Tips and tricks for business travel

Hey y’all, thanks so much for stopping by!

Today I’m sharing some tips and tricks I’ve learned from traveling for work.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit some amazing places around the world for my job. If you’ve ever traveled for work, you know it can be a great experience personally and professionally.

It can also be super stressful and exhausting!

Whether you have business travel or a vacation coming up, I hope this post will help you enjoy your trip, be productive and maybe avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made!

(Photo: Costa Rica for a Spanish immersion program)

Plan ahead

If you’re flying, some of the best advice I can give is to use your airline’s mobile app to check in for your flight (usually available 24 hours before your scheduled departure) and use the mobile boarding pass on your phone. It will save you so much time and stress by not having to check in at the airport, even if you have to stop at the desk to check a bag. It’s also way more convenient than having to keep track of a paper boarding pass, and usually it will show you where your seat is and let you change it, if you’d like.

You’ll also get real-time notifications of changes to your flight. I’ve found that in many cases, the mobile app will notify you of things like gate changes even before they announce it at the airport. Some airlines’ apps also let you track your incoming plane, to know if there are any potential delays and also where it’s coming from, which I think is really cool.

But (and this is very important) make sure you are familiar with the app and comfortable using it *before* you get to the airport. For example, you should know how to quickly access your boarding pass without having to swipe through multiple screens. Otherwise, it can be a nightmare for you and everyone around you. (Hello, talking to you lady whose phone just died while trying to access her boarding pass at the gate…)

If you’re traveling internationally, check your passport in advance to make sure it’s still valid. It may seem like a no-brainer, but it happens to the best of us.

Also know what type of currency is accepted in the country where you are traveling and go to your bank to exchange money if you need to. In my experience, banks usually charge way less in fees (if any) than the currency exchanges do at the airport.

I always seem to eat so badly when I travel for business – potato chips for breakfast, lunch at 3 p.m. and maybe I don’t even eat dinner. It helps so much to plan your meals in advance. Maybe that means buying a meal at the airport, so you can eat it later on the plane. I also like to bring snacks from home, like these protein bars, which is way cheaper than buying them at the airport. Otherwise, I might not eat real food all day. It is so important to eat well and stay hydrated when you travel, especially for work.

Also be sure to check the weather forecast for your destination, so you know what clothes and shoes to pack. Again, it seems like a no brainer. But it’s hard to remember to pack a hat and gloves when it’s still 100 degrees at home!

(Photo: Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, Spain for a global seminar)

Pack smart

I learned very quickly that I have to pack things in the same place every time for every trip. Otherwise, I’ll forget to pack something or end up digging forever through my bag to find a particular item.

It also helps to pack your frequently-used items somewhere you can access them quickly. I keep my corporate card in a zippered sleeve in the front of my backpack, and my headphones in a pouch at the top, so I can grab them easily whether I’m on a plane, in a taxi or even walking down the street. Of course, be mindful to keep important items safely secured. But you don’t want to be THAT girl frantically looking for her credit card at the front of the line at Starbucks…

Another trick I learned is to wear your largest items (as opposed to packing them) because it frees up more space in your suitcase and makes it lighter and easier to manage. Just don’t be this guy! Bonus points for convenience because then I don’t have to dig for those items in my carry-on or change when I arrive at my destination.

(Photo: Boston for a conference)

Be prepared

I can’t say this enough. Always keep your phone fully charged! In fact, I highly recommend investing in a portable battery pack. You never know if you’ll have access to an outlet or charging station, and you should always have your phone in case of an emergency.

Maybe you’ve noticed food is very important to me… always have snacks on hand, both during your trip and after you arrive. Flights get delayed and meetings run long – you don’t want to be hangry when you’re meeting a client or trying to deliver a presentation. It’s also important to remember that in the country you’re traveling to, they might eat at different times than what you’re used to. You’ll definitely want to have a snack if you’re going to have to wait until 2 p.m. for lunch (looking at you, Europe!).

Keep your laptop and cellphone fully charged and know how to remotely access your company’s network and important files. You do not want IT problems to prevent you from participating in a last- minute video conference or sending urgent files to your boss!

Other lessons I’ve learned…

  • Buy duplicates of items that you commonly use while traveling, like a phone charger or medicine, and keep them in your backpack or suitcase even when you’re not traveling. I bought a pink iPhone charging cord like this one to help me quickly identify which one is mine, in case there are multiple chargers in the airport or a conference room.
  • Build extra time into your schedule to explore the place you’re visiting. If there is something in particular you want to see, let your hosts know. Most people really enjoy showing off their city to visitors. Don’t be afraid to explore solo either! Just be safe of course.
  • Always dress and act professionally when traveling for work. You never know who you might run into at the airport. Even if you’re not traveling with coworkers or clients, they may still be on your flight. You don’t want to be wearing yoga pants and no makeup if you happen to bump into your senior VP…
  • Save all of your receipts! You will need them for your expense report. If you use Concur, you can take photos of your receipts and upload them to your app.
  • Make the investment and apply for TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, if you’re going to be traveling internationally. Some companies will pay for this for their employees, so check with your travel department. Even if yours doesn’t, I highly recommend paying for it yourself. It’s worth every penny from the time you’ll save in the security line.

Finally, some of the most important advice I want to share is that it’s OK to say no to a business trip. We live in a world where technology can connect us instantly to anyone. Of course there is so much value in talking face-to-face, and some of my best professional growth has come from working in person with my colleagues in other offices. But none of us can perform our best if we feel stressed about being away from home, for whatever reason.

That’s all I have today. Thank you so much for reading! I would love to hear your tips and tricks for business travel, so please share them in the comments section. I still have so much to learn!

I would also love to hear other things you want to talk about, so please leave your ideas in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time,

Christi

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