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When you pack for a vacation, do you check out the weather before you start packing? Of course you do! Likewise, one of the first things we consider before we make our business travel plans is the upcoming weather at our destinations. Inclement weather – hot or cold, wet or dry – can have huge impacts on your travel plans.

Packing for the plural possibilities

Yes, packing for the weather at your destination may seem like obvious advice. But what if you are visiting more than one destination in very different climates? Suddenly the packing becomes more complicated.

The best advice we can give for clothing is to pack layers and wear layers. The wearing of layers is especially important if you are traveling by plane and have on and off points in different climates. Wearing layers during travel will also reduce the amount of space used in your suitcase.

The biggest packing problem we see for different climates isn’t actually clothing however. It’s shoes; especially for women. Should you bring high heels with closed toes or open toes? What are your professional options for rainy or snowy weather?

Our solution is to plan for the worst. Purchase a sensible – even if not fashionable – pair of business savvy shoes that can withstand harsh weather conditions and skip the open toes if your travel lands you in colder climates.

Request the right rental

We love rental car upgrades. Two years ago, we were thrilled to receive a Ford Mustang convertible to drive during a multi-city trip across Florida in January. However, we recently were given a Ford Mustang upgrade in Connecticut where the weather was below freezing and the threat of snow was in the air.

This car wasn’t the best vehicle to deal with inclement weather. Still, because we were traveling so late and didn’t want to deal with requesting an alternative, we decided to keep it. We got lucky – only a few inches of snow fell overnight once during our week of travel – but we probably should have requested a more appropriate vehicle for the climate.

If timing matters, leave early despite the cost

We’ve all heard the weather people say that if you need to go somewhere in inclement weather, give yourself plenty of time. That goes for business travel too.

If you live in an area or are traveling through an area (even a flight connection) during a season that has the possibility of inclement weather, consider leaving early. This might mean taking an earlier train or traveling by air a day earlier than you wanted. It might cost you more to do this, but it’s infinitely better than missing an important meeting on the other side of the country.

It’s not just the winter weather

While winter weather can be fairly predictable, it’s not the only season with problem weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes and even everyday thunderstorms can affect business travel. And those are typically less predictable than winter snow storms.

Unfortunately, you can’t plan for the unpredictable. But you can make time allowances. What are you willing to do when bad weather strikes? Here are two scenarios:

A) A family gets on a plane in Las Vegas headed to Indianapolis with a connection in Chicago O’Hare between Christmas and New Year’s Day. They make it to O’Hare but a snowstorm grounds all flights from there. Their party can’t all get on the same alternative flight. They decide to sleep at O’Hare and take a flight to Indy the next morning.

B) Two businessmen traveling back to the United States from a sales trip overseas make it to New York City’s La Guardia. It’s summer and a line of freak thunderstorms has flooded their destination city in the Midwest. They opt to rent a car and drive the rest of the way home after their long flight.

The weather problems aren’t all bad
If you travel often for business, one thing you can plan for is that inclement weather will sometimes alter or delay your plans. Most of the time, you’ll find these delays to be a burden. However, sometimes you can turn them into a positive. We often spend downtime at airports in a Delta Sky Club where we can find workspace. If a layover is extended, we reason that it just gives us more time to work on a project.

Maybe our favorite bad weather travel story occurred on a return flight from New York City on a Saturday morning. We had just completed a long week of work in four different states on the east coast and were happy to be headed home on a direct flight that morning. We boarded our plane on time and were happily surprised to find ourselves upgraded to first class. We pushed back from the gate on time and were waiting in line to take off when we were told we would be sitting there awhile. A freak storm was occurring nearby and all flights were suspended. Since it was a Saturday morning and we were going to be sitting there for 3+ hours, we shrugged our shoulders and ordered free bloody mary’s. We also opened up our notebooks and reviewed our trip while we sat in the airplane parking lot.

Over time, we have discovered that inclement weather will always threaten business travel so we plan for the worst and take advantage of delays when they occur.