Business travel can be fun and exciting, but it can also be demanding and stressful. Whether it’s your first business trip or you’re a business travel pro, there’s rarely a shortage of things to think about.
‘What will the trip entail?’ ‘What if I forget something?’ ‘Can I use this to impress my boss?’ ‘How can I keep my clothes from creasing?’ These are all more than valid questions. But relax – we’ve got your covered.
In this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about getting the most out of your next (or first) business trip.
- How to prepare before the trip
- What to when you arrive
- How to get the most out of your time away
- What to do once the trip is over
- Bonus tips for continuous travelling!
1. Before you go: planning your trip
These are some vital tips for preparing for your trip before you’ve even left, to make life much easier once you’re there.
1. Find out everything you can about the city and accommodation.
If you’re staying at a hotel or serviced apartment. you’ll likely have access to plenty of facilities, so it pays to find out what will be available such as wi-fi, dry cleaning. a gym etc. This will really help when you come to creating your packing list.
2. Once you know what’s there, you can make your packing list.
Make your packing list about a week before you travel. when you are relaxed. You can be comprehensive and detailed and won’t need to think as much later on. Business trips tend to favour packing light. so try to pack only what you need.
3. If you have the budget and its possible, send your luggage ahead of
This isn’t essential. but it is recommended by many entrepreneurs and does help to take the stress out of checking luggage at the airport or lugging it along on a train.
4. Prepare and back up all of your necessary files.
You don’t want to get halfway to your destination and realise you’ve left your all-important PowerPoint at the office.
As well as using flash drives or USB sticks, backing up your work via cloud storage is a good way to go as you’ll be able to access it from anywhere. You may need another way to back up files that are confidential, however – check with your boss on this.
5. Practice your presentation (if you have to give one) and get to know
your subject matter inside out.
This probably goes without saying, but don’t wait until you get to the other side! Even if you’re not presenting, it helps to be familiar with the material in case you need to step in, assist or answer client questions.
6. Give a loved one a copy of your itinerary.
That way they’ll always be able to reach you if they need to and it pays to have peace of mind.
2. On the Journey
The journey to your destination is an opportunity to mentally prepare for the trip. Here are some things to think about along the way.
7. Arrive at the airport or train station in plenty of time.
The only thing worse than missing a meeting due to a delayed flight is missing it because you didn’t get on the flight.
8. Avoid checking baggage if you can – it is costly and often unnecessary.
Instead, take a small suitcase on board with a small shoulder bag. If you absolutely must check luggage, make sure your outfit, laptop, notes and whatever you need for your meetings isn’t in that bag. Your bag could get lost and you don’t want to be caught without your essentials.
9. Make sure your devices are charged up before the journey.
You want to be in continuous contact with your client in case there are delays on your journey, and you also don’t want to head to straight to a meeting with a flat battery.
If you don’t have a portable charger and can’t charge your devices on a train, make sure they’re fully charged before you go.
10. Eat well before, during and after your journey.
You want to arrive feeling and looking rested, so drink plenty of water and eat well balanced meals, with lots of fruits and veggies. Avoid anything too greasy that will make you feel sluggish, and try to avoid alcohol as you don’t want to be feeling sleepy or unfocused.
11. If you can help it. don’t talk about work on the journey.
Not only is it annoying for other passengers to have to witness business talk, the journey should be a time for you to collect your thoughts and prepare mentally for the trip. Instead, spend the journey thinking on trip goals, catching up on emails, getting some shut-eye or reading.
3. When you Arrive
12. Arrange transport ahead of time to take you to your
It’ll save time and take a weight off your mind knowing all you need to do is jump in a taxi when you arrive.
13. Hang up your clothes as soon as you get to your serviced apartment
or hotel room.
(Lord knows how much suitcases crease them.) If you have time and one is available. use the iron provided to straighten them out a little. If you brought your own travel iron, bonus points for you!
14. Do something to relax. If you have a gap between your arrival and
meeting or the rest of the day is free, it’s good to do something relaxing so you can wind down after your journey. Many long time business travellers report visiting the hotel spa or booking a manicure when they arrive at their destination, to help them settle in.
4. Whilst You Are There
15. Eat sensibly and cheaply.
Your employer isn’t going to be happy if you blow a bundle of their fund at mealtimes. Try to be as efficient as you can with everything, including where you eat. Your sound judgement and reason will be noticed and no doubt appreciated.
16. Keep a record of everything you spend.
If your company doesn’t have a per diem (daily spend limit) or credit card, you’ll need to keep receipts
from everything you buy. In some places this might mean asking especially in taxis, where receipts are often forgotten about.
There are a few apps that can help with tracking spend on a business trip. Concur allows you to take photos of all your receipts in case you lose them. BizXpense Tracker is great for small-business owners and consultants, while Expensify enables you to create an expense report and also track mileage expenses.
17. If you regularly exercise. try to keep it up for the days you are away.
This will ensure you stay feeling your best. whether you visit the local gym. go for a jog or do a super convenient hotel room workout.
18. Try to schedule in some downtime.
This may not be possible if the duration of your stay is all business. but if are lucky enough to have a gap, try to make the most of your visit. Explore the city. meet up with a friend or simply sit in a coffee shop.
19. Don’t be afraid to break away from your team.
Many people think they should hang out and socialise after the day is over, but don’t feel pressures into doing the same. Feel free to excuse yourself after the working day is done so you can catch up on emails. Skype loved ones or simply relax.
5. When You Get Back
20. As soon as you can. do a quick post mortem of the trip whilst it’s fresh in your head.
Go over the successes; what went right and what didn’t go so well; the next steps to take and who is responsible for each. Report back to anyone you need to and make sure everyone in your team is on the same page.
21. Unpack your suitcase and do your laundry.
Return anything you will be using on your next trip back to your suitcase. and put your suitcase away in a safe place.
22. Respond to all emails and urgent postponed tasks.
A simple email to let people know you’ve been away will go a long way.
This is extremely important after any trip, but especially a business-related one. Take time out after getting back to relax. whether this is through post-travel yoga, a nice dinner or watching your favourite
6. Additional Bonus Tips
24. Travelling can often wreak havoc with our natural rhythms, so try your best to maintain a routine that’s as close to your home routine as possible.
25. If you’re travelling more than once a year, it pays to keep a small bag of essentials packed at all times. Keep them stored and topped up so you’ll be ready for when your next trip rolls around.