Love them or loathe them, for many of us business trips are an essential part of our working lives so it makes sense to make them as enjoyable and productive as possible. Sometimes it can also be easy to wonder why, in this age of conference calls and Skype, we even need to travel when we can just communicate online.
But that’s to miss the essential point of making business trips. There’s nothing quite like a face to face meeting to forge and build relationships. Just think of the different sorts of conversations that we can have with those around us in person compared with on the phone or online. The second important thing to keep in mind is that visiting a client, colleague or supplier says is that we’ve made the investment of time and money to go and visit them and this is a touchstone that shows that it’s a relationship that we value.
Thirdly, and this might sometimes seem a little far-fetched, we might even enjoy a business trip by using it as an opportunity to explore somewhere new and maybe even discover something about a different culture. I sure know this, having taken advantage of business trips to discover beautiful cities such as Istanbul or Stockholm in the past.
Of course there are certain things that I typically have to do if I really want my next trip to be a success and here’s a list of essentials. So here’s a few tips on how to make the most of a business trip.
How To Make The Most Of A Business Trip
It sounds obvious but when we’re miles away from home and we discover that we don’t have a plug adaptor or another item of essential equipment of clothing we really will be kicking ourselves. So the first thing I do is to make a list of what I need to pack and tick items off when I put them in my business travel backpack. Since I go away quite often then I found it is a good idea to dedicate a drawer especially for all the kinds of things that I need to take with me. That way I’ll always be able to find them, even when time is tight.
I went as far as putting my packing list online.
I also suggest to make sure to get all your documents in order. Make sure your passport is not about to expire, and apply for any visa well in advance wherever possible. Sites such as iVisa make the application for visas extremely easy, and they help obtaining business visas for countries such as India, Russia, Myanmar and Brazil. You can check them out here.
Stay in touch
One of the biggest worries for anyone who’s traveling is that they’ll be out of touch from both colleagues and their families, not to mention from the day to day running of their business and financial interests. Depending on the business, it could be even catastrophic to take a few days away. I am already worrying about my next trip, as it will be quite a long one and I don’t know how I’ll manage to stay on top of things.
Thankfully, nowadays there’s apps for pretty much everything, allowing me to stay in control, even when we deal with delicate businesses, like forex or even trading CFD online.
I just have to make sure I download the apps I need before I travel, and I’ll have peace of mind. But it may be trickier for colleagues or family to contact us, especially if there’s a time difference to be factored in as well. So I typically work out before I go when would be the best times during my schedule to be contacted. And always set aside to time each day to speak to my family when they’ll all be there to talk.
Explore the places I’m visiting
I’d be missing a big opportunity if all I did was go from meeting to meeting and back to my hotel without exploring the place that I’m visiting. So I always make sure I take a good guide book with me to pick out some essential sites to see and things to do. Even if I have a packed schedule I can always get up early to fit in an hour’s exploring before the working day starts. And if I’m having to go from place to place for different meetings I think about 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.
Timetable meetings carefully
This ties in with the point above. If I can arrange meetings so there are suitable gaps between them this will give me the odd hour to snatch for myself. This will either give me the chance to do some of the exploring that I have suggested, or just give me a little bit of me-time. It’s all too easy to think that I have to pack as much as possible, business-wise, into every trip but I can easily become jaded if it’s one meeting after another. If I’m feeling energized by the new experiences I’m having as part of my travel then this is going to be reflected in the success of the trip.
As I’ve said, business trips are the perfect opportunity for getting to know the people I’m visiting better. So I try not to just let things end when the meeting does. I invite people out for drinks or meals as I’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.
Take along a partner
There’s generally quite a premium for single rooms in hotels so a double won’t cost very much more. So, as long as I’m prepared to pay the difference, I find it a good idea to take a travel partner along with me too. While I am in meetings he can be enjoying their own mini-break and then I’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.
Don’t just stick to hotels
The explosion of services like Airbnb means that there has never been a wider range of places to stay for a few nights. The advantage of them is that it can be far more like a home from home than an impersonal hotel room. The owner might even be on hand to give some of those all-important tips about the area’s “must sees” and “must dos”. So after just a few days I could end up feeling just like a local.
Finally, I pamper myself a little
To outsiders it might seem like traveling on business is all pleasure and no responsibility. But it is stressful. I have to work hard away from home, often in unusual surroundings. But I can make things a little better if I do start to treat myself a little, whether that’s having a relaxing massage in the hotel’s spa, deciding I’m going to get an early night and 12 hours’ undisturbed sleep or an upgrade to business class.
Because, the kinder I am to myself, the better state I’ll be in to really make that business trip count!
Do you have any more tips for business trips to add to mine?