One of the first things you’re told (at least that’s my hope) as a new employee in a traveling role is to sign up for loyalty accounts. You wouldn’t believe the number of points and miles I see left on the table by colleagues. My hope with this post is that you learn these basic tips and don’t make the same mistake.

Sign up for Loyalty Accounts

a plane taking off from a runway

Your first step is to begin signing up for as many loyalty programs as you can. If you feel overwhelmed, you should start with thinking about which airline dominates your home airport and sign up for that loyalty program first. For me, since I’m based in Philly, my home airline is American so almost every time I fly for work it’s on an American airplane.

Second, choose a hotel program with valuable points such as Starwood (SPG). With SPG Starpoints, even if you don’t want to redeem them for hotel stays, they are transferable to a ton of airlines. Again, I know you can’t always choose which hotels you stay in when traveling for work, but try to stay loyal to one.

Lastly, sign up for a rental car loyalty program. My preferred company is Hertz, but National is also really good.

Pick a Travel Goal

I know the last thing you want to do after being on the road 100+ nights per year for work is travel some more. Though this time it’s different. Now you’re traveling for pleasure and it’s important to be able to unwind. For me, this often means leaving the country and holing up in the mountains of Southern Italy. For you this may mean the Maldives or Bali.

Once you start your points and miles journey, be sure to pick a goal. Can’t think of any? I’ll give you one — stockpile enough American Airlines miles to fly Japan Airlines business class to Tokyo. Picking a goal will not only give you the motivation to be smart about your travel, but it will also force you to take a vacation and much-needed break!

Credit Cards

Some companies give their employees some pretty premium business credit cards like the American Express Platinum. I’m not so lucky but I do have the AMEX Platinum for personal use. For me, this credit card is worth it just for the lounge access. I’m able to use the Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia, the Delta SkyLounge whenever I’m flying Delta, and various other Priority Pass lounges. Being stuck in the airport because of a delay is no fun, but suffering through in a lounge makes it much more tolerable.

If you find yourself traveling a ton, especially in airports, consider signing up for a premium credit card like the AMEX Platinum or the Chase Sapphire Reserve (or Preferred). I know the annual fees are hard to stomach, but generally, the benefits outweigh the negatives. If the premium fee cards aren’t for you, a personal favorite is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®Invalid request error occurred. which currently offers 40,000 points (equivalent to $400 in travel credit) for an $89 annual fee.

Invest in a nice Carry-on (rollaboard)

I can’t recommend this enough. Traveling with a rollaboard suitcase is a must. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the airport and hopped on the standby list for an earlier flight. This wouldn’t be as simple if I checked a bag, so this is where the rollaboard really gives you some return on investment.

Personally, I use a Travelpro Magna 22″ which isn’t the flashiest in the world, but it does the job nicely. You don’t need anything special here, but if you’re part of the “buy it for life” crowd I’d maybe recommend a Briggs and Riley because of the top-notch customer service and quality.

In Summary

Traveling for work isn’t always great, though there are ways to make it more fun. These tips will help set you up for future success in traveling the world for as little as possible. I’m curious to know your tips so please leave a comment below and drop your thoughts!

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