Traveling for work can be a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at it. There are some great aspects of business travel, like visiting new, exciting places or staying at a fancy hotel with a room just for yourself that make it worthwhile.

Dealing with flights, hotels and transportation, on the other hand, can be a drag.

The only way to completely look at business travel in a positive light is by eliminating the stress that comes with those negatives. To point you in the right direction, here are seven essential practices to ensure an easier, stress-free business trip.

Expedited Traveler Status

Apply to the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Pre3 program for a quicker security briefing every time you fly. For $85 every five years, you can speed through security — and skip removing your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and other amenities. If you’re traveling within the next few months, submit an online application and schedule an appointment at one of its 380-plus enrollment centers. With a quick background check and fingerprinting, you’ll be set.

Rewards Programs

Rewards programs are key for every frequent traveler, and this works for airlines and hotels. Members of rewards programs often receive special perks alongside travel points, such as early boarding, priority hotel rooms and even first-class upgrades. Be loyal to a specific airline or brand and it’ll treat you well.

There’s an App for That

AwardWallet. Track your points and miles from all your accounts with one simple app. You will also get notified when your balances change and before your points expire; that way you can use your points at the perfect time.

TripIt. This app creates an itinerary in a calendar format by forwarding all of your confirmation emails from hotels, flights, car rentals and restaurants, so all your plans are in one place.
Evernote. Everything you’ve written, annotated and collected on any format, all in one place. This is useful when putting together presentations from the road.

PackPoint. It’s the packing list to end all packing lists. All you need to do is tell the app where you’re going and on which dates. A full checklist of what to pack based on length of stay, climate and weather will be generated in seconds. The best part? Checklists can be shared with friends and coworkers.

Just In Case

The last thing you need is a delayed flight and missing your meeting or hotel check-in time. It’s always a good idea to pick an earlier flight that will get you to where you need to be a little while before you need to be there, since the extra time will decrease stress. And, you might get to sneak in some extra time to explore your destination.

Skip Baggage Check

Many airlines charge extra fees for checking baggage, ranging from $25-45 for just one bag. Should you accidently have a bag that’s oversized or overweight, you’ll be hit with a harsh fee that can more than double the cost. Save your money and stick to just bringing a carry-on and a personal item. Not only does this save you money, but it also saves you time and stress.

By skipping the baggage check, you won’t have to worry about waiting by the carousel after your flight for your luggage and possibly missing your ride, meeting or hotel check-in. You also won’t have to worry about the possibility of the airline sending your luggage on the wrong flight (or losing it).

Booking Your Hotel

Waiting to book your hotel until the day you arrive can give you access to the best rooms for the best rates. If the unknown stresses you out, there is no shame in skipping the last minute deals and spending the extra dollar to secure a hotel room.

Charge Up

Not much is more stressful than your phone battery dying, especially when you’re in a new place and may need to rely on it for emergencies. Make sure you keep your electronics fully charged before you get on the plane, as not all aircraft have charging capabilities. To eliminate another checklist item you have to remember the morning of the flight, charge your electronics overnight so they will be ready in the morning.
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Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and [email protected].