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 or even deciding I’m going to get an early night and 12 hours’ undisturbed sleep.
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?
Legal Disclaimer: this post is written in cooperation with CFD Trading.
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I have always searched for good business travel tips, and they used to be hard to come across. In my previous job as a human rights lawyer, I have had to attend many conferences that took me around the world. I admit it was the most pleasant part of my job, though admittedly business travel can be very stressful. Indeed, I was an avid traveler even before traveling became a lifestyle for me, and sure enough I always took advantage of conferences overseas to explore whichever place I had to go to.
Now that I made a profession out of my passion for traveling, I carry my job around with me, and a good 90% of my trips are for business, whether it is for a marketing campaign, for an industry show or fair, or for a travel writers conference. I feel ready to share my business travel tips.
Best business travel tips – figure out a way to stay at a gorgeous place!
I know that to most people it looks like I am always on vacation, and that I live the glamorous life. But trust me, there is a big difference in traveling for pure pleasure or going on vacation, and traveling for work reasons. I have learned how to prepare for a business trip, and I talked about this a year ago, on a post where I explained what the reality of being a travel blogger is.
Traveling for business is definitely less spontaneous – there’s always a schedule to follow, a meeting to attend, an event to go to. And while someone that travels for pleasure may take his time to get over jet lag and won’t have to bother with a dress code, the same can’t be said for those on business trips.
Having learned from my mistakes, I now follow a few simple business travel tips that help me to be better prepared for business trips. I have decided to write them down here.
7 Business Travel Tips
Keep your passport and other travel documents in order
One of the best business travel tips is to keep documents in good order. 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. Make sure to check your passport and other travel documents before traveling. If you need a visa, do 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!
Top business travel tips – get a cozy place to stay to feel more at home
Always have a good travel insurance
One of the top business travel tips I can give is to make sure to get a travel insurance (this is a good insurance you may want to check out).The last thing I wish for when I am traveling is getting sick, even less so if I am on a business trip. But it may happen, and it sure has happened. 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 any case, among the best business travel tips I can share is to make sure to always carry a small pharmacy. I always have one with me, with prescription medicines as well as other drugs I may need if I get sick – these include paracetamol and imodium.
Join a few frequent fliers programs
One of the best business travel tips I ever got was given to me by a friend back in 1998 (yes, that long ago). He suggested to join Alitalia Millemiglia program, so that each time I’d fly, I’d be awarded with some miles and then, as soon as I’d reach a certain number of miles, I could use them to get a free plane ticket.
Since then, I flew for free to Romania, to Cuba, and I am now about to spend the many miles accumulated in the last couple of years to fly to the other side of the world (location to be revealed soon). One of my favorite tips for business travel is to join at least 3 main frequent flier programs: one with Sky Team, one with Star Alliance, and one with Oneworld.
Top business travel tips – a comfortable place will make you relax more
Get a good place to stay
I generally don’t mind staying in hostel dorms, but if there is one among the good business travel tips I have been given, it is to avoid them whenever I am traveling for business reasons. Indeed, I do need my sleep, especially if I have had a long day and I have a packed schedule the following morning. The last thing I need is having to fight my way to sleep through someone’s snoring, and there’s always bound to be a loud snorer in a dorm. This was the case in my hostel in Tel Aviv. It was so bad that not even ear plugs helped to block the noise.
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 I like about an apartment versus a hotel room is that it is more spacious and feels more homey, so that I am significantly more comfortable. A good apartment comes with all the 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.
MetroResidences has a great selection of serviced apartments in Singapore, one of the world leading business destinations. Some are even pet friendly, and a lot of them have access to a pool – which is great, because it means I can get my workout at the end of the day. Getting a good place to relax and be comfortable is one of the top business travel tips.
Conferences, marketing trips, industry show – make the most of them with a few business travel tips
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 favore and listen to one of the best business travel tips you will come across: carry a portable wireless device, such as Tep Wireless. It saves the hassle of looking for a place with decent wi-fi and of getting a local SIM card, as it connects up to 5 devices at once.
Making sure that you don’t lose good business opportunities any time you are traveling is key. While in Nepal, I had to rely on a local coffee shop for a decent connection, as the wi-fi at my hotel was practically not working. It was annoying. I wish I had listened to those who had suggested how to prepare for business trips and said to take a portable wifi device.
Among the best business travel tips around, there are those that suggest how to pack. Indeed, packing for a business trip is not the same thing as packing for a holiday. There is an unspoken rule that one should dress smartly on business meetings. I always make sure to carry a pair of smart pants and a skirt, a couple of dressy tops and nice shoes that I can wear at meetings, and a dress and heels to wear at events and parties. Packing cubes help keeping things in order inside the suitcase, and minimize the risk of creasing.
One more of my favorite business travel tips is to pack a spare change of clothes in the 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!
Food is always abundant on business trips, but one of the best business travel tips is to eat healthy food.
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. I find that eating food that is too rich and too different from I am accustomed too 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 I perform on the job.
For as much as I like trying new and good food (to a certain extent) among the best business travel tips there’s eating as healthy as possible, and to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Have you ever been on a business trip? What are your top business travel tips?
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