From figuring out what to pack to scheduling an itinerary,, preparing for a business trip can be more stressful and overwhelming than actually going on the trip itself.
Alleviating the pain of business travel begins with your preparation. Experienced business travelers begin preparing for trips days before they leave to ensure they are able to put their best work forward while conducting business on the road.
11 business travel tips from frequent business travelers
We surveyed leaders in the business travel industry to get their takes on how to best prepare for a business trip. They offered some insightful commentary that should quell your worries regarding any business travel on your horizon.
1. Never run out of juice
“Bring a portable battery (power bank) to recharge your cell phone, especially if you're going to be on a plane for a long time. Make sure it's in your carry-on luggage so you can use it on the plane. You don't want to risk a dead phone when you need it most!”
“I attended a marketing conference a couple of years ago and neglected to pack a portable charger. I didn't realize how quickly I would drain through my phone's battery while I used the event app and live-tweeted from conference sessions. While several of the expo booths had chargers available, none of them worked with my phone, so I ended up needing to walk back to my hotel for my charger and wait there for it to regain battery life, missing a couple of valuable sessions in the process.”
“The first and only key is to make sure everything fits in a carry on, like a great soft tote bag to carry extras, including your computer or tablet. Everything should be able to be folded and if your carry on has a place for suits, even better. Usually, three changes max is enough with two or three shirts. One pair of shoes to go to all meetings and another for travel. Cosmetics, toiletries, etc. can be in your suitcase or tote bag depending on how much room there is. I have gone all over the world like this and it works.”
- Dr. Gayle Carson CSP CMC FIMC, Author of Big Ideas for your Business, Creator of Living Regret Free
3. Avoid shipping essential materials
“Never ship your business cards with any other collateral you might be shipping as you never know where the shipment will end up or how long customs will retain the package, etc. I once showed up to a trade show in Berlin and I had a small stack of cards with me and my assistant had shipped over a new box of cards, along with brochures, a little later (after the new order of biz cards had arrived.) Well, we never saw that box and I had to be super stingy with my cards, to the point it was quite embarrassing!”
“If you find yourself traveling by air for business on a regular basis, a travel rewards credit card could prove advantageous by making your journeys far more comfortable as well as netting you substantial savings.
When choosing a travel credit card for business, contemplate what kind of traveler you are. If you’re someone who regularly finds themselves sitting in airports, a high-tier, high annual fee credit card could bring you substantial value in the way of lounge benefits, expedited screening, steep rewards, and more. Access to such amenities will make business travel less stressful and far more comfortable. If you are someone who travels by air infrequently, a travel card with a high-annual fee will likely not be worth the cost.”
“Don’t check a bag. Aside from the fact that bags can be lost, the time spent checking bags and waiting at baggage claim is a huge waste. It’s important to be efficient on business trips, and you can lose so much time if you check bags. Also, if you don’t have to wait for a bag, you can get way ahead of everyone who does, thereby avoiding long customs lines (if traveling internationally).”
“Book a hotel close to the client or business location to avoid early morning commutes, traffic delays, etc. Before booking, try asking your client if they have a preferred hotel in the city and if there's a discount that you’d be able to use.”
“If it is a longer trip, make sure you have an international driving license. You never know when you may need to hire or borrow a car. Check your documents the night before you fly, such as your passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, and tickets. You can usually check these via travel management software if you booked through work.
I always print them, as not every international airport allows you to scan from your phone. If necessary, make sure you have the hotel address written in the local language of your destination.”
“Put together a schedule that includes your flight, your meetings, and the time you're expected to arrive at the hotel. Budget extra time to visit something fun at your destination. You'll regret missing the opportunity later on.
Share your itinerary with a friend or family member that you plan to stay in touch with. You can contact them if you lose information, and they will know where you're meant to be if your phone goes silent.”
TIP: Traveling to a unique destination and looking to add some personal time onto your trip? Check out our guide to bleisure travel!
9. Make sure you eat enough
“Even on the road, you have to keep your belly filled. Having been stuck waiting unexpectedly at airports and on airplanes, and having arrived at hotel rooms at haunting hours or found the only time to eat is in a taxi between meetings, I always pack a filling emergency snack.
That typically means a few energy bars. They are the most compact food that doesn’t make a mess and can be stuffed into a pocket. They are not the nutritional nirvana, but they are filling. And who can eat a salad in a taxi anyway?”
“If you’re one of those people who doesn’t get car sick, then lucky you! That means you have found some time while traveling to prepare for meetings and get things in order. Otherwise, make use of your hotel facilities in order to get a nice space to think. Of course, you can always use your hotel room, but many hotels have a business center or lobby as well that could be good for being productive. Or, feel free to explore the new city and find a cute coffee shop or park to do your work.”
“Always find out in advance where you may be visiting while you’re on your trip. I traveled to Hong Kong once with a very casual start-up company who had no dress code. The last thing I expected was to end up in a very dressy hotel restaurant where they had to make special dispensation for me to wear my shorts and flip-flops!”
With these tips in tow, you’ll be able to travel for work with the peace of mind that you’re equipped to handle any unforeseen issues. The ultimate goal of any business trip is to perform at your peak when conducting your business obligations, and a failure to prepare to perform your best on a trip is preparing to fail. If you're still overwhelmed, maybe it's time to look into hiring a travel management company?
Business trips require a lot of moving parts. Read up on the 8 most common business trip mistakes to better prepare you for your upcoming trip!