Business trips don’t have to be a grind. Nobody likes the specter of traffic jams, uncomfortable flights, jetlag, equipment malfunctions or lost baggage, but traveling for business doesn’t have to be one of the downsides to your job. With a little planning and the right attitude, you can make your trip productive and enjoy the journey.
Plan for the Unexpected
Schedules are tight and there are always unexpected complications. Plan to give yourself as much time as possible to get the job done. Carry copies of files on a thumb drive and back it up in a cloud-based storage. Estimate your expenses and then add 10% for incidentals. Allow yourself an extra hour or two in your schedule.
Meticulous planning can make your trip less stressful. However, air-tight deadlines don’t allow space for “life” to happen and can result in having your whole trip thrown off course by a traffic jam.
If at All Possible, Get out of the Office
It’s easy to get into the habit of going from the hotel to the worksite and back again without ever exploring the city. One of the great aspects of traveling for work is that you have an opportunity to visit many interesting cities.
Take some time to sample some of the local restaurants, bars, and eateries. Take a walk in a scenic park. Attend a local event. Keep a travel journal and note the interesting things you encounter like Japanese vending machines that sell fried chicken.
Take plenty of pictures of your rambling adventures and any tourist traps you happen to visit. Taking time to decompress after a long day at the office will help you to focus while you’re in the office and maintain a positive outlook.
Treat Your Team
No time to get out of the office. No problem. Find a local hotspot and get to know your co-workers better over a working lunch. Order ribs from the best rib shack in town and surprise your team. Take advantage of the hotel’s amenities and have a meeting or brainstorming session poolside. Remember, this isn’t spring break, you still have to get the job done. But nobody said it had to be boring.
Meet New People
Chances are you have plenty of Facebook friends or Linked in connections that you have never or very rarely meet. If you’re going to be in town, it’s a good idea to let them know and arrange to have a coffee. Not only are you networking, but you might get a tour from a local. If a meeting isn’t an option, you can still ask for local recommendations for restaurants, bars, shops, and places to avoid.
Put All of Your Essentials in Your Carry-on Luggage
Don’t let lost or damaged bags ruin your trip or slow your productivity. While most of us carry our laptops with us at all times, not all of us carry our toothbrush or pajamas in our carry-on bags.
Your carry-on luggage should be able to sustain you through the first twenty-four hours of your trip, even if your bags are lost. Pack smart. It can be the difference between showing up to the office prepared or not.
And Finally, Avoid the Annoyances
If screaming babies and giggling schoolgirls annoy you, spend the extra cash to ride in the quiet car. Fly business class. Do you hate the inconvenience of not being able to cook your favorite vegan dishes? Get a hotel room with a kitchenette. If you are staying at an Airbnb or researching alternative places to stay in London, be sure to check out others’ experience at the property.
Use the mobile check-in options. Bring extra socks and earplugs and one of those ugly travel pillows if you need one. Don’t let avoidable annoyances put a damper on your good time.