The Faster Way to Free Travel
5 Strategies for Business Travelers to Adopt Now
- by Business Strategist, and Work-Life Balance Expert, Susan Sly | 4 mins 30 secs read
In the world of business travel, it is all about status. In other words, the more you travel, the better the perks. From free upgrades, to lounge access, to being able to speak to a real person, status does have its privileges. Unfortunately, when people are new to entrepreneurship, or have been operating as solopreneurs, they might not understand how to successfully negotiate the world of business travel. If you do it right, not only will you start flying like a star, you will also rack up points to be able to take your family on amazing vacations by paying next to nothing.
The challenge is that it is very tempting to go onto the large discount brokerages and pay a low fare. Saving fifty dollars on a flight may feel very gratifying however the short-term gain can lead to long-term pain with poor seat choices, lack of status miles, no upgrades, and massive challenges associated with changing a booking. Years ago, a mentor of mine gave me incredible counsel. He said, ‘Susan – pick your carrier, sign up for its rewards program, get a credit card associated with that program, and stick with it.’ Thanks to his commonsense advice, our family has received incredible travel perks including once all six of us being upgraded to business class from Toronto to Hong Kong.
I am actually writing this article at the beach in Maui. This morning, I went to check-in our family for our flight and discovered that our oldest daughter had been upgraded to business class for free. She has accumulated enough status to receive free upgrades and points to fly back and forth to visit friends on the East Coast. This was my inspiration as I realized that many people book their travel without considering the long-term outcome; instead they think only about the price in the moment as opposed to how loyalty can lead to thousands of dollars in free perks that tend to get missed chasing a meager discount.
With this in mind, consider the following 5 tips to help you rack up points faster and start flying in style
1. Think of Your Long Game
If you have a family, or even relatives that you would like to see more often, my advice is to think long-term. As entrepreneurs, we can write off a great number of business travel related expenses however from a tax perspective, we should always follow the rules – a vacation is a vacation and not deductible. Yes, it is great if you take your family to Jamaica and talk business with your new friend at the swim-up bar however that does not make this a business trip and if you are ever audited, your auditor will likely laugh in your face.
Planning vacation related trips is something many of us dream of so consider your long game. Where is it you, and your family, want to travel two years from now? What if all those airline tickets were free because you had been wise about accumulating points? That can be a possibility if you are smart about it.
A great thing to do is to make a list of vacation destinations and do some research into carriers that fly there. If you can align your business carrier with your vacation carrier, you have it made.
One of the reasons I am aligned with my carrier is that they have great international partnerships and are part of the Star Alliance™ which flies everywhere we want to go.
2. Do Sign Up for Rewards
If you are new to business, you may find yourself travelling more frequently. Airline tickets for business purposes are tax deductible so why not rack up frequent flyer miles that you can use for vacations? This is what most business travelers do – they purchase their business-related flights and cash-in accrued miles for leisure. This year alone, I have used points to fly my nephews, and my kids to Maui and fly my family to Boston.
3. Choose a Credit Card That Is Associated With Your Rewards Program
If you want those vacation miles to accumulate faster, choose a credit card that offers points with your preferred carrier. Chase, as an example, offers the United Mileage Plus Card™ which has additional benefits such as airline lounge access. To rack up the points faster, choose a business and personal credit card, that is associated with your rewards – why not get those miles faster?
4. Avoid Using a Discount Service for Business Travel
When people are new to business, and do not understand the nuances of travel, they tend to revert to booking through the large discount sites to get better prices. This is a massive mistake. Generally speaking, if you should cancel your flight, or re-route it, the ordeal is ridiculous. Furthermore, you will not accrue the same amount of points for your flights and thus not increase your status.
Lastly, and this is a little rant I have, if you book through these carriers, and are not a member of the rewards program associated with the airline you are flying, you often must pay to check a bag! You may have saved a few bucks but in the end lost any savings paying for bags both ways.
5. Sign Your Partner and Kids Up For Your Rewards Program
If you do end up paying for some of your family members to fly, make sure they are enrolled in the rewards program as well. The more they fly, the more status they achieve. They will also qualify, depending on the carrier, for free luggage and if your family is as big as ours, that makes a significant difference.
Business travel can be exhausting so you might as well benefit from it. The next time you are sitting in a stuffy board room having an absurdly boring meeting, you can be dreaming of your next vacation and take comfort in all the points you are accumulating.
Susan Sly is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, certified NLP practitioner, coach, and trauma recovery specialist. Susan specializes in helping people become more productive so they can lead ridiculously fulfilling lives. She is the mother of five and has been working in human potential for over two decades.
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