Business travel can be planned or last minute due to emergency requests from customers. Nothing beats being prepared for it and getting good feedback from customers or colleagues during your travel. These tips will guide you in preparing a fruitful business travel.
Business Travel Tips
My business is travel so there are times when I may travel at least once each month. Others may only travel for business once or twice a year. Over the years I have found that business travel becomes much easier if you are always prepared.
I have certain clothes and shoes that are always ready to be packed and only used when I travel. My travel kit of toiletries is always ready and replenished when I get home. There are travel everyday items like comb, brush, toothbrush/paste, etc. always ready to just put in my bag. I have extra cords and chargers for my electronics that stay in my briefcase so they are never forgotten. I can pack for a business trip in 30 minutes or less with very little notice.
Of course, those that don’t travel for business often do not have things at the ready and need some more planning. Always look at where you are going (climate, appropriate dress requirements, type of accommodations, etc) when preparing. Use clothing that can be mixed and matched and that won’t wrinkle easily. When you arrive at your venue, hang your clothing in the closet to allow any wrinkles to fall out.
Take one sweater or jacket that matches with everything and wear it while you travel (they take up too much room in a suitcase). One basic pair of shoes that can go with all casual wear and one basic pair that can go with all dress wear. The more often you travel for business – the better you get at this.
I try to never have more than a carry-on suitcase (which takes lots of practice to fit everything in!), my briefcase and my purse. Try to never take more than you can carry.
The Business Part of Business Travel
WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE OF THIS BUSINESS TRIP?
Business travel has an objective that your boss will expect you to fulfill. You should always have a short meeting or discussion with your boss to clarify the objective. After doing so, inform your customers or colleagues about the business travel and its objective.
Clear communication is essential to conduct a rewarding business trip. It is crucial that you determine the objective before leaving. This helps you to plan your tasks in achieving the objective. The worst of business travel is a late notification. Although you might feel rushed, do remember to take this step and plan in achieving the objective.
Even if you are your own boss – don’t skip this step! Have everything you will need to meet your objectives.
IF POSSIBLE, PREPARE YOUR TRANSPORTATION AND ACCOMMODATIONS EARLY
Transportation and accommodations are some of the biggest headaches in business travel. If your business travel falls during the peak travel seasons, there will be a big problem in booking for transportation and accommodations. Additionally, check if there are any events like exhibitions in the period of your business travel.
I especially prefer to book my own transportation. Although some major venues have their own travel offices that book plane trips for business visitors, I have found over the years that I prefer to book my own, or to at least give them one or two flights I would prefer. I have had venues book me leaving at 5 a.m. from an airport 1.5 hours away when there is an airport 15 minutes from my home.
Peak seasons and big events results in full bookings and increase in pricing. So, do book your tickets and accommodations early to avoid any disappointment. If you are driving, check for closure of roads. Due to this reason, last-minute business travel is often discouraged. Worrying about your transportation and accommodations should rank least in your business travel.
Many business hosts/venues will try to save money by arranging shared accommodations. This is fine if you are traveling with a colleague you know. However, there is nothing more distasteful than being given a shared room with a stranger. They could be the nicest person in the world – but they are still a stranger. If possible when a host is offering shared accommodations, inquire whether it would be possible for you to have your own room by paying the little extra fee.
I’m sure there are things I might do that annoy a roommate as well, but I was once given a shared accommodation with a stranger who outwardly seemed very nice. The issue I had was she walked around the room naked. I am by no means a prude, however, having to regularly see a strangers not very attractive nakedness was not my idea of comfort. I found myself spending time working in the lobby rather than in my room.
INFORM THOSE INVOLVED ON YOUR ITINERARY
Once your objective, transportation and accommodations are prepared, you will already heave a sigh of relief. Next, it is time to plan your task list and itinerary. Having a task list allows you to focus on achieving the objective of the business travel. It also helps you to remember what should be done during the trip.
When you plan the itinerary, it is always better to confirm transportation and accommodation first. This helps you to get a better grasp of your schedule. If not, you would have to estimate the number of days by going through your task list. Once these are done, always update your boss and everyone involved. This creates an effective communication channel among you and everyone.
CHECK YOUR LAPTOP, COMPUTER FILES AND BACKUP
A common disaster in business travel is the malfunction of your laptop or computer files. Thus, you should test your presentations slides or electronic devices before you leave. You can ask your IT support to set up your laptop or install any software that you might need.
Backup is A vital step. You must backup important files separately. After all, you can always revert to these backups in case of an issue with your original files. The last thing you want is a nightmare during your customer presentation.
As silly as it sounds in this day and age, I also carry a portable wi-fi device. There is nothing worse than having no wi-fi available when you need it!
KEEP ALL RECEIPTS AND A DIARY
Sorry, your travel reimbursement cannot be approved because you have no receipts. How many times have you heard this from your boss or accounting department? In business travel, you must keep all your receipts to prove your claims and prevent this kind.
Keep a diary to describe your business travel. It is always difficult to rely on your memory to remember what happened in the business travel. A diary helps you recall the events and make it easier for you to write your travel report. It also justifies the time spent in completing the objective of the trip. The diary is also useful if you are going for a follow-up travel as it helps you to recalls the thing you have done.
If you are your own boss/company – receipts are vital! I have a journal that travels with me in my briefcase that has a built in envelope in the back. Each night of my business trip I write a short report of the day and put all receipts from the day into the back envelope. Of course, there are many computer options for keeping these notes. Use whatever works best for you.
Business travel unlike leisure travel requires an objective and justification. There must be clear communication of goals and objective between you, your boss and the stakeholders. You should avoid last-minute business travel, if possible, so you can book your transportation and accommodation early. Once you have confirmed the bookings, you can plan your itinerary and update those involved in the business travel.
Check your laptop and computer files carefully and backup additional copies to avoid hiccups. Lastly, keep all your receipts to prevent any disputes over travel claims. You should also write a diary to record your business events for your travel reports and future follow-up.
PRO TRAVEL TIPS – DON’Ts
A business trip is not the time to try new food that could cause stomach ailments or an allergic reaction.
A business trip is also NEVER the time to over consume alcohol. For many years, I had a firm rule of NO ALCOHOL at all while on a business trip after witnessing many colleagues behave in not so flattering ways. The last thing you want colleagues to witness is you behaving like a college CoEd at a frat party! I have eased up on that rule but only when I travel with people I have traveled with for years and I still have a limit for myself of two cocktails. Know your limits.
No trip – business or leisure – is the time to wear new shoes or new clothing – both of which can become extremely uncomfortable! Especially on a business trip, you want to be at your best. You can’t be at your best while nursing foot blisters!
A business trip is also not the time to bring along and try out new electronics. Bring and use what you know to be reliable and what you are comfortable with.