Top 8 Business Traveler Tips
by Sue Reddel
If you're like me you're always scouring the Web for the latest tips on how to make the often unpleasant task of business travel just a bit easier. While no list is ever complete I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of the tips I've learned from experience, in no particular order:
1. You can never over-plan or over-research
Especially the first time to any destination. Having maps to everywhere you have a meeting, including a city map to confirm that where you're going is where Google Maps or MapQuest is sending you. How many times have you arrived exactly at the destination on the instructions only to find out it's not where you actually want to be. If you can identify local land marks near your destinations that helps guide you and your driver as well.
Be sure to check your adapters. Every country has its own specific needs. I was amazed on my last trip when the hotel actually had a strip in the wall with almost every plug you could possible use. I'm hoping that's a trend in the making.
2. Have all contact information in print and electronically
I don't know what your capabilities are once you leave your home country. I rarely leave on my data service on my smart phone. I use the cell phone for calls and texts but I have to rely on my laptop either at the hotel or anywhere else I can get wireless service. This is likely for you, as it is for me, often annoying because we've become so used to using our phones for everything from checking email to updating social media. So in the event that you need to contact a colleague it's best to have their information at your fingertips. Don't forget to take the numbers of folks at home too - the memory in my cell phone has been exchanged many times. I now have it hold my most used numbers and there are a very few essential numbers that I actually have memorized.
Also make sure you have your travel consultant's number, airline rewards and hotel or other loyalty program numbers just in case you need to change any travel plans unexpectedly.
3. Save all your presentations on your desktop, jump drive and in the cloud.
Ever get to a meeting only to find that something won't work, won't open, or a file's been corrupted? Yeah, me neither, but I'm frightened that it will happen some day so I'm super cautious with any material I may need to present. I always seem to have really large files so I keep the files on a jump drive (get a large capacity one), and in the cloud somewhere. YouSendIt works well for this and is free. Just be sure that the material there is available to you through your meeting date as well as on your laptop.
4. Leave more than enough time for everything.
Meetings always run long - period. So don't book your flight too early. In fact, if you can stay an extra night or day do it. Clients and associates will appreciate your willingness to be flexible and it can often lower the cost of your airfare. Spending more time and fitting in a lunch or dinner with someone you rarely see in person is extremely valuable.
5. Always take an extra pair of underwear
Sounds silly? Maybe. But that extra pair of underwear or extra shirt or tie might just make your life a whole lot easier if you need to stay an additional day or something gets spilled on you. Sometimes it's not that easy to find a 1-hour cleaners or run off and shop for something else to wear.
6. Always have a snack and water
It may just be me, but several times I have found myself in a situation when lunch wasn't going to happen or the day was going really long and I'm hungry. I'm not one of those people who look up after working for 10 hours and say, "Oh I forgot to eat." My system demands to be fed at regular intervals and I'm ok with that. So I carry a protein bar or similar snack in my briefcase or backpack at all times. I also carry a bottle of water for the same reason. Read one of my stories and tell me there hasn't been a time you wish you had a snack or water on hand.
6. Dress in layers
No one can truly predict the weather. Although we all do our best to plan ahead, you just never know what you're heading into. Try a jacket with a blouse or shirt that you don't mind wearing or being seen in if you need to take off your jacket. I usually wear a lightweight sweater as well as I'm typically cold on planes and in office buildings. Fabrics that aren't easy to wrinkle are best if you plan on sitting in a plane or at the airport for a long time. I'm also a fan of comfy yet fashionable shoes. Always a challenge, but it can be done.
7. Be safe
This kind of goes without saying but it's worth saying again. There are times when you're not sure of an area you may need to go. As a woman who often travels alone I can tell you it never hurts to ask. And, gentlemen, this means you too. Always check with the concierge if you don't know. The hotel will gladly send an escort with you to your room, or a staff member to call you a taxi. Anything to make sure you feel safe. My rule of thumb is if it doesn't feel right, don't do it. Don't park in a parking garage when you can valet park. Don't open your hotel door unless you are expecting someone. Don't give anyone your hotel room number.
Most importantly as you walk around a new place don't act like a tourist. Keep your maps in your purse or pocket. I recently had one of the best compliments by a gentleman who was soliciting money for Greenpeace on a busy street in London. He started to chat me up about the area when I told him I was just visiting he said wow you sure don't look like a tourist. Success! My black leather coat, black jeans, black sweater and black shoes, it seems, fit in anywhere from Paris to Beijing.
8. Stop and smell the local roses
You're in a city you've never been to before, take whatever time you have when you're not working to get out and walk around. Ask the concierge what's within walking or quick train distance. Even just a few hours wandering the new environs will refresh and renew you. It will also help you get a better night's sleep, which is often a problem for many business travelers. Stop along the way for a light lunch or dinner and try some of the local favorites. Whatever your passion is follow it on your short visit. Fine museums, architecture, gardens and shopping are sometimes just steps away from your hotel or office. I love the sightseeing double-decker buses that are available in most large cities. They are affordable and offer a quick way to see the whole city. Often just staying on a complete route will take you past all the highlights and a headset with running commentary can give you some great insights you might not otherwise discover. Most of the tours have off and on privileges so depending on how much time you have you can really make a day of it.
If you have any other tips you use please share we'd love to see them.
If you're looking for other tips on ways to make business travel a bit easier be sure to check out: