Unfortunately, traveling for business isn’t as easy as packing up your car or shoving your carry-on items in the overhead space. To make the agony of travel a little more bearable and keep you from looking like the new kid in the airport, here are five tips to travel like a pro:
1. Research your travel destination before you board the plane –Typically, you’re going to have down time on business trips so it’s a good idea to look up popular bars, restaurants and coffee shops in the city. And, if traveling with a client who isn’t familiar with the area, it’s a good idea to get a feel of the land ahead of time. That way, when the down time comes, you can suggest things to do and get to know your client a little better in the process
2. Pack the important stuff in your carry-on – A co-worker shared a horror story with me once that went a little something like this: “I flew to Germany for a meeting with a global company’s executive team and made it there without my luggage.” Be sure you have the essentials with you at all times – a business suit, contacts, medicine, glasses, basic toiletries, jump drive with your presentation and chargers should all find room in your carry-on to avoid headaches and frantic shopping trips around an unknown city.
3. Know how travel expenses will be handled –Talk to your office travel coordinator, finance department or supervisor before you leave about how to handle expenses acquired during your time away from the office. Some offices choose a per diem, while others require employees to keep track of their receipts and fill out an expense report upon returning. Clearing up any confusion about how to handle finances before you leave will make sure your company and your pocketbook are left surprise-free. Also, don’t forget cash. You’ll need it to tip the folks that make your life easier, like doormen, bellhops and maids.
4. Confirm all the details of the trip before you leave – Make sure everything is in check prior to leaving the office – including your flight, hotel and car rental – and be sure to bring the confirmation emails with you so you have it if any issues arise. If you have to ship product or additional materials to your destination ahead of time, it is best practice to call the location ahead of time and give them a heads up as to exactly what and when your things will be arriving.
5. Download travel apps – If you’re flying, there’s a good chance your airline has an app that lets you check your flight status, change your flight time and check-in online. Plus, car service apps, like Uber, make sure you get from Point A to Point B on-time, without worrying about trying to hail down a cab or navigate through an unfamiliar city. If your destination is within driving distance, apps like Waze can give you inside information on traffic patterns, slowdowns and construction areas. Also, the likes of Yelp and UrbanSpoon give you quick access to nearby restaurants and cafes.
Most of all, don’t forget to have fun. Take the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, develop a more personal relationship with coworkers and connect with your clients. After all, there’s no better place to learn than on the road.
Kelsey Spellman (@kelseyspellman) is a social influence manager at The Adcom Group, a full-service communications agency in Cleveland, Ohio. Kelsey works with a variety of B2C and B2B clients, specializing in media and blogger relations and experiential marketing. Kelsey graduated from Ohio University in 2011 with a degree in public relations and blogs over at starfishsnacks.wordpress.com.