So much of today’s work can be done remotely, but occasionally, you need to travel for business purposes. If you’ve never done this before, it can be confusing to navigate everything from what to pack to planning your itinerary.
When you’re heading to a designated meeting, it’s a little easier. Your employer should fill in many of the gaps, like where you’re staying and how you’re getting there.
But there are a few tips frequent navigators have learned over the years that make it much easier for first-time business travelers. Follow these suggestions and your trip will be more enjoyable from start to finish.
1. Make a Packing List
Having a strategy for what you need to pack and streamlining it into a list truly does make a huge difference.
If you’re traveling by anything but planes, you have more leeway. But when you’re flying, you’ll have to decide if you want to limit your packing to a carry-on only and save time waiting for your luggage at the airport.
Once you decide that, next, break down what you need by category, such as:
- Toiletry essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.), remembering to keep everything under 3.4 oz if you’re carrying anything on the plane
- Work attire, including an outfit for every business meeting on your itinerary
- Casual outfits, underwear, and nighttime clothes as necessary
- Electronics, chargers, and cords
In each category, write down everything you need to pack. Then, start putting it all together. To keep your luggage minimized, consider investing in a travel toiletry kit and vacuum seal storage bags for your clothes.
2. Plan for Delays
Part of the stress of a tight itinerary is the damage to your schedule if you’re delayed. Here’s the truth, though: Chances are, something is probably going to cause you to run behind.
Your toddler spills something on your outfit at the last second. A car accident backed up traffic for an hour. Plane delays made you miss your connection.
There is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent accidents from happening. What you can do, though, is make sure you buffeted your schedule to include room for delays.
This may mean making travel plans to arrive a day earlier than you need to be there or leaving a couple of hours before you normally would. Have a backup plan in case of a missed connection due to a delayed flight.
If everything runs perfectly, great! You have some extra time to unwind before you have to get to work. But if there’s something that throws you off schedule, you still have to deal with the headache, but you can do it without urgency.
3. Have an Emergency Kit
When it comes to your health, it’s better to be over-prepared anytime you’re away from home. Buying medicine from an airport, hotel, or gas station is expensive, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be open or have what you need.
Think about the normal maladies you have and what could happen on your trip.
Backache? Headache? Stomach issues? Pack your go-to pain reliever and digestive aid.
Allergies? Don’t forget your eye drops and allergy meds. (Benadryl works well but also puts most people to sleep, so if you’re not sure what to get, leave this one out.)
Just in case your hotel room isn’t soundproofed, or you’d like to get in a quick nap on the plane, pack earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. A blackout sleeping mask is a good idea, too.
Throw in some band-aids, gauze, alcohol swabs, and antibiotic cream, and you’re ready for almost anything!
4. Get to Know Where You’re Going
The culture of an area may not be what you’re used to, especially if you’re traveling abroad. Before you head out, skim the internet, so you know what to expect.
Look for the main factors, such as what language is primary and what currency they use. You may have to download an app like Google Translate or swap some money at the bank or airport. It’s better to know these crucial things in advance.
Domestic travel needs research, too. What is the climate of the region you’re heading to? What kind of clothes and shoes should you pack? Will you be sweating or freezing?
Wherever you’re staying, get to know the area around your lodging prior to arriving. This will save you lots of time and stress looking for places to eat, pharmacies, and grocery stores. You’ll also have an idea of things you’d like to do with planned or unexpected downtime.
The more aware you are of where you’re going and what’s around, the easier it will be to pack and plan.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Type A personality who needs to be in control of every detail, or you’re laid back and go-with-the-flow. Traveling for business purposes is fundamentally the same for everyone.
The difference is in how well you’re prepared for the basics, and this list takes care of the must-haves, so you can focus on the reason you’re on the trip.