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6 Ways to Improve Your Next Business Trip

This post was originally published on Shankman.com.

There are two types of people in the world: Those who absolutely hate business travel, and those who absolutely love it. I fall into the second category, and I have a theory why most people fall into the first.

Theory: Most people hate business travel because they don’t know how to make it work for them. They go through the motions without ever stopping to think that there are ways to make your trip not only a ton easier, but downright enjoyable.

I fly about 250,000 miles per year. That translates into being on a plane about twice a week, more or less. I’ve seen it all. I’ve been stranded in an airport so small that they forced us outside because they didn’t have any security after 9 p.m. I’ve seen the sunrise from some of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I’ve written five books, all entirely while on planes. I love to travel for business. Whether it’s speaking, consulting, or even being asked to make an appearance somewhere, it doesn’t take much to get me out the door. How do I handle it? Well, let me bust the chamber of secrets right open for you. Here’s why I love business travel and six super-easy ways to make it much more enjoyable for you.

1) Be the person with whom people want to get along

I don’t get on a plane without a huge bag of candy. The candy isn’t for me, however. It’s for the flight crew. I do this for many reasons, but the main one is this: Candy makes people happy. The flight crew has a super hard job, and they don’t get much love from the traveling public anymore. A simple bag of candy can change everything, resulting in a happier flight for over 300 people.

2) It’s all about the loyalty

The reason I get through airport security in three minutes anywhere in the world, get to pick any car in the rental facility and go without waiting in a single line, and get up to my hotel room in any city a second and a half after parking is simple: I’m loyal.

Example: I’m loyal to one airline, so my constant flying has earned me super high status, and I can avoid most of the regular security lines that can cost you an hour or more.

Same thing with car rental: I’m loyal to National Car Rental, so the second I hit the facility, I pick whichever car I want from the Emerald Aisle thanks to my membership in the Emerald Club, and immediately drive off. On my way, no muss, no fuss, and I can do it all from my cell phone with the National mobile app. Enrolling is free! If you’re a business traveler, why wouldn’t you sign up and be loyal to one company, especially one that makes your business travels easier and faster?

Let me put it another way: The less time I waste means more time to do things I love to do, whether it’s going for a run in a brand new city, finding the nearest drop zone and getting in a skydive, or just chilling out over a relaxing dinner, knowing that I’m not late for anything.

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3) A smile goes an incredibly long way

Let’s face it: While there are great ways to avoid the masses, skip the lines, and get where you want to go faster, the fact is, sometimes, weather, maintenance, or just bad luck is going to butt into your best laid plans. That’s when a smile comes in handy.

Recently I was stuck in Las Vegas, waiting for a new airplane to arrive. The delay? Four hours. I could have been miserable, sure. Instead, I decided to do something fun. I put my headphones in and walked the entire airport, three times. Over 40,000 steps later, (and a new monthly step high on my fitness tracker), I boarded the plane tired, and ready to get a few hours of sleep before landing. I was also enjoying the dopamine wash that came with a good workout, and as we all know, dopamine is the happy chemical. I was literally smiling when I walked onto the plane, and as far as I could tell, I was the only one doing so.

You can’t always choose how your travel situations go. But you can always choose how you react to them.

4) Build a half day of fun into every trip

Sounds like advice you’d give a six-year-old — which is actually where I got it from: my six-year-old. Last year I was talking about a business trip I had to take, and how I was going to be super busy for its entirety. She asked me, “Daddy, are you going to have any fun?” And while I consider what I do for a living super fun, I thought about what she said. Turns out, she had a point. Now, no matter where in the world I am, I try and build in an extra half day to do something I’d otherwise not normally get to do. Whether it’s exploring a new city, visiting a foreign museum, or even stopping by a local aquarium, I bring something fun home with me, and my daughter can’t wait to see the photos of how “daddy had his fun.”

5) Don’t forget to take care of yourself

Business travel can be super hard on your body. Different time zones, lost sleep, and a lack of healthy food options can wreak havoc on your system. Do what you can to prevent as many negative effects as possible. Every restaurant, whether an airport fast food place or a fancy five-star venue, can make you a salad with some grilled chicken. That’ll fill you up and won’t leave you feeling bloated or full of carbs, so you’ll be able to wake up early the next morning and hit the hotel gym before your full day of work. The simple act of moving for 45 minutes first thing in the morning has been shown again and again to improve everything about your day. It works for me!

6) Sometimes, we all need distractions

Wherever I go, I always make sure to have downloaded a few movies I’ve never seen before, and I make sure all my devices are charged. We never know what’s going to happen on any given trip and having the ability to keep yourself from boredom goes a long way towards making time fly. Don’t forget video games, and even digital books! There’s more content out there than ever before. Find something you love, and let it be your special “delay treat.”

With National Car Rental and The Emerald Club, Green Means Go ®. Join the club that puts you in control wherever you go.

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