorite - better exchange rate on points) and Marriott which gives me 4pm checkouts, automatic room upgrades, free wifi, and sometimes free breakfast.
CORPORATE CREDIT CARDS
Most companies provide you with a credit card when traveling. If your company doesn't do this you can skip this part, but generally AMEX partners up with the big corporations. Currently here are the cool perks AMEX offers for corporate platinum members:
- 10 complimentary Gogo inflight internet passes each calendar year
- Complimentary, unlimited Wi-Fi access with the Boingo
- Receive one Global Entry ($100) statement credit or one TSA Pre✓TM ($85) statement credit every 5 years
- Receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as baggage fees, flight change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases
- Free access to airport lounges (including Delta and United)
TSA-PRECHECK AND GLOBAL ENTRY
More than likely, if you are a consistent traveler for work, you job will either pay for your global entry/TSA PreCheck or your corporate credit card will waive the fee. Don't know what those do?
It's da best. Promise.
You start to feel like a Queen (or King). Once you get on up in that Silver status for airlines or Platinum statues for hotel, you get treated well. Upgrades here, free checked bags there, first to board here... Traveling becomes really easy. Again, if you have a Corporate credit card, you can even get free access into the lounges with American Express Corporate Platinum card. I'm always there soaking up the free snacks and internet. Thanks AMEX :)
CASH IN FOR A FREE TRIP
Now that the points are reeling in and you got the moolah in points, start turning those bad boys over for a good free vacation. My boyfriend and I took a trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai for 8 days and all of our hotel nights were free! Plus with the upgrade because of my status, we had suites the entire week. A random getaway to San Francisco for us got us free domestic flights and hotel. Was nice treating him for once!
During my little adventures over the past year, I've grown to really like the following brands for corporate travel.
Hotel: SPG hands down. This includes the Westin, Aloft, Sheraton, The W, etc. Marriott is crap when it comes to cleanliness, look, and point conversion for free nights (sorry Marriott). With three days of sleeping in NYC, I received a free night in points. I boosted up my point system with the SPG Credit Card if you're interested. Great benefits there.
Car Rental: I liked Hertz only because I get miles on Delta too. But I swear I've been traveling and it takes an arm and a left to get free weekend trip! I hear good things about Enterprise as well if you want something else. Hertz makes it easy when you reserve a car in advance, all you have to do is walk up to it and hop in. No check in necessary. Just sign up as a member.