Red-Eye vs. Crack-of-Dawn Business Travel - What to Do?

Updated: Jun 22, 2018

BEEP BEEP BEEP!!! My alarm was going off at 3:30 AM-a business travel nightmare. But wait, I am home...why was my alarm going off at 3:30 AM? Had my wife (who goes to bed prior to me and subsequently has rendered herself in charge of the alarm clock) not set it correctly? Had the clock somehow malfunctioned? Is God mad at me for some of my transgressions I may (or may not) have made in my younger days?

Unfortunately, no. I made this choice to get up at this unholy hour. Why you ask? Because I had a business meeting in the Baltimore area today and the alternative was to fly out the night before and miss seeing my wife and kids last evening. True, while I have a headache now, last night we played a marathon game of hide and seek (my daughter won, because she always wins) and I got to experience another one of my favorite parts of the day, sitting on the couch and watching TV with my wife. Sure, she watches HGTV and some show about women who are married to the same guy but it never matters to me as long as she is there and the house is quiet.

When to fly for business travel is a decision many husbands, wives, parents and the like struggle with all of the time. Do I get up at the crack of dawn and catch the early flight, or do I take the last flight out and be there and ready for my meeting tomorrow morning?

The answer isn’t the same for everyone. Really it comes down to what you view as important in your life and how you deal with those important things. Is being prepared and bright eyed important to you? Do you not like to be rushed in the morning? Do you want to be able to fly home the next evening and not be totally drained? Then you should probably take the late flight the night prior to your meeting. However if time with your family is paramount, or perhaps you are more of a morning person, or maybe you even just want to enjoy that cup of Starbucks on the company dime in the morning --- then the early bird flight is the one for you.

That isn’t to say that you are a bad parent because you take the late flight out. Maybe you take that flight because your kids are in bed and doing so allows you to be home in time to take your daughter to her Girl Scout meeting. And it’s not to say you don’t care enough about your customers to be bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning. Perhaps you are a morning person and getting up at 3 isn’t an issue.

Regardless of your business travel preferences and the reasoning behind, it helps to have some tips to save time, energy and money along the way.

For the early flight:

  • Make sure you are 100% packed and prepared the night before

  • Check the inbound version of your flight the night before to ensure there have been no delays that will cause you headache tomorrow morning

  • Iron your clothes and place them out the night prior. Trust me, no one likes to be picking out their clothes at 3:30 in the morning.

  • Know your home airport and the location of the many Starbucks stores around the terminals. Might as well let your company buy you a cup of coffee for getting up this early!

For the late flight the night before:

  • Just like the Starbucks tip, know where and when you are going to eat before arriving at the airport. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to bed famished at my hotel because I didn’t plan to eat during my travel day.

  • Do the same for your return flight home

  • Wear comfortable clothes on the plane. Business travel doesn't have to mean business professional attire 24-7. Hey, you’re not seeing your customer tonight, may as well be comfy right?

  • Keep an eye on the flight time. Don’t get to the airport only to be cancelled and have to run and go back home.

My next meeting is in Minneapolis at 9:00 AM. I’ll be flying the night before. I am NOT a morning person…


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