Business travel can be stressful, but it can also be one of the most enjoyable parts of your job – if you know how to do it. If you are looking for a set of easy to follow tips for business travel, you are in the right place: I have lots of experience, as I have been jetting around the world on business trips for more than 15 years now.
Before I go on to tell you everything you need to know to prepare for your business trip and how to make the most of it, let me clarify one thing. For as much as we dislike it, business trips are not nearly as spontaneous as we’d want them to be. There are schedules to follow; meetings to attend; events and networking parties to be seen at – you get the gist.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if your business trip is on the other side of the world, you will have to deal with the jet lag and its many side effects – and won’t have time to rest and properly adjust.
Finally, you will have to pack even more carefully than usual, as you can’t just wear whatever comes to mind when setting off to a business meeting.
Having learned from my mistakes, I now follow a few simple tips for business travel that help me to be better prepared for business trips. I have decided to write them down here so that I can spare you from any trouble. Continue reading to discover the most useful business travel tips.
15 Incredibly Useful Tips For Business Travel
Keep your passport and other travel documents in order
Honestly this is the most important business travel tip I can give you.
Seems pretty obvious, right? Well trust me, it isn’t. I had not realized my passport had almost run out of clean pages, and almost got stuck at the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.
So here are a few things to do:
- Make sure to check your passport and other travel documents before traveling. Take care to see your passport is not about to expire, and that you have at least a few empty pages for stamps and visas.
- If you need a visa, give yourself plenty of time to apply for it, because some embassies may be slow, or the process of getting a visa may be a bit tricky. Sites like iVisa offer fantastic online visa services and offer business visas for countries such as India, Brazil, Russia and Myanmar. I recommend to check them out to speed up the process!
- Get yourself a passport wallet or a document holder where you can keep all your cards, boarding passes, papers and what not in one place.
- Take photos of any receipt to show proof of purchase, as well as of important documents, and store them on your Google Drive.
EXTRA TIP: Make a copy of your passport and keep it separate from your documents. Likewise, bring an extra credit card, and keep it in a different wallet.
Always have a good travel insurance
One of the top tips for business travel I can give you is to get a good travel insurance (this is a good insurance you may want to check out). The last thing you want during a business trip is getting sick, but if that happens you need to be able to see a doctor and get prescriptions, wherever in the world you may be.
Like the time in Mexico when I ate a bad taco and ended up with a major stomach infection. I was really glad I could count on a good travel insurance, so that I could get medical assistance and get back on my feet fast.
In addition, you should also pack a small pharmacy with you, with prescription medicines as well as other drugs you may need for emergencies – things such as paracetamol and imodium.
Make sure to read my post “Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.”
Book direct flights
This is easier said than done for some of us – not all of us live in a big city with a large international airport. Anyways – for as much as you can try to book direct flights only. It minimizes the risk of delays, of missing connections, and limits the oh-so-boring time you spend at the airport.
I also recommend looking for early morning or late evening flights, because they are the ones that have the less chances of being delayed.
EXTRA TIP: Use the app SeatGuru.com to look for the best seats on the plane.
Join a few frequent fliers programs
One of the best tips for business travel I ever got was to join points programs so that I could accumulate miles to get a free plane ticket or to get an upgrade to business class. That’s how I traveled to Romania and Cuba for free (and on vacation).
Make sure to join at least 3 main frequent flier programs: one with Sky Team, one with Star Alliance, and one with Oneworld. Virgin also has a good program. I also recommend buying a business lounge pass, to have access to a set of perks that business travelers can enjoy – things such as hot showers, good coffee, fast Wi-Fi, ongoing buffets, comfortable couches and anything else that will make your layover significantly more pleasant.
Get a good place to stay
THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TIPS FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL – so much so that I had to use capital letters to let you know.
Even if you are the kind of person that doesn’t mind roughing it in a hostel dorm, you really, truly don’t want to stay in shared accommodation during a business trip. You do need your sleep, especially if you have had a long day and you have a packed schedule the following morning.
The last thing you need is having to fight your way to sleep through someone’s snoring. And you definitely can use privacy and a clean bathroom.
One of my favorite tips for business travel is to get a serviced apartment, especially if the business trip is longer than a couple of weeks. What you will like about an apartment versus a hotel room is that it is more spacious and feels more homey, so that you will be significantly more comfortable.
A good apartment comes with all sorts of amenities such as a comfortable bed, a spacious bathroom, a cozy couch and a tv, a fully equipped kitchen, and even a washing machine and a drier. Some apartments are even pet friendly, and a lot of them have access to a pool – which is great, because it means you can get your workout at the end of the day.
Airbnb is a great site where you can look for a good apartment for yourself. Make sure to set the filters of your search so that it shows you apartments which are suitable for business travelers, and select those by “superhosts” only (AKA owners that have lots of experience and great reviews). For an even more upscale option, you can opt for an Airbnb plus.
Take along a partner
There’s generally quite a premium for single rooms in hotels so a double won’t cost very much more. As long as you are prepared to pay the difference, it may be a good idea to take a travel partner along with your too. While you are in meetings, your partner can be enjoying their own mini-break and then you’ll have company in the evening. It may even make socializing with business contacts more fun as they will be able to bring along their partners too.
And if your business trip is at the end of the week, or at the beginning, you can even tie in an extra couple of days for yourself to explore the city.
Stay in touch with your loved ones
One of the biggest worries when traveling is that of being out of touch from both colleagues and family, not to mention from the day to day running of your business and financial interests. Depending on the business, it could be even catastrophic to take a few days away.
Thankfully, nowadays there are apps for pretty much everything, allowing you to stay in control, even when you deal with delicate businesses, like forex or even trading CFD online. Make sure to download the apps you need before you travel, and you’ll have peace of mind.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it may be trickier for colleagues or family to contact you, especially if there’s a time difference to be factored in as well. So one of my other tips for business travel is to work out before you travel when would be the best times to be contacted in your daily schedule, and to set aside the time each day to speak to your family when they’ll all be there to talk. Your kids will appreciate this.
Make sure to have working Wi-Fi
It would seem pretty obvious to have good WiFi when traveling for business purposes, right? Well, do yourself a favor and listen to one of the best business travel tips you will come across: carry a portable wireless device / micro-router and / or get yourself a VPN.
A wireless device saves you the hassle of looking for a place with decent internet and of getting a local SIM card, as it connects up to 5 devices at once.
A VPN will allow you to pass any local firewall or blocks (I had this issue when traveling around Ethiopia) so that you can send photos, files, videos and whatever needed.
Among the best tips business travel is to pack smartly.
Remember that packing for a business trip is not the same thing as packing for a holiday. There is an unspoken rule that you should dress smartly and somewhat formally on business meetings. So here are a few things for your packing list:
- Carry a pair of smart pants or a skirt.
- Pack a couple of dressy tops or a shirt.
- Include a pair of nice shoes that you can wear at meetings.
- Bring a dress or a suit and – if you are girl, obviously – heels to wear at events and parties.
- Pack a set of casual items – gym clothes and a swimsuit if your hotel has a gym or a pool.
- Packing cubes help keeping things in order inside the suitcase, and minimize the risk of creasing.
- Good quality travel accessories are a must.
- A lightweight 4-wheel carry-on suitcase such as this one or, if you prefer a backpack, an anti-theft one.
- Pack items that help you sleep – an eye-mask and earplugs; headphones; your favorite travel pillow.
- Pack a book or a kindle!
- Remember to bring a plug adapter, and a power bank.
For your business trip, I honestly recommend traveling carry on only and sticking to a small bag – it makes traveling easier and smoother. But if your trip is a long one, you may need a bigger suitcase. In that case, you should also pack a spare change of clothes in your carry on luggage. This is an extra precaution, in case the checked in bag gets lost and until it gets delivered. It’s good to have something clean to wear at the end of a long journey!
EXTRA TIP: Always remember to label your luggage!
Pack with security checks in mind
If your business trip requires you to fly (and in some cases, even if you just have to take a bus or a train) you will have to go through a few security checks. Keep this in mind when packing – avoid large bottles of liquids, or any item that may slow down your security checks. You may also want to pay the extra fee (usually no more than a few dollars) for priority check and / or priority boarding. It’s 100% worth it.
EXTRA TIP: If you are a US traveler, you may also want to sign up for TSA pre-check.
Explore the place
You’d be missing a big opportunity if all you did on a business trip was go from meeting to meeting and back to your room without exploring the place at all.
Make sure to take a good guide book with you, and pick out some essential sites to see and things to do. Even if you have a packed schedule you can always get up early to fit in an hour’s exploring before the working day starts. And if you are having to go from place to place for different meetings you can consider walking instead of catching a taxi. It’s quite the best way to get the feel for a new city.
I walked my way around Jerusalem, going from meeting to meeting, and discovered many incredible and hidden gems this way.
Timetable meetings carefully
This ties in with the point above. If you can arrange meetings in a way that there are suitable gaps between them this will give you the odd hour to snatch for yourself and to do some of the exploring or r just give you a little bit of me-time. It’s all too easy to think that you have to pack as much as possible, business-wise, into every trip but you can easily become jaded if it’s one meeting after another.
Remember that if you are feeling energized by all the new experiences you are having as part of your travel then this is going to be reflected in the success of the trip.
Business trips are all about networking. Try not to just let things end when the meeting does. Invite people out for drinks or meals as you’ll probably end up discovering some of the “hidden gems” that only local people know about and which may not even feature in the guide books. That’s how I discovered some of the best restaurants in Rome, for example.
Eat healthy and keep hydrated
Conferences, business meetings and events all have one thing in common: lots of good food, and lots of alcohol at the end. But all that good food and all that alcohol aren’t necessarily good.
Eating food that is too rich and too different from what you are accustomed to may cause troubles in falling asleep. Just as well, research has shown that alcohol has an effect on sleeping patterns – and not sleeping well has an effect on the way you perform on the job.
For as much as you may like trying new and good food (to a certain extent), you should make sure to eat as healthy as possible, and to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Finally, pamper yourself a little
To outsiders it might seem like traveling on business is all pleasure and no responsibility. But it is stressful. You have to work hard away from home, often in unusual surroundings. But you can make things a little better if you treat yourself a little, whether that’s having a relaxing massage in the hotel’s spa, deciding you are going to get an early night and 12 hours’ undisturbed sleep or an upgrade to business class.
Because, the kinder you are to yourself, the better state you’ll be in to really make that business trip count!
Have you ever been on a business trip? What are your top business travel tips?
These posts may come in handy when preparing for your business trip:
- 23 Useful Tips For Long Haul Flights
- 5 Perks Of Flying Business Class
- The Art Of Packing Light: 21 Useful Tips To Travel Light