Making Business Travel As Painless As Possible

Making Business Travel As Painless As Possible

Peter Shankman
Peter Shankman

Business travel is a huge part of Peter Shankman’s everyday life. As an author, keynote speaker, angel investor, and entrepreneur, he travels at least 250,000 miles per year, 60 percent to domestic locations and 40 percent to international ones. While this may seem daunting to some, he takes it in stride. “Maybe your commute is a train; mine is an airplane,” he says nonchalantly.

I caught up with Peter, who is based in New York City, between trips to ask how other businesspeople can make travel as painless as possible.

How long have you been traveling like this?

For about 10-12 years. Most of my domestic trips are overnight. I’ll fly to Los Angeles on a Tuesday morning, do a day of meetings or speeches and be home by midnight on Wednesday. For international trips, I might leave for Tokyo on a Tuesday and come back on Thursday. The trips shake out to about one per week, if not two.

How can travelers make life on the road easier to handle?

First: Smile. If travel wasn’t stressful, everyone would do it, but you can avoid most of the stress by taking a deep breath and smiling. My No. 1 rule is to not get upset. At the end of the day think about how awesome it is that you are going five miles into the sky and flying through the air to get somewhere. That is amazing!

Second: Buy a treat for your flight attendant. I will not get on a plane without buying a bag of M&Ms or jellybeans. I give them to the lead flight attendant and they always really appreciate it. They put up with so much crap; brightening their day will help put them in a good mood and might help you have a better flight.

Third: Get the first flight out in the morning. Flights before 6 a.m. are more likely to be on time because the plane will have been parked at the airport overnight.

Fourth: Take mass transit when you get to your destination. When I fly home to New York, I can get into town in 30 minutes on the subway when it would take two hours by car. The same goes with most other big cities.

Oh, and consider sharing cabs. Whenever I go to Las Vegas, for example, I will jump to the front of the cab line and ask if anyone is going to my hotel. If they are, I will offer to take a cab with them and pay for it. The way I see it, I would have paid for the cab anyway, but that trick saves me a 90-minute wait in line.

What are your favorite business travel apps?

TripIt is a game changer because it allows me to share my trip plans to anyone. Hotel Tonight is great when I’m on the road and need to find a place to stay quickly. I like Google Translate because it allows me to point my phone at a sign and will translate the sign in real time, augmented reality-style. I also like Plane Finder, an app that allows you to take a photo of a plane flying overhead and it will tell you what the flight is and where it is going.

What are your thoughts on checking bags?

I never check bags. I also love products from a company called SCOTTeVEST that sells travel clothes with hidden pockets. I don’t travel without wearing a SCOTTeVEST. I love the company so much that I now sit on their board.

What is a common misconception about business travel?

That you can’t stay healthy while on the road. It is possible to stick to your health routine wherever you are. I’ve done workouts waiting for flights—pushups, sit-ups, and planks. You grab a corner of the terminal and get it done. People might look at you like you are crazy, but who cares? Some airports have so much open space that you can go for a run inside. Denver is one of those, Bangkok is another.

In terms of food, there is not a restaurant in the world that won’t make you a piece of skinless, boneless chicken and a salad. I’ve also never been to an airport that doesn’t sell apples or beef jerky. I’m signed up for a half Ironman later this year and am on track with my training despite my travel schedule.

Katie Morell

About the Author


San Francisco-based, writes about business, travel, social justice and human interest topics. Contributes to Fast Company, Hemispheres, The Guardian, Consumers Digest, OPEN Forum, BBC Travel & others.

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