Heading on a Business Trip? Here’s How to Do It Well
In the days leading up to the last business conference I attended in Las Vegas, a million different scenarios of what could possibly go wrong began to fill my head: What if my bag gets lost at the airport? Did I book the right flight? What if it rains and I didn’t pack an umbrella?
You can let your employees experience this mild form of panic and figure it out as they go OR you can give them a head start and share these tips that I picked up along the way. Some of these might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to flake on the basics:
Pack accordingly. The morning we were set to depart for Las Vegas, my boss sent me a text indicating the weather would be 109 degrees. No, that’s not a typo. Las Vegas is brutal in the summer. Thanks to this friendly heads up from my boss, I immediately re-packed my suitcase so I wouldn’t be stuck melting in the desert.
Another must-have for any business trip is a computer and/or cell phone charger. If you’re like me, you can’t afford to be without your phone or computer for even a few hours. Always check (and double-check) that you have these packed and ready the day or night before your departure. If you’re rushing from meeting to meeting, you might not have time to charge your phone. This is when a portable charger can really come in handy.
I would also recommend packing as light as possible in order to avoid checking a bag. Not only will you avoid paying any additional fees, but you’ll avoid the risk of it getting lost. Being tasked with having to purchase new clothes and sundries for a 2-3 day trip can be tedious (not to mention expensive).
❑ Check weather
❑ Pack layers
❑ Bring chargers (bonus if you have a portable charger)
❑ Pack business cards and any other business materials
❑ Carry-on bag
Book your travel arrangements ahead of time (and then double check to confirm). This seems like a no-brainer, but there’s nothing worse than stepping out the airport and into an hour-long taxi line (LaGuardia anyone?). Be sure to know all the logistical aspects of your trip beforehand, especially if you have a meeting the same day as your arrival/departure times. There’s nothing more embarrassing than arriving late to a meeting because you didn’t know how to get to the office. Book a car service beforehand, know the location of your designated pick-up spot, and schedule extra time for any speed bumps along the way. Have any reservation confirmations on hand so you don’t waste time scrambling for these details.
❑ Address of destination (or directions from airport)
❑ Transportation researched or scheduled
❑ Have reservation numbers handy
Track your purchases. Depending on the duration of your trip, the amount of money you’ll be spending can be pretty substantial. If you’re using a company credit credit card, do your boss a favor and collect the receipts for any purchases you make. If you’re using your own money to be reimbursed at a later date, do yourself a favor and keep those receipts. No one wants to have to swallow that $150 spent on taking a prospective client out to dinner. Store these receipts in one place, take pictures of each receipt in case you misplace some, and use your travel time to organize them.
❑ Collect receipts (and take pictures in case you lose them!)
Have a plan, but remain flexible. No matter how meticulously you’ve planned every detail of your itinerary, it’s inevitable that some unexpected event will occur during the course of your trip. Maybe you break a heel and have to revert to wearing flip flops with your suit… Maybe your hotel doesn’t have wifi access and you’re forced to take that virtual meeting in crowded coffeehouse…. Maybe a prospective client spills coffee all over you forcing you to wear a coffee-stained suit all day (this has actually happened to a colleague). Whatever the case, things are going to happen, and you can’t let it throw a wrench in your trip. Take these obstacles in stride so you can focus on the goals you laid out before your trip.
Try to have some fun. Of course, the purpose of any business trip is to provide some form of value to your company. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of fun. If you have some time, see the sights, and experience the culture of whatever town you’re in. Business trips are a great opportunity to create memories with your colleagues and explore something new together.
As you and your team are packing up to go on a business trip, I recommend checking in with your fellow travelers to make sure you’ve got your bases covered for the road.