How To Plan For A Successful Business Trip!



As the world slowly but surely re-opens, you might find yourself with an upcoming business trip or two looming on the horizon. Just last week, I had the chance to travel to the Midwest for work; and a few months back ,I was able to combine a business trip with a vacation in London. And after staying home and avoiding travel for the last two years, I had a reasonable amount of anxiety around making sure both of these trips went off without a hitch.


If you have an upcoming work trip in your schedule, read on for some tips on how to make sure that every day is smooth sailing!


Make sure to pack the essentials in your carry on:

Consider all the potential activities you’ll be taking part in… from work presentations to group dinners. And I have personally had my luggage lost or delayed by the airline several times in the past, so I now always make sure to pack any absolutely essential items in my carry-on (during one fateful time trip, I arrived in Croatia while my luggage managed to stay behind at JFK Airport, and I nearly had to spend the entire week wearing an “I Love Game of Thrones” t-shirt that was sold in a Dubrovnik gift shop).


Other items you should be sure to include in your carry-on:

  • Mini toiletries

  • All of your chargers and all of your electronic devices

  • Any medications

  • At least one change of clothes

  • Passport, cash, and credit cards

  • A handful of business cards, of course!

I have become much better at packing light over the years, thanks to lots of compression bags, a sturdy carry-on suitcase from Bloomingdale’s, and my trusty Beis travel bag.


Book any necessary travel/sleeping arrangements:

Sometimes, all of your airline tickets and hotels will be booked for you. Other times, you’re on your own! If it’s the latter, check in with the folks running the event to see what they recommend in terms of lodgings (and if there are any special discounts associated with your company/conference).


If you’re booking your own flights, make sure you plan to arrive with plenty of time to rest up and get checked in before any work events begin (and, of course, to accommodate for any potential flight delays!). Depending on how long you plan to be there, you may also want to look into either renting a car, utilizing Uber/Lyft/local car services, and/or navigating public transportation.


Check the forecast:

This is a big one and one that will impact the clothing and accessories you decide to pack! When I checked the weather before my recent work trip to Nebraska, the forecast said “sunny and 50 degrees” for most of the scheduled days. However, I had to do a little extra digging to determine if that was a warm 50 degrees or a cold 50 degrees (Answer: It was warmer than a New York City 50 degrees!). No matter what, I always throw in a small umbrella (Muji makes a good foldable and lightweight option) and a sweater for the airplane (layers are key!).


Keep records of your receipts:

Whether you will be using a company credit card or covering costs and submitting reimbursement requests later, it’s important that you keep track of all of your expenses. Hold onto your receipts and consider using a receipt tracking software like Quickbooks or Expensify to help take photos and organize (in case any receipts go missing).


Create a detailed itinerary!

On my most recent work trip, a colleague created a shared Google doc in which everyone could add their travel, lodging, and trip details. This was a great way to help coordinate any carpools and activities! Even if you are traveling alone, it’s a great idea to create one document that breaks down every day of your trip in detail. It helps me to feel grounded during the chaos of travel and gives me a sense of when any breaks in my work schedule will be.


Print work documents ahead of time!

On my most recent work trip, a colleague created a shared Google doc in which everyone could add their travel, lodging, and trip details. This was a great way to help coordinate any carpools and activities! Even if you are traveling alone, it’s a great idea to create one document that breaks down every day of your trip in detail. It helps me to feel grounded during the chaos of travel and gives me a sense of when any breaks in my work schedule will be.


Do plenty of prep for your work events:

If you are going to be presenting or handing out resumés or sharing pitch decks, it might be a good idea to have at least a few of those documents printed in advance. If you don’t have the time or the luggage space, consider calling your hotel to see if they have a business office where you can get those items printed (or checking the area for a nearby Staples).


Schedule some time off to explore:

We all need a little rest and relaxation too! Make sure that you aren’t cramming in too many back-to-back work events without making time to go for a walk in the area or unwind at the hotel. Even if I’m only in town for a few days, I love to look up any popular attractions and local favorite restaurants before I get there. Just because you’re traveling for work, doesn’t mean you can’t take in a few of the sights too (just not on the company dime, of course!).


Connect with colleagues about their plans:

A business trip is a great opportunity to connect with your colleagues on a deeper level and make new connections while at networking events. If you have the time and opportunity to attend a group dinner, outing, or happy hour, those can be a great way to make new friends and connect with like-minded individuals. And if there’s no time to grab a coffee with that great new connection while you’re on the trip, be sure to exchange information and follow-up with them over email or LinkedIn.


Expect the unexpected!

Even my most carefully planned trips typically involve at least one delayed flight or bout of car rental confusion. Embrace the notion that life sometimes has other plans than the ones we so carefully put together, and try to stay as flexible as possible while on the go. Keep your phone charged at all times so that you can reconfigure your schedule on the fly (consider investing in a portable battery charger – they have come to my rescue on more than one trip in the past).

 

BONUS TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL:

Learn a handful of basic phrases:

Download Duolingo before your trip and practice the basics, such as… “hello,” “goodbye,” “please,” “thank you,” and “where is the bathroom.”


Add an international phone plan:

Make sure to let your phone carrier know that you’ll be traveling at least a week in advance of your trip and find out what international plans they offer so you’re not hit later with a bunch of unexpected extra charges.


Alert your credit card companies:

Also, let them know if you'll be traveling to more than one country! If you've already informed your credit card company that you'll be traveling to London, but then decide to take a spontaneous weekend trip to Paris, you'll want to call them again and inform them of this before you arrive.


Look up COVID regulations in advance:

This applies to all travel these days, but especially when traveling abroad. Make sure to look up whether you’ll need to download and sign any specific documents and/or take a COVID test prior to your travels. When I was in France in December, I also had to download a COVID vaccination passport app on my phone and get it authorized at any local pharmacy in order to enter any establishment. However, health guidelines are constantly changing, so make sure you check the government’s website of the country you will be traveling to in advance of your trip. Then, check again for any updates in the days leading up to your flight.


Leave some room for souvenirs!

I always forget to do this, but make sure to leave a little extra room in your luggage for any new souvenirs you might acquire during your travels. And if the souvenir is simply too big for your luggage but you simply must have it, consider asking the store if they will ship it to the U.S. (but don’t forget about the international shipping costs). If you’re the kind of person who prefers a magnet, a postcard, or nothing more than a few photos and some wonderful memories, then feel free to pack your luggage to its full capacity!



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Written by Jessie Cannizzaro





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