You’re a pro. You use travel apps we haven’t even heard of to get the best deals on flights and hotel rooms. You are platinum diamond elite listed everywhere. But still, you feel like there is more you could do to maximize your next business trip (and manage to come home refreshed). Here are 10 things the savvy business traveler should do for every trip.
1. Pack Smart
There are so many reasons to fit everything you need into one carry-on You’ll breeze through security and you don’t have to wait around at the baggage claim. Make sure you’re bringing only what you need and that you’ve packed it well. Even if you check luggage, you should have a change of clothes and a toothbrush right at hand (just in case).
2. Mail Ahead
With the outrageous checked luggage fees that airlines are charging these days, it no longer makes sense to pack an extra bag filled with sales brochures or whatever schwag you might need for the trade show. Instead, entrust those items to FedEx or UPS and have them sent directly to your hotel. Be sure to tell the hotel to expect the box and have your date of arrival included on the outside label.
3. Manage Your Information
Your business trip paperwork includes at least the following: travel tickets, travel itinerary, hotel information, transfers, and meeting itinerary. You might also have a batch of contact information to manage for prospects and coworkers who are on the trip with you. Do yourself a favor and consolidate all that information in one email-specific folder or use an app like Evernote which syncs with your computer and your phone.
Business travel can wreak havoc on your fitness routine and eating habits. Don’t let it. Whether you use the hotel gym or just go for a twenty minute walk or jog, exercise is a great way to clear your head and to make sure those meals out don’t stick with you for the long term.
5. Use Your Time Wisely
Consider your flight part of your business day. Use that time to read up on new innovations in your field or, when you are free to use your electrical devices, write that report you haven’t had time for or proofread your presentation. Even if you don’t have Internet while in the air, you can always draft emails and have them ready to send when you land.
6. Stay (Somewhat) Connected
Cell service and Wi-Fi are modern conveniences most of us take for granted these days. But between airports with pay-to-play Internet, airplanes where you’re completely disconnected, and international trips where roaming charges still abound, you need to plan ahead. Most of the cell and Internet connectivity information for your destination (and all points in between) can be found online. Make sure you have the right types of devices and that your cell plan has you covered.
Remember to unplug too. Set a schedule for when you are off the clock and…
7. Schedule Some “You” Time
You are an efficient business travel machine. The temptation is to make every second of your trip count. You can meet clients at any hour and still be at your best. Except that you’re human too. Give yourself the benefit of a recharge. Whether you take an hour in the evening to Skype with your kids or plug in the pay-per-view, make sure you get the rest and relaxation you have earned. You’ll be better off tomorrow for it.
8. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is as important as relaxation. Cat naps on the plane (in between emails) will help you stay bright and professional for your meetings. But the best thing you can do for yourself, no matter where you are in the world, is get a good night of sleep.
9. Bring Your Smile
Now that you have your needs taken care of, think about the people around you. It’s easy to feel harried and frazzled and all kinds of other unpleasant adjectives when you’re away from your routine. Remember that every person you meet presents an opportunity to build a relationship. Being pleasant with your client is a given, but saying please or thank you to flight attendants, waiters, and hotel staff will brighten their day (and they’ll do their best to return the favor).
10. Consolidate Your Receipts
If you’ve left thinking about your expense report until the trip home, you might be in real trouble. Try an app like ExpenseMagic where you can take a photo of your receipts and someone on the other end creates the expense report for you. Some fees apply, but remember that your time is worth money (and by getting reimbursed for all your expenses, not just the ones you have receipts for, the app might just pay for itself).
What business travel tips do you swear by? Share them in the comments and we swear we won’t reveal them to your competition.