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Business Travelers’ Pet Peeves

According to a survey published in USA Today, what irks business travelers’ the most when they are on the road are:

* Flight delays 51%
* Being away from loved ones 33%
* Not getting a restful sleep 30%
* Airport security 27%

The USA Today survey was taken before the Christmas Day 2009 ‘underwear bomber’ incident, so airport security may rate a lot higher now, but the overall pet peeves will probably remain the same.

Our own survey taken at SmartWomenTravelers.com showed similar complaints; balancing home with work and travel as women’s biggest complaint and flight delays as the next highest travel issue.

What are some ways to help alleviate these pet peeves so you can enjoy your journey more?

Flight delays

Book flights for early in the day as much as possible. Planes are usually at their starting airport for the day and the crew has had sufficient hours between trips. As the day progresses, any earlier flight delay can cascade down to the next flight, which may be yours. In the summer, afternoon showers in the south can delay flights and affect the entire system.

Before booking a flight, use FlightStats.com to see the on-time percentages. Follow Vegas odds in this case…the higher the on-time percentage, the better a chance your specific flight will arrive on schedule.

Being Away from Loved Ones

Before leaving home, involve your kids in your upcoming trip so that you can share in the experience of your travels together. This will help relieve some of the guilt about being away from home, but also make it a fun learning experience for your kids as well.

Tips for involving your kids in your travels:

* Bring along one of their favorite stuffed animals (something small!) or their Flat Stanley and take a photo of their toy in the city you’re visiting.
* Cook foods together that reflect the culture of where you’re traveling to, and research online for interesting facts about the city’s customs that are fun to share with your kids.
* Have each child do daily writings in a journal and you do the same. Share your writings upon your return home.

When it comes to your spouse, touch base daily. If you say you’re going to call home at a certain time, do it. Even if something comes up, at least call at the designated time, explain what’s come up, and set a later time to talk. When the dependablepart is an issue, then wondering, doubt and assumptions start. Talk about their day and the events at home rather than sensationalizing your trip. Use video cameras (Skype video is great!) to feel more connected to your loved ones.

Email or phone your friends to keep these relationships strong. Create a plan to reach out to at least one friend a day to say Hi and see what’s new with them.

Not getting a restful sleep

Pilots, flight attendants and travelers definitely have challenges getting consistent good sleep. Hotel noises, waking up and not knowing where you’re at, and varying pillows and mattresses do nothing to help induce a solid night of zzzzz’s.

I love the scent of a spritz of lavender spray or, my favorite, Zen’s Purple Garden lavender sachet on my pillow. Lavender scent is known for its sleep-inducing qualities.

To block out hotel noises, I sleep with a pillow speaker attached to my iPod. Soft playing relaxing music helps me nod off without hearing doors close, elevators moving and people talking.

Quieting the mind an hour or so before bedtime also helps getting down to the business of falling asleep. For those of us (too often, me) who are online or working until the last minutes before bedtime, we need to give our minds time to relax instead of jumping into bed with worries about the undone to-do list looping through our brain. Tip: ask the hotel for a shut-down call about an hour before your desired sleep time.

Airport Security

I left the least fun pet peeve until last. Airport security is a necessary evil, so find the most enjoyable way to get through it as fast as you can!

Wear security-friendly clothes on travel day. For women: slip-on shoes, a sweater-set, no big metal jewelry or buttons, and no belts or collars that need to be all situated again on the other end of security. If you wear a jacket, you will most likely be asked to remove it, but sweater-sets don’t usually get tagged as undress items. Men: wear slip-on shoes as well. If you’re wearing a jacket, move all the items (wallet, coins, keys) from your slacks pockets in your coat before you get in line, and place your jacket in a TSA-bin. Be ready by having your belt and shoes off as well.

Look for the savviest travelers to get in line with. Avoid families with strollers at all costs, teens (they usually have drink bottles that they forget to take out of their bags), and tourists with lots of souvenir bags. Look for people with the above security-friendly clothes so that they go through security just as fast as you. A full line of people wearing big boots, sneakers and jackets and you’ll be in line way too long!

Happy traveling … and say good-bye to your travel pet peeves!

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