Hitting the road on a business trip is a great way to break routine and see the beautiful things the world has to offer. Although, at times, business trips can be stressful, with juggling your daily responsibilities on top of travel inconveniences, they can be conquered with the right preparation and mindset.
Whether it be your first time on a trip, or just another day on the road (for those road warriors out there,) it is always important to experiment with time-saving strategies and productivity hacks.
Before you head out on the road, or make way to your next convention, here are some tips that will help to make your time away from home easier and better.
1. Be Prepared – Packing and Dressing For Your Trip
When packing for your business trip, make sure to focus on the essentials and steer far away from over packing. First, make a list of everything you are going to need. Kevin Huhn, a frequenter of the road and business growth strategist, says, “pack less than you think!” Arriving at your destination with more than you need will not only clutter your hotel room, but it will put more stress on you as you try to figure out what to do with all your stuff.
Dressing appropriately is one of the key etiquette practices in business. Whether it be on the plane, in your hotel room, or at a conference or meeting, looking your best, while appearing to those around you as professional, is always the best choice. Make sure you appear as groomed and professional as if you were meeting with your boss in the office back home. Even before you get the chance to speak with your business clients, your clothes make the first impression.
When not in your room, remember to dress as professional as possible. This does not mean a suite at all times, but entails that you look respectable even when going out to the store. You are representing your company while on these types of trips. It is always a good idea to put forth the best version of yourself that will represent and promote the company’s good name.
When possible, consider taking only carry ons rather than checked luggage. Although this may not be the most ideal choice in some circumstances, you don’t want to be stuck wondering what to wear while your checked bag is in Utah and you are in New York. If you must check some luggage, make sure to keep all essentials in your carry on along with an extra set of clothes. This will help enormously when your bag is lost and you have a meeting two hours after you land.
2. Form Good Habits – Routines, Eating, and How to Stay Healthy While Traveling
Sticking to a routine can be one of the most essential things anyone, especially business travelers, can do to stay productive. Being out on the road may feel like vacation, where there are little rules and a lot of time for play, but with the freedom of being out of the office and away from home comes the responsibility for disciplined decision making. Be prepared for your trip by scheduling each day in advance and updating your appointment book consistently. Wake up a few minutes earlier than you normally would at home to review where you need to be that day as well as the transportation required in between each appearance.
Eating a healthy, disciplined diet is something almost all of us strive for. In reality, it is easier said than done. For those on business trips, this reality may be even harder. But being stuck in another free breakfast/lunch situation doesn’t mean you have to eat pastries, muffins, and doughnuts every day. A former Management Consultant turned Executive Coach Bob Olmstead says the biggest issue people make on business trips “is to not watch their food and water intake. Lots of booze and coffee, with lots of sugar, is how to play your D game versus your A game.”
Take care of yourself by packing healthy snacks and beverages you enjoy, instead of shopping around at the airport as you wait for your flight. Filling up a reusable water bottle and eating things you brought will help to cut down your spending and keep you from eating anything deleterious to your health.
3. Trip Etiquette – Being Professional, Respectful, and Understanding
Along with ensuring that you are always on time and looking professional, maintain social etiquette with everyone you encounter, not just your clients. Further, whether it be speaking with other business men and women, or sharing a hotel room with a coworker, being professional, understanding and respectful can go a long way.
Sharing a room is never desirable, especially when you are jet lagged, exhausted, and would like nothing other than some alone time. But remember, others are out on the road away from home as well. Everyone is in the same boat, facing the same challenges. Be as lenient and understanding with your roommate as possible, and remember, it’s only temporary.
Speak with your roommate and make a set of rules. Communicate about bed time, who showers first, tv time, and an agreeable time to wake up. Speaking about these types of things will put you both on the same page and establish trust. No one wants to stay in a room with someone who is obstinate.
4. Have a Good Time After Work – Late nights and Free Time
You’re in a new place away from home, you have to decide whether to go out and explore, or stay in and recover for the next day’s meetings. The night life while on a business trip can be a fun, different place to mingle with those you are involved with during the day. Allow yourself to network with your co-workers in a more relaxed environment, but do so in moderation. Remember to stick to what you know you can handle.
Kris Morton of Nomad By Trade reminds us that “you know how much you can drink without it being a problem. You know how much sleep you need in order to function the next day.” She follows up by suggesting that you “set limits for yourself and then go have a blast!”
Calling it a night doesn’t have to be an embarrassing thing. Even though you may not be working during the night, it is best to be responsible and remember you are on a trip representing your company.
Using your free time effectively doesn’t just include going out, having fun, and knowing when to head back to your room. It includes being productive with your time outside of the meetings and conferences by getting some much-needed relaxation time or sleep along with getting prepared for the next day with any preliminary work like reviewing your notes or a client’s background.
Just as in life, balance is everything. If you prepare to look the part, present your best self to everyone you meet, keep track of your responsibilities, stay within your own limitations, and take time out to rest, you will meet the challenges of business travel head on.
Patrick is a recent graduate of the University of New Haven with a passion for writing and creating thought-provoking content. When he’s not writing he’s either watching too many TV episodes or riding his skateboard.