Top 10 Business Travel Tips for Mindset and Sanity - Christine Kane

Business travelers know this all too well.

“Annoying Thing A” happens.

“Business Traveler B” decides what to do.

Some days are a constant impetus/response pattern. Some of us get good at it.  Some of us pride ourselves on our inner peace in spite of Annoying Things A, B and C.

But here’s the kicker:

Even if you learn how to react well, you’re still just reacting. That’s why your proactive choices – the ones you determine in advance – are a key to a sense of confidence and inner peace when you travel for business.

So, here are my top 10 business travel tips for mindset and sanity…

Tip #10 – Do-able Self-Care.

No, I won’t tell you to go to a luxury spa in your spare time.

However, I will tell you to…

… sleep when you’re tired.

…pull off at the next exit when you have to pee instead of making yourself hold it.

…allow extra time to get places.

Travel takes energy.  When you don’t practice self-care in healthy do-able ways, you reach for it in unhealthy ways.

You eat hub-cap-sized plates of pasta, telling yourself you “deserve it.”  You drink 3 extra glasses of wine.  You numb out in front of the TV.  This isn’t self-care. This is self-medication.

One is pro-active. The other is reactive.

Tip #9 – Use headphones.

Whether you like music, audiobooks or meditations — having a pair of earbuds or headphones within reach is crucial.

I highly recommend uploading the following brain-changers to your phone:

I also love They have an app that let’s you access your entire library of purchased books from their server. Wildly convenient!

Now, when the baby next to you on the plane begins screaming… you can simply plug in and get lost in learning.

Tip #8 – Carry a water bottle

Please don’t drink from plastic bottles anymore. Get a SIGG bottle or something similar.  Pop it in your purse, and fill up as you go.  You need extra water for hydrating as you travel.  (And those ridiculously tiny water cups on the airplanes? Don’t get me started!)

FYI:  Most hotel gyms have filtered water dispensers. Bring your SIGG with you when you work out and fill up!

Tip #7 – Get Travel Apps you’ll actually use.

My favorite Travel Apps are:

AroundMe:  to find anything and everything within walking or driving distance of where you are staying)

Uber:  To get door-to-door car service in any major city without hassle or waving your hands all over the place.

TripIt:  Your assistant can upload your itinerary right to this handy little app, and all of your info is in one place. Evernote is handy for this as well.

Passport: For easy parking meter payment without digging for quarters.

Audible:  See Tip #9.

Tip #6 – Fly First Class. Or Board the Plane Last.

I know, I know.  You’re on a budget. But if you travel often, you must learn to budget first class into your year.   My clients resist this for a while, but then thank me profusely when they finally take my advice.  Air travel has become a cattle call. The only one who’se going to honor your energy is you.

If you simply refuse to fly first class, then do this:

When the gate agent calls the zones, let everyone else trip over each other so they can then stand in the hot jet way punching their cell phones.

Give inner peace a chance. Wait until the final boarding call to board.

Tip #5 – Work out.

Nothing uplevels your mood like a great work-out! Wake up a little earlier, or find the hotel gym after you check into your room.

Tip #4 – Wash off your travel

If I have the opportunity, I always take a shower after I fly. I call it “washing off the travel.”  If nothing else, shower before you climb into bed. Try not to sleep with your travel still on you.

Tip #3 – Forgive unexpected expenses

You rush to the airport in your rental car after the conference. There’s no time to fill the tank. You end up paying $45 for a teaspoon of gas at the Hertz desk. Argh!

Travel expenses like this can make you crazy. You can spend the day beating yourself up or criticizing the world for its unfair policies.

Don’t waste your precious creative energy.

Travel is filled with lots of unexpected expenses.  Your money will get spent because of A) stupid things you did, B) unforeseen situations, or C) the fine print.

Do yourself a big favor.  Breathe and let it go because A) you’re traveling, B) you’re wealthy, and C) you’re worth it.

Tip #2 – Think Ritual

A business trip is not the time to start a new diet or yoga practice.

You can, however, keep small daily rituals.  Write in your gratitude journal, even if you feel tired. Wake up 15 minutes early and remind yourself of your intentions for the day.  Personal rituals put you in charge of your day.

Tip #1 – Pay for Help.

And your number one travel tip is all about honoring your heart, soul, and physical being!  You must get over the crazy idea that getting help is a waste of money. It’s actually an investment in YOU.

Many years ago, I lugged around my suitcases, my computer bag.  I rented the cheapest cars and dragged my butt all over the place to save a few extra bucks per day. I prided myself on saving a buck or two.


I pride myself on hiring a car service to pick me up at baggage claim. I’m not into struggle anymore.

Get massive support when you travel.

Bell hops, airport limos, room service, concierge service. These are extra expenses, they are investments in your energy.

(Plus, the extra $75 you might spend costs less than a visit to the chiropractor when you get home!)

Got a favorite travel tip or travel app?  Share it below please…

  • Natalie Morisset

    One key thing I learned long ago when I was parted with my luggage for 3 months: make sure there is a tag bearing your name and phone number INSIDE every piece of luggage. Outside tags can get torn off.

  • Susie Mordoh

    Great tips Christine!

    One of my must haves in my carry-on is an extension cord. If I am at the airport I can charge my phone at the gate without having to sit on the floor and when I am in my hotel room it allows me work in bed (for a bit) without losing the charge.

    Having a KTN number (PSA precheck) makes things easier too!

  • Mary Maru

    What great tips! I especially appreciate #4 and #5. Breaking a sweat and taking a shower are musts for me at the end of a busy travel day.

    A must-have for me is a dedicated mobile hotspot. Hotel and airport wifi are fine for checking email. But if you need to be online to do your work like I do it can save a lot of time and frustration hassling with a slow, spotty internet connection. I’ve been using a KarmaGo for a couple of years and it’s worked well for me.

    I agree with others who’ve recommended applying for TSA clearance. If you travel outside the country I suggest going for the Global Entry version to get all the benefits of TSA precheck plus get you through US Customs faster.

  • Abdul Hameed

    Wenderful subject I like and love to travel and my hapet on traveling is I am so so planing step of my traveling to any where of the world so the 10 tipes ( is 100% important to me, no adult). ( 🌹🌹🌹). I always write step by step my traveling trip, which mean ( do check up list of things to do).

  • Cindy Murray

    Great tips. Here’s one I’ve found helpful over the years. I travel a lot, and I used to always forget something…my toothbrush, my comb, medications, the book I was reading…. I started a list of items that I commonly take with me on a trip so that when I’m packing, I can refer to the list to make sure I remembered everything. The list is on my computer, so I always have access to it. It grows and evolves over time — I often take items off the list or put new items on — but it’s been a great way to make sure I don’t ever forget anything important ever again.

  • Christi Bender

    I try to do carry on only and if you are a frequent flyer you can often be in an early zone to board and not have to worry about space – or check the bag “at the gate” and then board later.

    The BEST EVER wrinkle releaser in a travel size. Don’t leave home without it.

    Print out all your documents for the trip and put them in the order you need them. Parking reservation form. Flight itinerary. Boarding pass. Rental car confirmation. Hotel confirmation. Event registration. I take the papers with me but I also take pictures of them all so I can find them on my phone step by step through the process. That way I never have to wonder “where next”.

    Always have images of your identification (drivers license and passport) and front/back of credit cards in a “findable” email somewhere. That way if you lose your wallet or ID you can access it via any phone or computer. Leave copies of all this with your assistant too so they could be delivered if you need them somewhere and can only get in touch with her.

    Take a manila envelope with you and put EVERY Receipt regarding the trip into it. That way you can track all your expenses and don’t have to look through your wallet, briefcase, backpack, event books, goody bags, pockets etc. A small envelope can be easily tucked away and is a great way to stay organized in the middle of chaos so that you only have one place to look for paperwork when you get home.

    Take extra battery packs for cell phone, ipad etc. Having backup power means you can not fight for lousy plug seating in the airport.

    Take chocolate for the flight attendants. Give them some as you board and let them know you appreciate all they do. You’ll get great service the whole flight. 🙂

    Wear slip on shoes or get be TSA pre approved.

    Have 3 interchangeable “default” wear anywhere, any season outfits ready to go that use the same shoes so packing is a no decision event.

    • Lisa

      Christi, I bow to you for your level of clever and thoughtful organization. I just love your travel tips! They will be helpful for me, thank you so much.

  • Susan

    3 tips: 1) I pack a really small spritzer bottle – on arrival I hang all my clothes on hangars and spray with water – next day, they’re wrinkle-free and ready to wear – haven’t ironed in years; 2) now the suitcase is empty and each time I undress, I pack the worn clothing into the empty suitcase – by the time I’m ready to go home, all I do is throw in the make-up and electronics etc. 3) apply for TSA check-through and skip the long security lines, taking off shoes and hauling out computer etc.

    • Lisa

      Ok Susan – I love the spritzer bottle and spraying the clothes to remove wrinkles! What a fabulous idea. Thank you!

  • Wendy Pitts Reeves

    I pack for air travel the same way I used to pack for backpacking. I try to carry everything I need in a small, lightweight, carry on if at all possible – which means frugal, lean and double-duty packing as much as possible. The one thing I would add is that if you’re an introvert, I think having the window seat is best. I actually love flying – in spite of the hassle factor – so I love looking out the window at all that beautiful open space. And as I do, I can at least pretend that I’m alone for a little while… 🙂

  • Lorraine McKnight

    I don’t travel for business anymore however when I did, I always kept my toiletries stocked in its bag and I rotated suits and workout clothes (4 days worth) for a week away once or twice per month. Years ago when flights were cancelled or delayed due to snow or bad weather and people would freak out and curse out the stewards, I would wait until it got quiet and I would quietly sympathize with them and ask for drink and food passes and frequent flier miles, which they kindly gave me. After making the person laugh I would walk away and later find out that I had been bumped up to first class when there was room. There is nothing like the warm towels, shrimp cocktails and peace in first class. I did not like sales, but I loved traveling.

  • Susan

    Hi Christine,

    This is a wonderful article. I always love new tips. One of my favorite travel apps is JotNot Pro. It allows me to snap a photo of my receipts and then mail them to myself or save to a file so I have all my trip expenses in one place.

    Something I was surprised that you didn’t cover was staying in a nice hotel. Not super fancy but one with a comfortable mattress, nice towels, and in a safe neighborhood.

    • Christine Kane

      Susan – Ooo! Thanks for the app tip! I use evernote for this exact thing (valet parking numbers, etc)

      As for nice hotels – they rack right up there for sure. Most of my clients are used to me challenging them to stay in nice hotels. (It’s why my events are at the W! )

  • Carol

    My husband is the weekly ‘glamorous’ business traveler … I always pack him a (couple) cheese sandwiches for the flight. He often has to leave on a Sunday afternoon and these can carry him through the flight, plane changes, delays and often dinner once he reaches his destination. After slugging through the airport(s) and ending up in yet another hotel on a Sunday night so as to be bright and alert for Monday morning, this discourages the ‘hub cap’ (loved that phrase) plates of spaghetti or feeling ‘a little bit hungry’ but just too tired to go out (and room service gets old). A healthy cheese sandwich (NOT American cheese, the real thing) on whole grain bread … MUCH better!

  • Fatma

    Great tips. I travel frequently and have a very similar list.
    Donna Thomas the stewardess will take care of your carry on and find a place for it and give it to you at the end of the flight.

  • Donna Thomas

    Thanks for the great tips, Christine! Regarding #6 Board the plane last. This may not work out well if you take carry-on, as I do. Often all the over head bins are full if you board last. But if you check your bags, this is a good strategy!

  • Ian

    I have to agree with Carrie on proper English tea bags! My family has been toting them around for two generations to get a good cuppa on the go.

  • Carrie

    Great tips, Christine! I have travelled a lot for pleasure rather than business, although now I have my own business I will be travelling for business, too, so these are great reminders.
    A favourite travel tip of mine would be to pack some favourite foods/snacks/teabags. Zip-lock bags, for example, are handy to use, say, for some proper English teabags, especially when travelling overseas where the availalbe English breakfast teabags are not quite the same! (Not strong enough basically!)

  • Roxanne

    So right, Christine. After my last trip I spent 4 days resting my painful lower back & I was unable to get to my planned projects. Excellent article, thanks.

  • Debby Lissaur

    Because *sometimes* luggage gets lost,
    1) charge your iphone, ipad, etc. fully before leaving (charge at the waiting area before you go & even on board if the plane offers this. Sometimes a device will say “not charging” but all that means is you can’t increase the charge much beyond the percentage you’re currently at, but it will keep it from going any lower in all likelihood)
    2) Bring wall charges on board with you (along with a car travel charger) in case that luggages is lost or you will have to buy a new one or have no devices.
    3) Bring a change of clothes with you in case of lost luggage
    4) get a really unique luggage tag (either a unique color or even doctor it up with colorful duct tape) so that it’s easier to see which black travel suitcase is yours.
    5) Bring a few energy bars (or similar) in your carryon in case you are delayed or get in when restaurants/room service are closed.
    6) put moisturizer on your face to counter dryness (using container that under 3oz)
    7) have fresh business cards on you b/c you never know!
    8) If you’re in NY, the HopStop app is great to navigate the crazy subway & bus systems, and provides walking options, too.

  • Steve

    Christine, awesome article. Thanks! I fly about 5 days per week.
    Here is just part of my list. Some items you mentioned already:

    Ear plugs – soft foam
    Water bottle
    Eye mask (helps sleep)
    Inflatable neck pillow (prevents sore neck while sleeping)
    Snack bars
    Fresh fruit/veggies/nuts/seeds
    Ear Buds (or noise canceling headsets as Belinda mentioned)
    Spare battery to charge phone or laptop
    Downloaded eBooks, podcasts, audiobooks

  • Stephanie Benedict

    I agree with Belinda Smith: Bose noise-cancelling headphones are a must–especially for those of us still flying in steerage, er, coach. They cut the thrum of airplane engines and help protect your sanity AND your ears. Also, for long flights: something to put your feet up on. There are several kinds you can buy, but I just make sure that my briefcase is under the seat in front of me, and that I can put my feet on it at least some of the time, to releave the pressure on the backs of my thighs.

  • Belinda Smith

    Under the heading of can’t-do-without when I’m traveling, let me suggest the Bose noise-canceling headphones. Yes, they’re an investment, but they gave me back my sanity. LOVE them.

    • Christiane Wolf

      Hi Belinda,
      Love your tip with the noise-cancelling headphones. Which ones do you use? The all-around the ears or do the plugs work well, too? Thanks.

      • Belinda Smith

        I’ve tried both, and I prefer the all-around-the-ears. For me, they block out everything vs. the plugs blocking out most. They’re a little bigger, but they have been my saving grace. (I travel on planes 2-3 times per week.)

  • James Navé

    Never thought about boarding on the last call. Good strategy. One small detail, what if the plane is full and they have no room for your carry-on which you didn’t check in order to avoid the wait at baggage claim after the plane lands?

    • Christine Kane

      Yeah that’s a thing for sure James. In that case, rush to the front of the line, elbow everyone out of the way and get yours! 🙂

      Actually i only ever do carryons that will fit under the seat – so it’s not as much of an issue.

  • Carolyn Connell

    What a great article, Christine! Thank you for sharing all these great apps. I agree wholeheartedly in paying a little more to smooth your path while travelling. Haven’t quote gotten to first -class yet , though. Don’t mind economy for short flights. Here’s one thing I will add: be one of the last off the plane. You aren’t standing in the aisle not moving, wondering who will let whom into the line or rush forward. Walk leisurely off the plane. And your bag might even be waiting for you on the carousel by the time you get there!

    • Wendy Pitts Reeves

      I’m with you on this one, Carolyn. I’d MUCH rather wait and let everyone else rush off! 🙂

    • Christine Kane

      love it carolyn ,thanks!

      (though i take my own advice and only fly first class now – so i like getting off the very first 🙂 )