How to Plan Your Business Travel

Planning a work-related trip can be a stressful endeavor. On top of your usual travel concerns, you also have to keep your mind focused on the business aspect of your trip. Business travel doesn’t have to be stressful, though. With a little planning and preparation, you can help ensure your trip runs as smoothly as possible so you can stay focused on your work.

Steps

Part 1 Part 1 of 3:Making Travel Arrangements Download Article

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Find out if you’ll need any special accommodations. Depending on where you’re traveling to, you may need to make certain accommodations for yourself. This is usually more important for international travel, but it may be relevant for domestic travel as well.

  • If you’re traveling internationally, you may need to secure a visa before you leave. You may also need certain vaccinations, including anti-malarial medication.
  • If traveling to a city at an elevation above 4,900 feet (1,500 meters), you may be susceptible to elevation sickness. Try to give yourself a few days to acclimate before doing anything strenuous and start drinking two to three liters of water each day to stay hydrated.
  • If you’re traveling outside the country, find out if you can safely drink the tap water where you’ll be. If not, you’ll need to stick to bottled, purified water to stay healthy.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Put together an itinerary. Having an itinerary is the easiest way to ensure that you remain on schedule and don’t forget any important tasks on your trip. Knowing where to go and what to do, as well as what time everything needs to happen by, will help streamline your travel plans from start to finish.

  • Start with the date and time you’re checking into and out of your hotel, then work your way through everything that you’ll be doing while you’re away on business.
  • Don’t forget to keep track of your flight’s boarding and departure times so you know when you need to arrive at the airport.
  • Highlight any work-related events on your schedule. That way your most important priorities won’t get lost in the shuffle.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Make reservations for hotels, flights, and anything else that requires booking. Look online to find the best deals for flights and hotels. Some websites, such as Expedia, will allow you to book flights, hotels, and rental cars all in the same place.

  • When booking your flight, make sure that you use your sky miles account so that you can get points and rewards. You might even have enough sky miles already to cover the cost of your flight!
  • When booking your hotel, see if you can use sky miles or get points towards a rewards program. You should also make note of your hotel’s policies on check-in, checkout, parking, and number of people per room.
  • If you need a rental car, make sure that all the roads you’ll be driving will be safe with your rental car. Research if you need two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Look around with different rental car companies to see which has the best rate.
  • Some credit cards also have rewards plans and perks for traveling. See if your credit card comes with any of these benefits.

Part 2 Part 2 of 3:Preparing for Your Trip Download Article

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Check that your ID/passport is up-to-date. You may not need a passport if you’re traveling domestically for business, but you will need one for international flights. Even on domestic flights, you’ll need a valid, state-issued ID. Failure to have the proper identification can delay or even prevent your trip altogether.

  • Make sure that all your identification is valid and up-to-date well in advance, as it can take several weeks for new documents to be prepared.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Determine how you’ll receive your ticket. If you’re receiving your ticket digitally (like on your smartphone, for example), you won’t have to worry about printing or losing a ticket. If not, you’ll need to get to the airport a little early to print your ticket. Even with self-service kiosks, the lines for printing out tickets do get backed up from time to time.

  • Give yourself at least an extra 15 to 20 minutes if you’ll need to print out your ticket upon arrival at the airport.
  • If you have a paper ticket, keep it someplace where you won’t lose it. You may want to store it with your ID or passport to ensure that you don’t misplace any of those documents.
  • If you’re using a digital ticket, make sure you’ll have reception wherever you’re flying out of for the return trip. If you can’t pull it up on your phone, you’ll likely need to print out a paper copy at the airport.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Try to avoid checking any bags. Checked bags can get lost or misplaced. Whether you’re on a tight schedule or simply don’t want to worry about finding a suit store before your big meeting, it’s best to stick with carry-on items only.

  • Try to pack as light as possible. Bring enough dress clothes for the trip and one or two pairs of casual clothes for exploring the town.
  • Confirm that your bag will fit in the overhead compartment or under your seat by checking the carry-on bag size restrictions with your chosen airline.
  • Check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for any updates on prohibited items and packing suggestions to ensure your security check is as quick as possible.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Learn about any relevant customs and culture. Whether you’re traveling abroad or meeting with representatives from another nation, it’s important to remember that different cultures have different values and customs. Saying or doing certain things that you find acceptable, or failing to say/do certain things, can be a sign of great disrespect in some cultures.

  • Read up on the culture and customs of the people you’ll be doing business with.
  • Talk to other colleagues or friends who have traveled to the country you’ll be doing business in. This can help you get a better sense of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
  • Be respectful at all times. Remember that you’re representing your business and possibly your culture, so you’ll need to be on your best behavior at all times.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Back up all your important information. Thanks to current technology, most of us rely pretty heavily on our smartphones and digital devices. However, depending on where you are traveling, you may not have phone or internet reception readily available. If you’re relying on your digital devices for your itinerary, plane ticket, presentation, or paperwork, you may be out of luck if you’re in a dead zone.

  • Keep a backup copy of all your important information on your laptop or a USB flash drive.
  • If you really want to cover all your bases, you can also print out hard copies of any important paperwork and keep those papers in a file with your travel documents.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Start sleeping on the local time before your trip. Jet lag is an obstacle most business travelers have had to overcome at some point or another. It can take several days to adjust to any time change, even domestically. If you’re traveling across time zones, you may want to start acclimating before your trip.

  • If possible, give yourself a few days before you leave and start going to sleep and waking up at the times you will be waking/sleeping once you reach your destination.
  • Being aware of the time difference has professional implications as well. You’ll need to ensure that you don’t miss any important meetings or deadlines on your trip.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Anticipate security precautions at the airport. Sometimes airport security lines can take a very long time. Arrive at the airport early: airlines usually recommend two hours before your flight for domestic flights and three hours before for international flights. Look into getting TSA Pre-Check or CLEAR, pre-approved security programs that can help you get through the lines faster.

Part 3 Part 3 of 3:Taking Precautions to Avoid Jet Lag Download Article

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Stay hydrated. Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue. When you travel by plane, you’re usually exposed to dry, recycled air, and you may be over-caffeinated as well. Try to drink as much water as possible before, during, and after your flight to minimize the risk of dehydration.

  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption, as both of these can leave you slightly dehydrated.
  • Try to drink two to three liters of water each day, but remember that you’ll need more water if you’re very active or in a hot environment.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Plan your first evening wisely. How you spend your first night at your destination can affect your entire trip. The quicker you acclimate to the local time and get a good night’s sleep, the smoother your plans will go.

  • Aim to arrive around dinner time, then plan to stay up until about 10:00 pm in local time.
  • When you get to your destination, avoid heavy meals. Instead, choose healthy snacks or a light meal that won’t weigh you down.
  • You will most likely be tired after traveling, so by getting in around dinner time and eating a light meal, you’ll start to get sleepy in time for a regular night’s rest.

How to Plan Your Business Travel

Try to get a good night’s rest. Staying on a normal sleep schedule can be difficult when you travel, especially if you cross time zones. If you can get a regular night’s sleep the first night, though, there’s a good chance you’ll adjust quickly.

  • Limit your exposure to bright screens, like laptops and cellphones, for at least a half hour before bed. Bright lights can reset your circadian rhythm, making it harder to sleep.
  • Get as much sunlight as you can in the morning and early afternoon. This will help you remain wakeful and energetic during the day.
  • Try to get some light to vigorous exercise each day, but be aware of when you work out. Some people find that exercising too close to bedtime affects their ability to sleep.
  • Bring earplugs and a sleep mask to help ensure that you get restful sleep each night, no matter what kinds of distractions present themselves at your hotel.

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