Depending on your company and industry, you may be asked to travel for work. Just like with any trip, it's important to prepare before you travel. In this article, we provide 17 tips to ensure that your next business trip, whether domestic or international, is a success.
What are the common reasons for a business trip?
A business trip is any amount of travel where you represent your company. Depending on the trip and its purpose, you could travel to the next county or the next continent.
There are several reasons why you might be asked to travel for work. Here are a few of the most common reasons for a business trip:
- Sales meetings
- Client trips
Why is preparing for a business trip important?
Preparing for your business trip allows you to travel safely, make a great impression on your colleagues and helps you accomplish the goals of your trip. Having all the necessary work tools at hand means you can easily accommodate any unexpected tasks that might arise during your trip, such as client requests for information.
12 tips for making your domestic business trip successful
Here are 12 tips that can help make sure your next domestic business trip is a success:
1. Pack the essentials
Be sure to bring enough clothes to cover your entire trip, and pack items that are both comfortable and appropriate for the event(s) you're attending. Bring clothes that match the dress code or company culture, or the country if you’re traveling abroad.
Though you may travel primarily for work, you might spend some time outside of the office during your stay. You may need to pack items or clothing for specific activities, such as:
- Travel clothing
- Comfortable footwear
- An outfit to exercise in
Formal clothing for a special dinner or event
Aside from your clothing and toiletries, remember to pack your electronic devices and any chargers or adapters that you might need.
2. Check the local weather
Regardless of the time of year, it's always wise to check the forecast before you leave on your business trip so that you can pack appropriately and anticipate inclement weather that could affect your travel plans. Consider packing layers with unexpected weather patterns in mind. That way, if the weather fluctuates during the day and into the night, you can adjust your outfit to be most comfortable at all times. Some other items you may need to pack are:
- Waterproof or rain boots
- Thick socks
- Breathable/light clothing
3. Make travel arrangements in advance
Whether you are traveling by air, boat, car or rail, you should make your reservations well in advance. This ensures you’ll lock in the best pricing but also gives you top picks as to your accommodations. Being able to stay at a hotel that’s walking distance to your meeting or conference is reason enough to make those reservations early.
4. Load important addresses into your phone ahead of time
You can make sure you have all of the correct information by saving the important addresses into your phone's GPS before you reach your destination. This small step could help you make it to the right destination on time.
5. Plan your hotel check-in for an early or overnight flight
Some hotels have earlier check-ins, but most require guests to arrive after 2 p.m. If you have an overnight or an early flight, book your hotel for the night before you arrive. That way, when you reach your hotel, you can check in right away and rest.
6. Create an itinerary
An itinerary allows you to anticipate every aspect of your business trip. If you're traveling in a group, it can also be useful to create a cloud-based itinerary that can then be shared with your colleagues.
7. Prepare for your meeting or event
Depending on the purpose of your trip, you may be giving a presentation at a conference or meeting, attending a conference or training, securing a sales contract or reaching another important business goal. Be sure to research key details, such as:
- People you are meeting with
- Places you are visiting
- The dress code
- Special considerations about the meeting place, such as protective gear for a construction site
The equipment you’ll need if you’re giving a presentation
8. Print materials ahead of time
It's a good idea to have all of your materials printed or at least have a plan in place for finding a printer before you arrive. Consider using cloud-based storage for documents that may need to be updated while you travel. Each of these options helps you ensure that you're prepared with any documents you may need to give those you're meeting with or have hard copies of important notes.
Related: A Guide To Business Etiquette
9. Prepare for the unexpected
Travel delays and meeting cancellations happen so it’s important to start your trip with a positive attitude and a flexible schedule. The more you can learn about your destination, the easier it will be to reschedule meetings or find a new hotel if the need arises.
10. Track your purchases
When traveling for work, you may use a company card to cover travel expenses, or your company could ask you to pay for items yourself and track your spending so that you can get reimbursed when you return. It's important to keep track of everything you buy and keep all of your receipts. It's also important to take pictures of your receipts so that, if you lose one, you can ensure that you get fully reimbursed afterward.
11. Get enough sleep
You are taking a trip for work, so it's important that you remain alert, focused and professional. If you can, plan your meetings for after you have had a chance to rest. This is especially important if you are traveling internationally, experiencing a significant time change or traveling overnight. If you do have a meeting directly after your flight lands, it's helpful to pack earplugs or headphones, an eye mask and a neck pillow to ensure you're able to rest during the flight.
12. Schedule time to relax
Work may be your focus on a business trip, but you need to find time to relax. Consider visiting a spa during your stay or ask if the hotel has an exercise room.
Giving yourself extra time to have a little fun is also advisable. Even if you can only stay for one extra day, having a chance to see the sights and decompress before heading home will make a big difference. Just keep in mind that you will likely need to cover the costs for this added day without reimbursement from the company.
5 additional tips for international travel
In addition to the above advice, the following five tips will help you prepare for an international business trip:
1. Secure an international phone plan
Make sure you are aware of the restrictions and roaming charges of your phone and data plan before a business trip so that you can make sure you can keep your phone bill manageable and affordable while you are away. You can usually use your current phone with an additional international fee from your cell phone carrier, or you can rely on Wi-Fi-based communication during international business travels.
2. Study the visa requirements
When traveling internationally for work, some countries require that you have a work visa so that you can conduct business while visiting. When you arrive in a new country, you must go through customs, where you are asked to present the proper documentation before they allow you entry. Each country has its own rules and regulations, so it's extremely important that you check the visa requirements for the country you are flying to as well as any places you are flying through so you can prepare the necessary paperwork beforehand.
3. Learn basic language skills
When traveling to another country, it's a good idea to study basic phrases in the native language and common slang words so that you can communicate with the locals, find assistance and conduct yourself appropriately. Some common phrases that can help you in basic situations include:
- Where is the bathroom?
- Do you speak English?
- I don't speak [language].
- Can you help me?
- Thank you.
4. Study local customs
Every country has its own customs and a set of acceptable or polite behaviors. Before traveling for business, look up the local etiquette, important customs that you should participate in and things to avoid during your stay. For example, in some cultures, it's customary to bring a gift to a new client meeting.
5. Safely stow your passport
To avoid losing or misplacing your passport, it's a good idea to keep your passport and any other valuables safely in your hotel room during your trip. Some other items you should keep secure are:
- Valuable jewelry
- Spare cash
- Extra credit cards