As the business world becomes increasingly globalised, it is extremely likely that you will have to go on business trips at some point in your career, if you don't already. Aside from having to plan and prepare for meetings once you reach your destination, packing and planning for the trip can seem like a job in itself. Read on for 10 tips to make the process easier:
Knowing in advance what you will pack will streamline the process and help you get ready faster, especially if you travel for business on a regular basis. In choosing your clothes, stick with the basics that can go with just about anything. Try to bring clothing that is versatile and suitable for both meetings and dinners out. It can also help to keep some essential items already packed and ready to go, like toiletries, pyjamas, and underwear. This will give you a few less things to remember when packing.
Whenever possible, try to stick with one or two airlines or hotel chains, and make sure that you are a member of their loyalty programs. The less you spread out your loyalty, the faster you will build up rewards, which you can then use for a vacation with your family or to purchase room or flight upgrades. Many airlines offer credit cards with which you can earn points for regular purchases while you are travelling, like meals, souvenirs, and other expenses. Try to find a card that does not charge international conversion fees to save money. Achieving elite or preferred status can open you up to a variety of perks to make your journey more comfortable and convenient, like luxurious airport lounges or free Wi-Fi in your hotel room.
As hard as it might be, try to get to sleep at as normal a time as possible when you reach your destination. Sometimes, this might mean staying up all day when you are exhausted, and others going to sleep when you are not tired at all. However, the more quickly you get on an appropriate sleep schedule at your destination, the better you will feel. Remember, caffeine and melatonin are your friends; alcohol is not.
Particularly when you are travelling frequently, it can be difficult to remember hotel names and room numbers, flight times, and other important details. Bring a folder with all the relevant information, or create a note for your trip in your smartphone or tablet. Make sure to list customer service numbers for airlines, car hire companies, credit cards etc. in case something goes wrong. The more you travel, the more likely you are to encounter complications, and being prepared can save you a lot of hassle and stress.
When you are travelling frequently, it's amazing how quickly the time spent on layovers can add up. Try to book non-stop flights if you can. Many travellers do not understand the distinction between direct and non-stop flights, but it is an important one. With a direct flight, you will still have a layover; you simply won't have to get off the plane to switch to another one. Don't fall into this trap when booking your flight.
You'll never know if there is an upgrade available unless you ask, and the worst that can happen is that they say no. If possible, try to ask at a time when the agent is not busy to maximise your chances of getting approved. Always be polite, and you will often be rewarded. Particularly if you are a regular customer, your chances will be greatly improved.
Be sure to charge all of your electronics before you leave. This includes your phone, tablet, laptop and any other essentials you are bringing with you. Check the type of electrical outlets in your destination, and buy your converter before you leave. You don't want to be scrambling to purchase one when you reach your destination and your phone is flat. Better yet, choose a universal adapter that works for a wide variety of plug types. This will save you time and money for future trips.
It is amazing how much better service personnel will treat you if you are dressed well while travelling. Perhaps it helps because you look the part, but dressing nicely can often score you upgrades without you even having to ask. Even if you don't get an upgrade, you will often still be treated with more respect and courtesy than if you were wearing grungy old sweatpants.
While noise-cancelling headphones are great, they are also quite costly and very bulky. To save money and valuable packing space, buy small rubber or foam earplugs instead. They still get the job done, but they also cost a lot less and take up virtually no space. Even better, it is easier to sleep while wearing them since they don't interfere with the sides of your head. The low cost also makes them easy to replace if they get lost or dirty.
No matter which country you are travelling to, be sure to do a bit of research before you depart. Aim to find out things like whether your preferred credit cards are widely accepted, if you should tip service personnel, and how to best travel to your hotel from the airport. You should also research the business culture in your destination. In many countries, they do not conduct business in the same manner as they do in Australia, so learning about a locale's business customs can go a long way towards endearing you to your prospective business partners.
Business travel can be stressful at times, but the tips listed here should help you to minimise your stress so that you can focus on the purpose of your trip - to further your business goals.