Traveling to far-off destinations, staying in different cities around the world, eating luxurious company paid for meals, and taking in all the local culture and sightseeing along the way. Sounds awesome right? To a casual outsider, frequent business travel can seem like an exciting adventure.
Seasoned business travelers know better. Now imagine being stuck in an airport overnight because of delayed or cancelled flights. Imagine losing your luggage but still having to see your customers. Imagine traveling on weekends to be with a customer first thing Monday morning.
There is a trade off for frequent business travel. In fact, most business travel is rarely exciting and often frustrating. Frequent business travelers are more likely to spend their time at cookie-cutter airport hotels and boring business conferences than amusement parts and exotic beaches. Far from being exciting, business travel can be stressful and even scary.
Experienced business travelers know the best approach is to get in and get out quickly with the best result possible. And, maybe soak up some local culture and sights as you do it. Here are some simple proven ways to make the most out of your next business trip.
Make Your Preferences Known
Even if your company has a set of preferred hotels and airlines, there may be more wiggle room than you think. If you have your own preferred properties and means of travel, do not be afraid to make them known.
Even if you cannot always stay at the hotel you want or book the flight you prefer, being a little assertive could be good for your business travels - and your career. Most employers can be flexible, especially if you are able to get a lower price or find a hotel that is closer to your final destination. In fact, most businesses will not complain as long as you are getting good results for the company.
Back Up Your Backups
Nothing will destroy your business travel plans faster than a lost presentation or missing laptop. If you want your business travel to be successful, you need to plan ahead and be ready for anything.
Even if you already travel with a backup of your presentation, you can't be too prepared. Making multiple backups of all your business travel documents (including presentations, handouts and brochures) will leave you well prepared even if multiple things go wrong along the way.
Business travel does not always provide the same flexibility as leisure travel, but there are still ways to lighten the load. We can't stress this enough, always pack as light, and as flexible, as possible. Spend less time at baggage claim and more time practicing your presentation or getting in a quick nap before you meet the customer.
Most people tend to overpack for their trips and especially so for inexperienced business travelers. Also, keep in mind that you may need room to take back souvenirs for your spouse and kids!
So again, flexibility is key. The type of suitcases and bags you choose can make a big difference. So, look for bags with multiple pockets, zippered compartments and other helpful add-ons. If you can swing it, traveling with just a carry-on bag or two is a great way to simplify your business travels.
If you need some help picking out the right bags to be flexible and light, we recently wrote another great article covering how to buy the best leather laptop bag which you can read here. If you need some quick advice, we've listed a few great examples below:
Check the Weather Forecast
A sudden snowstorm or unexpected downpour could wreak havoc with your business travel plans, but a little preparation can go a long way. Be sure to check for weather forecasts in your destination city, and build some flexibility into your schedule to account for unforeseen events.
Be realistic about your packing and choose flexible items. For example, if the temperature swings wildly, but it shouldn’t rain or snow, consider packing a blazer or sport coat instead of a regular coat. This way you have one item that can keep you warm and also is appropriate for customer meetings and casual meet ups at restaurants and bars.
Another example is packing a pair of comfortable slip on leather shoes or loafers. These are great for travel because of their comfort and can also be worn to dinners or meet ups at bars or coffee shops. Some are even nice enough to wear for business meetings as well.
Again, choose items that can be worn for multiple occasions and for different types of weather if possible.
Take advantage of frequent flier programs and alternative methods of travel.
From booking an earlier flight to skipping the packed rental car counter in favor of a ride sharing service, there are things you can do to adjust your business travel on the fly. So instead of dealing with last-minute snags, you can arrive rested and refreshed. For example, there are some plans out there that grant access to business travel lounges that come packed with extra benefits such as showers, food, and more.
Last bonus tip, for international travelers buy a passport wallet. Let's face it, it's a pain to get a passport for the first time or to renew it. And, it doesn’t take much to wear out a passport especially if you’re carrying it in your pocket or bag. It can be bent, scratched, and soaks up moisture very easily. So, investing in a passport wallet keeps your document safe while also holding other items as well such as credit cards and IDs. It's a no-brainer for the frequent business traveler. We recommend this passport because it includes a very unique US brand:
Business travel can be a stressful experience, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you are embarking on your first business trip or adding another destination to your already crowded schedule, the tips listed above can help you stay sane on the road.
And, if you do it just right, you’ll quickly find extra ways to pack in all that sightseeing and leisure activities everyone always talks about.