Rewards and Loyalty Programs!
Frequent Flyer Program
A few reasons why it is important to stick to one airline:
- You get points (and status!) a lot quicker!
- You are able to cash in on bonus points when airlines offer special promotions - occasionally United will have promotions where if you fly roundtrip X times in Y months, you'll get bonus points. If you're already traveling anyway, this is pretty much like getting free money to use toward personal travel in the future! Make sure to opt in when you see these emails, even if you're not sure you'll hit the requirement - you never know!
- The sooner you get to a higher status (in this case for United, gold status), the more likely you'll get upgraded.
- If you have a higher status on one airline, usually other airlines may match that status for a year - use this carefully - a lot of airlines will only match status for one year, then in that year you need to meet requirements to stay at that level.
Before you start traveling, check with your company to see if there are any partnerships with specific airlines or if there are any "challenge" promotions that can help you achieve a higher status quickly. Most large corporations have travel partnerships with airlines and hotels - so look into this and take advantage of it!
A few reasons why you should have a main hotel rewards program:
- Similar to the airlines, you'll get points and move up in status faster if you stick with one. If you look at the breakdown of different hotel statuses, some of the higher levels give you up to 75% bonus points - this definitely adds up when you're staying in a hotel every week!
- Hotels also offer opportunities for bonus points - I've gotten more of these offers it seems as my status has increased - make sure to opt in for these. A lot of the opportunities have been along the lines of receiving double bonus points for every night after the first night or an extra X points per stay longer than 1 night. Again, free money to use when you travel for leisure!
In order to move up quickly at Marriott, I did check my company's travel offers and they had a challenge program, allowing me to essentially jump a level if I stayed X number of nights in a certain period of time. Check with your travel center to see if there are any offers!
A few reasons why you should join Uber rewards and take uber:
- You get $5 for every 500 points. If you take Uber on the weekends after a night out, you could have this paid for if you choose to take Uber to/from the airport every week!
- I personally like Uber better than a taxi because you can follow the route on your phone and see how long it's going to take, where you are along the route, etc.
- Once you get to higher levels of status with Uber, it definitely seems like the quality of drivers increases, and I like that!
Credit Card Rewards
P.S. - Even if my company wouldn't cover this, I probably would've caved and just bought it myself after a few weeks. It is a huge time saver and stress relief!
Important information about TSA-precheck:
- With TSA-precheck, you no longer have to take anything out of your bags and you don't have to take off your shoes - this means you're less likely to forget any of your items at the security checkpoint!
- If you are interested in enrolling in TSA-precheck - choose the airport that's less busy. I made my appointment at Tampa one of the mornings after flying in and there was no wait. I doubt the same would've happened at Newark!
- In larger airports, there may still be a long line, but this is generally much quicker than the regular security lines or even the premier access security lines for United passengers as people don't need to take belongings out of their bags or take their shoes off.
- You can still get chosen to go through the special x-ray machine or have your electronics checked. This has happened to me more after getting pre-check, but it's typically quick!
TSA Security Advice
Liquids - I've never gotten stopped for any liquids and I've never pulled them out of my bags either. Just make sure every container you have is a small container if it's filled with anything.
Powders - I've ALWAYS gotten stopped when I brought containers of pre-workout and BCAAs. One time, after they swabbed it at Newark, they told me I couldn't bring either container on board, so they would either throw them in the trash or I would have to go check my bag. It was close to boarding, but I still decided to check my bag and I still made my flight. My advice here is just bringing what you need for the week - four scoops max of each. Unless you are checking a bag, and then bring whatever you want!
Recovery Equipment - I've gotten stopped a few times with some of my recovery equipment - EMS, BFF pro - I've just explained what it's for and they're okay with it. I've never been made to check a bag when bringing this type of stuff.
Ninja Grips, Gymnastics Rings - Similar to the recovery equipment, I've gotten stopped for bringing some of my gym gear. As long as it's not sharp, they typically have no problem with it after they take it out and look at it. If you do bring this type of stuff, I recommend distributing it throughout your carry-on since sometimes the reason it causes an issue is everything is balled together and it's hard for them to see what it is on the x-ray machine.
Book in Advance
- How long will it take to get from the hotel to the office when there's traffic?
- It started becoming too much of a hassle to commute from downtown to the office everyday, so about halfway through, I started staying a walking distance from the office - this worked out perfectly as I was able to get in a nice 15 minute walk each morning and after work!
- Are there any restaurants nearby? Will UberEats deliver?
- Hotel room service actually does get old after a while, especially if you're staying in the same hotel every week! Consider other food options near your hotel!
- Is there a place to run or workout nearby?
- If you are into running or working out, check to see if there is a running trail easily accessible from the hotel and whether it is safe to run early in the morning or at night. Usually if you are staying in a city and there's a path along the water, it's pretty safe most of the time.
- Some companies may help subsidize the cost of a gym membership while you're traveling for work. Crunch is a great option if you need a little more than just a hotel gym - it's around $26 per month and it gives you access to most Crunch gyms around the country!
Work travel... think of it as a rollercoaster!
One week you may get a flight upgrade to first class, but then the next five weeks your flight home will be delayed (BEWARE of the ~5:20pm Thursday United flight from TPA to EWR - in that 40 weeks I can count on both my hands the number of times it was actually on time!!!). Another week you may get a great hotel upgrade, but you're stuck sitting at the back of the plane because you forgot to check-in on time to get an upgraded seat.
Some weeks will be great - everything will go perfectly, you'll have great flights, great hotel rooms, the work that week will be engaging and exciting. But then there will be other weeks where they feel like the loneliest weeks of your life where you're spending long days at work and lonely nights in hotel rooms, sometimes doing even more work.
During those 40 weeks, my life flew by - I didn't really have a set routine and I ended up missing out on a lot of Thursday happy hours with friends back home. My apartment was in a constant state of disarray and I missed my cats more and more each week I left them. For me, it was exciting at first and then became a constant burden.
Just remember - there are always going to be highs and lows when it comes to work travel and just take each experience as it comes!
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