Business travel can be intimidating if you’ve never taken a trip on the company dime. It’s a different experience than a personal vacation, but if done right, it can be every bit as rewarding. There are a few common pitfalls to avoid as well as some unexpected benefits to take advantage of if you’re prepared. Let’s take a look at a few business travel tips that will make you look like the pro that you are.
Get out the company handbook.
Remember that company handbook they gave you your first day on the job? It’s time to review it, or in some cases, look at it for the first time. It should include business travel guidelines, including behavior expectations, expense guidelines, and any corporate deals or memberships you can use to save money. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines, and if there’s no business travel section in the handbook, don’t be ashamed to ask a human resources representative. They will be happy to help and will set you up for business travel success.
Rent a car instead of relying on ridesharing services.
Renting a car is a convenient and affordable option for business travelers, and the cost is often covered by your employer. Relying on ridesharing services and public transportation is a risky proposition if you’re on a tight schedule. Having a personal car is a safe and reliable way to ensure you’re always on schedule. Research the parking situation near your hotel and meeting venues before you leave. It will save you time and money. As always, talk to your HR reps about your employers’ rental car policy if you’re unsure. If you’re ready to book, you can find a rental car with our free reservation tool.
Make a detailed itinerary.
Once you’ve booked the essentials, it’s time to start thinking about the business at hand. After all, this trip is about developing relationships with clients, making an impression on potential clients, or developing as a professional.
Set reminders on your phone, fill out a calendar, write your schedule on paper; whatever it takes to get your meeting schedule solidified in your mind. Being late to a meeting or missing an engagement altogether are quick ways to ensure this is your first and last business trip. OK, now relax. You got this.
Don’t bring your entire wardrobe.
This isn’t a typical vacation. Most business trips are 2-3 days long. You won’t need multiple clothing options for each day. Bring your best professional outfit, a couple of options for business casual outfits, workout gear, and a personal choice. If you can’t fit everything into a carry-on suitcase, you’re packing too many clothes. Remember to look at the forecast for your destination before you go. You don’t want to be caught in the rain or snow without appropriate clothing.
It’s OK to have fun, but don’t get too carried away.
You know work is the first priority, but that doesn’t mean you have to hole up in your room when you’re not in meetings. Whether it’s branching out on your own to experience the city, or hitting the town with colleagues, there are plenty of tasteful ways to have fun on this trip. Just be sure to not get carried away. Don’t be the last person back to the hotel, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep to be at your best the next day.
If you’re prepared, you can use this opportunity to grow personally and professionally. We hope these business travel tips help you get the most out of your first business trip. For those of you who have business travel experience, what would you tell a first-timer? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Written by: Kody Pedersen