Travel for pleasure is always fun, but traveling for business can get a little tricky. Suddenly, you have to worry about what to pack, if you can have wine with dinner and how you’re going to get yourself and your coworkers from point A to point B. Lucky for you, we’ve put together five business travel tips that will take you from, “how do I get through this trip?” to “why don’t I do this more often?” in no time.
1. Pack Smart
To be a successful business traveler, you have to put in the work before you ever leave your house. When you’re packing, do your best to pack versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched based on the professional and social requirements of your trip. For example, you could always wear a pair of black slacks more than once, but it would be tough to repeat a pair of coral capris without calling attention to them. Also, limit yourself to two pairs of shoes when possible. If you find you really need a third pair, wear them on the plane to save space in your suitcase. You should also consider leaving some of your toiletries at home and using the ones provided by your hotel (same goes for a hair dryer). Finally, pack what you need to help you sleep on the plane. Headphones, eye masks and earplugs are all good options.
2. Plan Ahead
If you want to look like a seasoned traveler, make sure you’ve double checked your reservations and itinerary before you step on the plane. You’ll want to ensure your rental car is booked, that your hotel is squared away and that you’ve given yourself enough time to make your flight. It’s also a good idea to make dinner reservations if you plan on taking clients out for a meal. If you’re feeling ambitious, look up some local restaurants with great reviews and enjoy some regional dining instead of the mainstream chain restaurants. And this probably goes without saying, but you should also confirm any appointments or meetings before you leave town.
3. Skip Ahead
Long lines at airport security can really crush a person’s spirit, especially if you’re looking at a long day of travel. Fortunately, there are a couple of options to ease the pain. With the TSA Pre-Check program, qualified individuals are routed into special security screening lines where they don’t have to remove their shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets. Once you’re approved for the program, you’re given a KTN number and you enter it when you make your flight reservation. For those flying into the United States, there’s the Global Entry program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Pre-approved, low-risk travelers are able to enter the U.S. through automatic kiosks at select airports. You simply go to the kiosk, scan your passport, complete a customs declaration and move on to collect your baggage. Both programs will save you time at the airport, but remember to get approved in advance.
4. Keep it Clean
Germs are everywhere and recycled cabin air is probably something you’re dreading, especially if it’s flu season. Consider packing sanitizing wipes and thoroughly wiping down your tray table, arm rest and television buttons (should you be so lucky to have one) when you sit down on the plane. If you need to use the restroom, take your wipes with you and do a quick wipe down before you use the facilities. The wipes will also come in handy once you arrive at the hotel. Use them to wipe down the remote, the phone, doorknobs and the bathroom. Some hotels are better than others at cleaning their rooms and this will help cut down on the germ factor. The last thing you want is to be sick during your business trip.
5. Stay Professional
This is an opportunity to make a great impression on both your clients and your coworkers. It starts from the moment you arrive at the airport so while you may want to wear sweatpants on the plane, opt for business casual instead. And once you’re on the plane, turn down the alcohol. You’re probably thinking a glass of wine will help you relax and catch some sleep, but it’s more likely to leave you feeling dehydrated and hungover. Likewise, take it easy on the alcohol when you go out for meals. It’s tempting to overindulge (it’s being paid for!), but not worth the embarrassment should something go wrong. And if you find yourself being put out during your trip – a canceled flight, your room isn’t ready, the rental you reserved is missing – remember to keep your cool. Treating people with respect when you’re in a stressful situation is sure to impress those around you. Not to mention, it’s the right thing to do.
If you rarely go on business trips, it can be a lot of fun to get out of the office for a few days. And if use the tips above, you’ll look like a seasoned business traveler. Just remember – pack smart, plan ahead and always keep it professional.