Just because you’re travelling for business and not pleasure shouldn’t be reason enough to suck all the joy out of your trip. After all, a change of scenery can be as good as a holiday and if you plan it right, you could squeeze in some valuable ‘me-time’ between meetings and deadlines.
Whether you’re a first-timer or an old-hat business traveller, no doubt you’ll get some use out of these handy tips and tricks for making your business trip a success!
- Don’t forget your travel documents. Print out two sets of your travel documents ahead of time to make sure you know everything about where you’re going and when. Keep one set in your luggage and one on your person. This includes your hotel reservations and other transportation docs. Keep certified copies of all your ID documents as well – passport, drivers license, and the like. You never know when you might need them!
- Don’t be too dependent on your laptop, tablet, or cell phone connection. All of your mission-critical data should be backed up on paper. If you need to call someone and your phone is flat or you can’t find anywhere to charge your iPad to get access to your contact lists – this is a potential disaster when you’re away from your home/office. Having an on-paper back-up list of all contacts, addresses and other vital information can quite possibly save you from having a stress-induced heart attack.
- Always know the lay of the land when it comes to connectivity. Make sure you know where all the closest Wi-Fi spots are in relation to your hotel. Find out from your 3G service provider what the signal is like in the area you’ll be travellingt o. Make sure your pay-as-you-go data services are recharged with sufficient credit to keep you going over the duration of your trip, in case there’s a problem with Wi-Fi and you can’t find anywhere to buy recharge vouchers.
- Make sure you have all the cables and USB doodads that you need. Check that you’ve packed your laptop charger, your wireless mouse, your phone’s USB cable and charger and your own power adaptors. Pack spare batteries and make sure you charge everything before you leave on your trip. Try not to use any of your gadgets as entertainment while you’re traveling – this will let you hit the ground running (and powered up) once you arrive at your destination. Take a paperback instead, as this doesn’t require batteries or charging.
Less is more
- Make a list and check it twice. Write down what you think you’ll need on the trip and then cut it down as much as possible. Keep everything you need as carry-on luggage rather than check-in luggage. This will allow you to use the online check-in facilities and will give you more time to relax before your flight and prepare for your meetings. Keep your list in your luggage, to ensure you don’t leave items behind when you pack to return home.
- Take care of the money, up front. Find out about your company’s expense policy. Get an idea of your travel allowance and find out what will and what won’t be reimbursed. Make sure you have money! Ensure you have sufficient funds in your bank account to cover any incidental costs you might incur, especially if you don’t have a company credit card. Keep some cash on you for those places where plastic isn’t accepted. Keep receipts for everything, so that you can file an accurate expense report on your return. If you have a habit of losing bits of paper – use your smartphone to take photos of the receipts or download an expense-tracking and receipt-capturing app.
Beat the business trip blues
- Upon becoming a serial business traveller, it’s advisable to join a loyalty programme. Becoming a frequent flyer can pay off – expect perks like access to special airport lounges, additional luggage allowances, free coffee and special winks from the pretty air hostess – so look into the various airline options.
- Keep an itinerary for your trip. Arriving a day in advance, if possible, can give you the time you need to get yourself set up, acquainted with surroundings and settle in. Establish reasonable goals and expectations for yourself for each trip. Give your potential and existing clients sufficient advance warning of your trip so that you can set up meetings. Don’t try to cram too much into one day. Space out your meetings and allow yourself time to get from one point to another. Leave time for meals. Book in some pool time and schedule a massage before you depart – ensuring you return back to work feeling revived, relaxed and like you achieved something worthwhile!
Do your homework
- Just because you hire a car doesn’t mean you have to hire a GPS as well! If possible, before your trip, use Google Maps to print driving directions and maps of all your destination points to avoid getting lost. You can also use Google Maps to find nearby points of interest or facilities for you to conduct your meetings or book that massage. Location-based apps like Foursquare are also useful for finding anything from pharmacies, restaurants, nightclubs, and libraries, so sign up and load the app on your phone before you set off.
- Be prepared. Brush up on local practices, food and other destination-specific customs (like tipping your waiter, taxi driver or concierge) so that you make the right impression with your clients. For instance, there might be cultural differences in the handling of business cards, using first names, the significance of certain gestures that could make or break your deal if you haven’t done your homework.
Once you’re back home don’t forget to file that expense report ASAP. It’s also a nice touch to send all the contacts and acquaintances you made on your trip a quick note of thanks – this helps to strengthen the relationship and keep the lines of communication open.
After all this, it’s probably time to start planning your next business trip! Bon voyage!