One of the reasons I enjoy travelling for business is because I'm a business travel veteran. I know all the strategies for making travel more comfortable, affordable and efficient. If you're the complete opposite, you're in luck… I'm in the mood to share. Let's take a look at some business traveler basics.
Booking Your Travel
First and foremost, explore your company's travel policies. Make sure you know how you're paying for your business travel so you don't end up waiting forever for your travel reimbursement. Is there a company credit card you're supposed to use? Is there a particular hotel chain you're encouraged to book? Asking lots of questions up front makes the booking process much easier.
Next, if you want to be a strong business traveler, make sure you're prepared for your trip. Get your paperwork together—valid passport (if necessary), driver's license and any other information you may need while you're out of town, like proof of insurance if you're renting a car. I always keep copies of my passport and license in my travel bag just in case they're lost or stolen so I can expedite replacements.
If you're using your credit card for on-the-go expenses, make sure you've selected a card with a robust rewards program. Earning cash back or free flights can be a perk of being a business traveler.
Once you know your company policy and have your paperwork in order, do a little research about your destination. Before you book your flight and hotel, make sure you're staying in a location that's both convenient and safe. I always print my confirmations just in case there's a power outage or some other technical difficulty. Sometimes there's no substitute for a hard copy.
Packing for Efficiency
My number one piece of business traveler advice? Don't cheap out on your travel gear. Investing in a good quality carry-on bag is worth every penny.
With the right preparation, business travel can be profitable and much more enjoyable.
Once you've got the right, durable gear, I've found that flexibility is the key to efficient packing. All my travel clothes are interchangeable, so if I spill coffee on one shirt, I can mix in others seamlessly without needing to buy new pants. Mix and match is critical for travel attire. Also, material that doesn't turn into a rumpled mess helps you look and feel professional even after a long travel day.
In terms of technology, my keyword for business travel is “backup." I carry my phone charger, of course, but I also bring a backup. If a device is critical for you to get your work done, have a plan in case something goes wrong. All my files are backed up to the cloud so that if my laptop falls in a river, I can still get to my important information. Think through possible pitfalls and be prepared with a backup plan.
Day of Travel
Travel can be stressful, and business travel is no exception. Do your best to get a good night's sleep before you leave, and take every opportunity to refresh with a power nap as needed. Doing so helps to separate the expert business travelers from the novice ones.
Try to stay hydrated and make healthy choices for your meals. I also schedule regular workouts because I've learned that I sleep better and have more energy when I've exercised. If you're not sleeping on your flight, use the downtime to make sure you're prepared for any meetings or presentations.
Also, start your trip off on the right path by tracking your expenses. Save every single receipt. I've discovered that having one specific spot to stow receipts helps me ensure I never misplace them.
When You Arrive
I travel with a printed itinerary—again, just in case my phone battery dies and I can't access my calendar or email. On that itinerary, I include all my meetings and appointments, along with any names I need to remember. Keeping your business traveler info in one spot means that you don't have to fumble through business cards to remind yourself of important names or details.
If your travel involves a significant time change, I find the best jet lag prevention is to just jump into your day and start operating on the new time as quickly as possible. You'll probably feel tired, but you're generally better off if you can avoid sleeping during the day—power naps excluded, of course. If I'm worried about jet lag, I often schedule a light first day of work.
When You Return
Again, if I'm not exhausted, I frequently use my return flight to get started on my business travel paperwork—expense reports, thank-you notes and follow-up chores. Working while thoughts and impressions are fresh helps me ensure I don't miss any details necessary to wrap up successful business travel.
When I get home, I wash my business clothes, replace any toiletries that need it and repack my business travel bag so I'm ready to head out on the next adventure. With the right preparation, business travel can be profitable and much more enjoyable.
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