People either love or hate business travel. If you get to combine business and leisure, then it changes things – but working and traveling is an incredibly draining and lonely experience, especially with all the delays and cancelations we have seen ever since the pandemic. And, it’s not only the transportation part that’s a nuisance. Travel means finding land transportation between the airport, your hotel, and your meeting space. Then, there’s the loneliness of working without the support of your colleagues in a city where you likely don’t know anyone — eating alone, working alone in your hotel room, and being away from your family.
On the flip side, business travel is a great opportunity for those who love to explore the globe and experienced travelers know you can get the most from your travel with a few simple actions. To help you navigate your first (or next) business trip like a champ, you need to follow these seven tips below.
Managing business travel like a pro
1. Know your company policies
Before you leave, check your company’s policies on business travel. That way, there won’t be any confusion concerning claims and reimbursement procedures. Some companies have stricter rules than others, so before you make your reservation, check to ensure you won’t have problems. Most companies require a paper trail confirming your travel plans; some even require you to make all arrangements through their approved agent. Often, companies require approval for travel arrangements before you leave. Familiarize yourself with the rules at your company, even if you traveled for them in the past, as they might update their rules over time.
Your IT department will also need to ensure that you can still access your work while you are away, so take your laptop or tablet in so they can check that it is configured correctly and has the requisite permission to access cloud storage from your destination. The last thing you want when you’re overseas and chasing a deadline is to find you can’t access a needed form or to find yourself on hold with a technician at 2 am.
2. Check-in online
This is an age-old travel tip, but you’d be amazed at how many people still forget this crucial little time-saver. Most airlines allow you to check in online the day before your flight. At this time, you can pre-check bags (which might save you money, depending on the airline), change your seat assignment, and get on the list for seat upgrades. Making a long flight is easier when you get upgraded to first class (a perk most companies are no longer willing to pay for).
If you travel frequently, investigate signing up for Pre-check. Although this involves a small yearly fee, Pre-check allows you to speed through security faster and with less hassle. For instance, most airports don’t require Pre-check passengers to remove electronics from their bags or remove their shoes. If you travel internationally, there’s a global version of this that saves even more time.
You never know when traffic or delays will affect your journey, so the more time you can save in other areas, the better. That way, when you arrive at the airport, you can do a quick luggage drop and destress by breezing through security, so you can focus on the purpose of your trip, like marketing your brand.
3. Travel essentials
Always keep a change of clothing in your carry-on bag. In fact, most seasoned travelers recommend you travel with everything in your carry-on, which saves time waiting for checked bags and means you never face the inconvenience of a lost bag. Turbulence and clumsiness often result in stains and spills, so that extra outfit is essential, especially if you plan to go straight from the airport to meet with clients. Most business travel trips have a tight schedule, so unnecessary stops to change clothing or wait for a checked bag just add stress to a situation that you don’t need with all the other stressors of business travel.
Some essential items to include in your carry-on bag include items like a power bank to charge your business devices, power adapters if you are leaving the country, and noise-canceling headphones to ensure you get enough sleep on the plane. Personal items include any medication, small-sized toiletries so you can refresh on the plane, and something to make the trip go faster. Most airlines no longer offer screens on long flights so you need your own device if you want to watch movies.
4. Travel insurance
Even though it’s not a legal requirement, you should always purchase travel insurance before heading out on a business trip. Some companies pay for the employee’s business travel insurance, but if yours does not. you should compare travel insurance options to find the best one that suits your needs and pocket.
There are several types of travel insurance available and the best option for your unique requirements depends on a few factors. Some of these deciding factors include frequency, destination, and duration. Business travel insurance comes with an added layer of protection to cover business equipment, enabling you to cover additional costs that ordinary travel insurance policies do not cover.
5. Confirm reservations
One of the most common complaints from well-traveled businesspeople is that reservations are often wrong. Don’t just assume that everything works according to plan all of the time. Call ahead and confirm your reservations, or ask your assistant to do the same if you’re lucky enough to have one. As we saw over the last year or so, travel companies are still struggling with the effects of the pandemic and many make changes to schedules after you make a reservation. Moreover, changes occur within hours of your flight when airlines experience problems. Check on your flight reservations and always check your flight status before leaving for the airport.
Calling ahead to confirm gives you peace of mind and ensures you have somewhere to check in when you arrive. Double-bookings happen more often than you’d think, and instead of having to deal with it at the last minute – check first. Download the airline app so you have up-to-date information on your flight from your smartphone. This alleviates the stress of rushing to make a flight only to find it’s delayed.
6. Plan your layover
If you ask any experienced business traveler for horror stories, you are guaranteed to get at least a few recounts that involve layovers and missed flights. Commonly known as “the airport dash”, you’ve probably seen this in a film before – it’s that breathless mad rush through the airport as you look for your connecting flight. Gate changes are also increasingly common so, before you make a mad dash to the other side of the airport, check to see that your gate hasn’t changed.
Post-pandemic society suggests you need a three-hour minimum for a layover. That gives you enough time to make your connection without breaking a sweat, especially if your first flight is delayed. Plan your layover to ensure you can relax and stay productive. Most airports now offer WIFI and power so you can polish off your presentation, Facetime your family, or check your email for any changes. Find an empty gate to relax and recharge before your next flight.
7. Money matters
While tipping isn’t a worldwide custom, in many countries – a tip is expected. Know the customs in the areas you plan to visit.
Hotel and restaurant staff always appreciate a tip. Many of these workers earn a nominal salary, so your tip could be their next meal or contribute to household bills. It is always a good idea to keep small bills handy for tipping wait-staff and bellhops. Post-pandemic, tipping has become more widespread as workers attempt to recover from low wages during the pandemic.
If you rent a car, keep in mind that places may have valet-only parking. Keep a few singles and fives on you, and remember to replenish them as you go along.
By following those seven simple tips, you can all but ensure that your trip will be smooth sailing – or flying, as is likely the case.
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