10 Ways to Get More Out of Business Trips

Whenever I travel for work, I find the time on planes to be relaxing, and I get lots of work done. For me, recreational Internet use is a major distraction, and with less distraction comes more productivity. This travel work ethic is something that isn't just me either. The Atlantic notes the same phenomenon that occurs at coffee shops, where most people are more effective outside of their offices, even though it's noisy. But there also seems to be more personal responsibility. Because people can see your screen, you're more likely to actually do work and not just scroll through Facebook, as Life Hacker notes. These examples can be equated directly to travel.

And while Bloomberg Business doesn't recommend working on an airplane, there is a way to take advantage of your time without causing a headache or stress. Here are 10 ways to maximize your travel time when you fly.

Before You Take Off

Here are little things you can do before you're in the air that'll make flying an enjoyable — and efficient — experience.

1. Buy Noise-Canceling Headphones

Planes can be loud. That's where headphones come in handy. I even use them when I forget my iPod (yes, I'm probably one of the few who still uses an iPod). It helps me rest and keeps the distractions out. (See also: Best Wireless Headphones)

2. Download Podcasts

Don't forget to download any podcasts or songs ahead of time. Planes can be the perfect time to catch up on This American Life, a business podcast, or even a comedy podcast. My friend listens to a lot of inspirational podcasts that have been great for her as she has been trying to start a new business. Find something that works for you and make sure you have it on your phone or other electronic device.

3. Set Your Google Drive to Work Offline

If you do a lot of work in Google Drive, make sure to download your drive on your computer. It lets you make changes online and then loads them when you connect to the Internet again. It's great!

4. Get Your To-Do List Together

To maximize your time on the plane, make sure you have your to-do list together so you can be effective. I have a bad habit of writing down my list on every scrap of paper I can find. I now use Flow on my iPhone instead, which has been more effective lately since I can't remember when I've finished something, and deadlines help make me more productive. Unfortunately, they don't currently have an offline version, so you might have to print your list or save it elsewhere.

On the Plane

Once you're onboard, here's what you can do maximize time in your seat.

5. Meditate

Practicing mindfulness is quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to relax and become centered. On a plane, it can be used to quell those moments of fearfulness, but it's also a great way to get your mind ready for the big trip. If you're new to mindfulness, practice it a bit before leaving so you understand how to really take advantage of your time. Also download some soothing music to listen to.

6. Write

As a writer, I get some of my best work done while on a plane. Even if you don't enjoy writing, there are some great observations to be made while traveling. Carry around a little notebook and note every time the toddler behind you kicks your chair or demands crackers. It can actually help you put your mind at ease and make light of a stressful situation. If you love to write, plane trips can relieve writer's block.

7. Read

Because I never make time to just sit and read in my everyday routine, I rarely do it at all. However, reading is one of my favorite things to do. You don't have the pressure of the Internet calling your name or someone texting you while you're lost in the pages of a good book, so take advantage of being disconnected!

8. Brainstorm

Because I work at a nonprofit that provides affordable housing solutions, my mind is constantly buzzing with ideas for projects we can undertake. I also run a nonprofit that conducts classes, which means my brain never gets a break from ideas. I've spent a large amount of time on planes brainstorming and creating a vision for the coming months and I highly recommend it.

9. Budget

I recently had a hospital visit that proved to be very costly and I've had to really sit down and budget how I'm going to spend my money. On a plane ride not long ago, I figured out how to take care of my medical bills, and I've been using the method ever since. While online tools like Mint are great, I prefer using Excel to track my expenses. It really depends on what your goals are and how you want to get there.

10. Sleep

If you're mentally exhausted, sleeping on the plane might be the best option. There are days when I get no alone time, and being an introvert, I really value that time. So sometimes I plan ahead to sleep on the plane. Just make sure you don't sleep during takeoff and landing.

What do you do to be productive while traveling?

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Matt Gallant

Amazing list you got here. I've been doing a lot of business trips and these items that you have are a great addition to mine. Thanks!