Preparing yourself for a business trip can be a bit more involved than planning a week at the beach in the Bahamas. Traveling for work is usually done to accomplish a goal like training a new customer, demoing a new product or simply to enhance the relationship with your valued clients.A business trip is not exactly a vacation and although there are some similarities there are a few additional key points and some helpful tools that can help you to be better prepared.
I have done a fair amount of traveling for work. I have traveled domestically, overseas, by car, by plane and I have on occasion overlooked some fairly important planning steps prior to my trip that would have made things run much smoother.
Here are a few things that I have slipped up over the years that could have made the trip less hassle had I done some planning prior:
- Forgotten my passport and only realized at the airport.
- Planned my itinerary on the fly and was late for an important meeting, with an important client.
- Wasn't able to get a ride to the hotel from the airport because I didn't have any local currency in my wallet.
- Went abroad and tried to use my credit card, without notifying my bank first, and got my credit card canceled for suspicious transactions.
- Waited to book my hotel and payed 3 times more because of a popular conference in the area I wasn't aware of.
Of course most people try to have all their stuff packed and figured out at least a day or two before they are scheduled to leave. But with a business trip it is even more important to make sure that everything is organized and well planned in advance so that you are getting the best use of your time. Otherwise, if you don't you might be wasting your time trying to solve an issue in the heat of the moment that you could have resolved back at home. And, it could affect your job.
Here are ten things that you should think about and plan before you leave on your next business trip:
Review your company's reimbursement and travel expense polices. You may have to bring back all your receipts so you can get all your money back that you spent during the trip. You may also want to find out if you have daily limit on expenses like food or travel. It is also possible that your company may have a corporate credit card that you can use so you aren't personally paying for everything up front.
Get all of your travel documents together especially for international travel. This includes your passport if you are traveling outside your home country, your flight, bus or train tickets and itinerary. Also, there may be other location specific things that you need to do well in advance such as mandatory vaccinations.
Make any reservations and travel arrangements necessary. If you are responsible to find and book your travel accommodations, ensure that you are doing it well in advance. Hotels can book up quickly, especially if there is a really popular conference happening in the area that you may or may not be aware of. What would you do if there is no vacancy? Another option is to look at alternatives such as www.airbnb.com to book a room in someone's house. This is also a good option if you are traveling on a budget because they are often times less expensive and can be in a more desirable location. Also, don't forget if you need to rent a car or book a taxi or train to get to the next portion of your trip.
Develop an itinerary and make notes of important contact information. In order to stay organized it is important to assemble all the records, contact information and timing of all aspects of your trip. This includes important information such as flight times, when the hotel lobby opens and closes, if you'll be able to grab a bite to eat when you land, how you will get from the airport to your hotel and if you need a rental car to get to your business meetings. Sharing your document with your company and loved ones is important should you have any delays or there is an emergency situation.
Obtain the proper currency before leaving. When you land and you need to pay someone to get you to your hotel, you will more than likely need to pay them cash. Not having this available prior to your trip can make this a nightmare. There are other things like paying tips for service people who help you during your stay. Also, getting money in the proper currency gets a lot more expensive and harder to do (not to mention a waste of time) when you are already there.
Make sure that your credit card works. When you travel outside of your country (or even within your country) and it is unexpected by your credit card company it can cause huge problems! What happens is that if you travel outside your normal region where you make the majority of your daily purchases the credit card companies get a red flag. From their perspective it is possible that someone has gotten a hold of your credit card number so as a safety precaution they freeze the card to stop any additional purchases. The problem comes in when it is actually you making the purchases and now you can no longer use your card to pay for you and your customer's dinner. How embarrassing! Do yourself a favor and call up your credit card company and bank for that matter and let them know where you are going to be and that they should be expecting charges on your card from that location.
Learn cultural nuances and etiquette when you are traveling outside your country. In Japan if you are late for a business meeting they may very well terminate your whole deal since they find this disrespectful and rude. Knowing these nuances in advance can help you make the proper plans to make sure that your trip is a success on all accounts.
Write a packing list. Start your packing list a week in advance of all the items you will need for your trip. This helps to ensure that you wont forget anything critical that you need for your trip to be a success (or avoid spending extra money cause you forgot to bring underwear!). By starting a week in advance I get all the major stuff down and I add to it through the week as my mind thinks about it in the background. I like to use Evernote because I can access it from anywhere like on my phone or on my computer and I write things down as it comes to me.
Plan some stuff for YOU. Going away on a business business trip should be focused primarily on the objectives at hand. But it can help you to stay focused and engaging, especially on longer trips, if you can slot out a little bit of time for you to recharge your batteries. Try to plan some little things to do after all your work is done and you are done entertaining your customers. Things like taking a little tour of the city or going to the gym in your hotel are great ways to de-stress and be at your optimum level.
Find great products that keep you organized on the go. Great products like our Rise Gear, keep you completely organized for your trip. It helps you to see all the stuff that you have packed so you know what you have and what you don't. It also doesn't hurt that it helps to minimize the wrinkles and is fast to pack and unpack. Other great products to keep you organized might be your laptop bag, a passport wallet or even a smaller more organized walking around purse for women.
As you can see, planning for a business trip is a little more involved than planning your next summer vacation in the Caribbean. But with the right strategies ahead of time you will have set yourself and your business up for success!
What are the things you do to organize for a business trip?