Over the last couple years I have been working for a company that has required quite a bit of business travel. Although I am far from a road warrior, I have some international and domestic travel experience under my belt. Most of this may be common sense to some, however here are a few things that I have learned along the way.
Be careful how early you schedule your travel if your plans require you to be at a vendor site, or meet with a client the same day. You don’t want to hit the wall too early due to picking the red-eye. Sometimes it works better arriving the day before.
My rule of thumb is to fly in the morning if possible to avoid bad weather. Research the weather patterns in the area you are traveling too. Know what times of day are best to arrive/ depart. Anyone who has flown out of Denver in the summer can attest to the afternoons being very stormy and resulting in lengthy delays.
Be sure to get you frequent flyer miles. Depending on how your company manages your travel you can get rewards for the flight and the purchase. You might have to stick to one carrier to maximize this, or you can also use a credit card that gives you points for all purchases. Chris Guillebeau has a great Highbrow course on earning frequent flyer miles.
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are worth the money. Being able to skip the long lines at security and customs make life much easier.
Pick a hotel chain and stick with it for domestic travel within the US. Some are a little fancier than others and you will get a sense of what you like, and what you don’t. I prefer the Hilton branded hotels as I have had good luck with clean rooms and good customer service. I would give the opposite advice when going overseas, just pay attention to the reviews.
Take the time to look at a map of the area so you don’t end up right next to the train tracks or a busy highway. If you have no choice, be sure to get a room that faces away from any loud areas. Also weigh the cost of local amenities with the distance you would have to travel to your work destination each day. You don’t want to spend 45 minuets in the car stuck in traffic just because you picked a hotel next to the only Starbucks in the area.
Traveling alone vs with a group
Hopefully if you have to travel with coworkers you enjoy their company. There isn’t much worse than being stuck next to someone you don’t like on a long flight. On the flip side, even bad company beats being the guy sitting all alone at the bar each night. I have been lucky in that I really enjoy the people I work with, and get a chance to know them better while away on business.
Be careful in what you share with your coworkers and clients while out on after hours events or meals. While everyone tends to open up and share stories after a few drinks, you can’t take back anything embarrassing that you let out in the open. You might not want to share tales of drunken exploits with your boss, clients, or coworkers that may end up your boss one day.
Be sure to pack the right cloths for the weather you expect. Going from Florida to any place that actually gets cold is a challenge considering none of us own a winter coat. Also, pick outfits that are one step more professional than you think you need and that fit well. Being under dressed or uncomfortable will affect your self-confidence and that is the last thing you need while out of your normal element and meeting a big client for the first time.
While you can pick up most things, such as a toothbrush, just about anywhere it is a little more difficult for medications. Be sure to check to make sure you have enough to get you through the trip, and keep them in your carry on bag to ensure they don’t get lost. Should you really need a refill, you can have a prescription transferred to a local pharmacy. This can take a little while but will work in a pinch.
Be sure to check out the local food and cool things to do in the area you are going to visit. Depending on the reason for your trip you may end up with some downtime over a weekend that will allow you to really explore. Traveling for business can be fun and exciting, or be really awful. Most of this will be in your control, so go forth and make sure you have an awesome trip!
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