Preparing for a trip for leisure is a process which can put unnecessary amounts of pressure on a person. When travelling for business however, things can intensify further- especially if the stakes happen to be particularly high!
Depending on your area of employment and the role you play within the organisation you work for, business trips may be something you’re already very used to. Alternatively, they may be the very embodiment of ‘out of the ordinary’.
The nature of a business trip tends to vary according to an entire range of variables. Thankfully, the aim of this article is not to divulge into this bog-land, but to pinpoint ways to ensure that your next business trip goes off without a single hitch.
#1 Plan to the Very Last Detail
Some people are fortunate enough to be so organised that they can skip straight to point #2. I’d like to think I am one of those people, at least when taking trips for pleasure…
Planning everything that’s going to go down during your time away, both with you out on the road back at the workplace, is a sure-way to seeing things run smoothly. Knowing where you’re going to be at all times and who with will mean your head is incapable of being anywhere but in the game. And I'm not just referring to travel arrangements and timing, I'm talking about the individuals you will be meeting with, their standing within the affairs being discussed (as well as your own), and the strategy you intend to adopt in order to wind up leaving each meet having gained and not lost.
#2 Pack Wisely
Some people are good at packing appropriately, others are awful. This is one of just a handful of things I’m absolutely sure of in this life.
When you’re heading out on business, your priority should be with packing items that are essential. Sure, if you’re going somewhere famed for its sunny weather, pack the swimsuit just in case, but by prioritising such items it’s only more likely that you will forgot something vital. Oh and pack light, it’ll save you money on baggage if flying and make for a far less stressful commute from terminal-hotel-office-restaurant-office-hotel-bar-bed…you get the message.
Another tip would be to ensure that you pack as much relevant reading material as possible for absorbtion on your journey. Whether this is in the form of notes taken from the meeting or brief you had prior to leaving the office, or research documents detailing relevant info on the company(s) you are off to meet, it can be extremely helpful.
#3 Travel Wisely
Not always possible if you’re travelling at a moment’s notice, but absolutely necessary if you have the time. Travelling wisely in this context suggests putting forward the effort necessary to cut the excess costs and stresses involved with travelling. Regardless of whether or not it can all be put onto the expenses account (we should all be so lucky!), think economically and you may just learn a thing or two!
Returning to the previous point of 'packing wisely', thinking along the lines of 'bare essentials only' will not only see you travelling in more comfort, but less likely to leave anything behind. A simple check-list for a 3-4 day trip would be as follows:
- Clothing for each occasion anticipated (meetings, dinners, round of golf, whatever!)
- Clothing for travel
- ID/Passport/Bank Cards/National Insurance...so basically your wallet
- Cash in local currency
- Small inclusive file containing all necessary documents for business
- Pen and paper
- Phone and charger
- A change of shoes
- Travel literature
- Personal business cards
- Travel tickets
#4 Download a Destination Appropriate App
Not something I’d always advise, given the ability that I’ve found technology to have in sucking the more immersive and humanistic aspects out of travelling, though certainly a no-brainer on a business trip. Seeking the help of an app can not only be advantageous in the planning stages, but can also help to build excitement, anticipation and general good vibes as the date approaches. Apps I’ve found to be helpful include the Trip Advisor ‘City Guides’ series, Google Earth, as well as AA Route Planner, and for those travelling by air- FlightTrack.
#5 Project Eminence
From the way you look and the way you act in meetings/at dinners to the nature with which you address hotel staff, eminence is a winning approach. As the line in American Beauty goes ‘in order to be successful, one must project the image of success at all times’, and while poor Lester’s wife may be a bit mad, she kind of has a point. If you haven’t seen that movie- don’t disregard this advice, just watch it.
Whether you opt to view business trips as an unfortunate necessity or a welcome break from typical working life, there should be few differences in the way you choose to approach them. At the end of the day, whether a trip is ‘successful’ or not depends on the conclusion of the meetings you are journeying to attend, not the journey itself. Though it’s undeniable that having a pleasant trip will put you in good stead to succeed!