A huge industry conference seems fun and exciting until the overwhelming stress kicks in. Whether it is your first time traveling for work or you’ve done it countless times, there always seems to be a bump in the road. Here are some pointers to review before your next business trip to hopefully make your traveling experience a little smoother.
Before: Packing and Travel Prep
- Ask questions about your company’s travel and expense policy – Fully understand your company’s policy before traveling. Are you in charge of making accommodations? What is the reimbursement procedure? If your company books and schedules everything for you, there isn’t much you can control. However, if you are in charge:
- Apply for credit a card that offers airline benefits. These points will rack up in your favor if you know your company will have you traveling often.
- Pick a hotel with useful shops in walking distance in case you forget something important.
- Fly in a day early. Weather delays and flight cancellations happen way too often and you don’t want to risk being late to your professional events.
- Limit to carry-on only if possible – No need to over pack. If it’s a long trip, additional luggage is fine. However, be sure to always pack a back-up professional outfit in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost.
- Call your cell phone and credit card company – If traveling abroad, make sure to call your cell phone provider to change your phone plan to an international plan to avoid any outrageous fees. Also make a call to your credit card company so they don’t freeze your account suspecting fraud.
- Save all addresses in phone beforehand – Try to nail down all of the places you need to go before the trip and save the addresses in your phone.
- Don’t book last minute – If it’s in your control, do not book your trip last minute. If you were only notified about a conference two days ago, it’s probably in your best interest to sit this one out. Many people will be traveling to the same event and all of the best flights/hotels will be booked. Don’t take the cheap motel miles and miles away from the conference. It probably isn’t worth it.
- Don’t overbook your schedule – If you are traveling to a busy city, you have to remember the Uber ride from meeting to meeting could take some serious time. Schedule more than enough time between meetings.
During the Travel Chaos
- Leave passport in hotel safe – If you happen to lose your passport in another country, you’ll regret it when you’re unable to travel back home as planned. Leave it locked up to prevent this delay.
- Wear comfy shoes – Professional, but comfy.
- Save all receipts – After reviewing your company’s travel and expense policy, make note of what they’ll pay for, such as meals. Keeping all of your receipts will ensure you will accurately get your money back.
- Drink alcohol minimally – It’s common to be invited out for dinner and drinks after a long day of meetings. Know your limit! You are representing your company on a business trip. Do not treat this like a night out with your friends.
- Make sleep a priority – This may seem impossible, but it’s very important. We understand that there is a lot to see and do in a small amount of time, but without the proper amount of sleep, you won’t be at your best professionally.
- First work, then play – It’s common to plan a vacation as an extension of a business trip. However, be sure to schedule the vacation after the business portion is finished. It’s difficult to adjust back into “work mode” so quickly in a location you were just laying out on the beach the day prior. If you don’t plan on taking a vacation after, it’s still popular to give yourself an extra day to sightsee after business is taken care of. I mean, you are already there. If you are able to, enjoy it!
Travel is always stressful, but when your professional career is on the line, even more pressure is added. Just like with anything else, practice makes perfect. Rushing is never a good look, especially in a professional setting. Plan, and then plan some more!
Share the biggest mistake you’ve made while traveling for work below.