Business travel is no joke. From stressful security lines to exhausting bouts of jet lag, trips of any length can take their toll on even the most experienced traveler. And while technology has come a long way in easing some of the pain, there are some things your smartphone just can’t solve.
On the plus side, business travel has a myriad of benefits. Done right, it can be an exciting and productive way to spend a few days. You’ll have a chance to show off your skills, meet important clients, and gain a deeper understanding of the environment in which they operate. You might even get to indulge in a little sightseeing and enjoy local culture while you’re at it. And getting away from the office could give you a fresh perspective on old issues. You can have an amazing time on the road – it just takes a little preparation.
How to kick your business travel up a notch
1. Make your health a priority
You want to put your best foot forward when you face clients on their turf – but that’s not going to happen if you’re keeping late hours or stressing out over an upcoming presentation. Being ready, both mentally and physically, is the first and most important step to a successful trip. “When you hold your body as partner, and decide to take exceptionally good care of yourself, you'll more intuitively know what to eat and when, as well as when to workout or move, and how,” says Anese Cavanaugh in an article on healthy business travel for Inc.
Before you leave for your trip, make a schedule that includes plenty of time for sleep. Use apps like Yelp or Google Maps to find healthy restaurants or grocery stores close to where you’ll be staying. Stopping by the local market for snack bars, trail mix, and fresh fruit can help you resist the urge to grab a candy bar in the hotel lobby.
Use the same tools to look for a gym, or map the safest running trails to keep your fitness routine intact. Some hotels even offer bikes to use during your stay, which provides a great way to see the neighborhood and also get a workout in. Sticking to the healthy habits you’ve made at home even while you're traveling for business will help you look, feel, and perform at your best.
2. Be prepared for anything
Even the best-laid plans can change in a moment when you’re on unfamiliar turf. Flight delays, bad weather, and miscommunication can cost time, money, and peace of mind. A backup plan can save the day. “Like a Boy Scout, a business traveler has to be ready for anything, anytime,” says H.O. Maycotte, CEO of Umbel. “Whether I have to head straight to the airport from the office, or straight to a presentation from the airport (or both), I have everything I need.”
Planning ahead can turn the unexpected into an adventure. Stay prepared with chargers for your electronics, cash, and a map of the city you’re traveling in. And make sure that important documents are backed up in the cloud so that if you lose your laptop, you’ll still be able to access your presentation in a pinch.
Remember that Concur makes it a no-brainer to hold meetings at Starbucks and order an Uber – with automated expense reporting that sends your receipts directly into your account in the cloud with zero effort from you!
3. Learn the rules – and how to bend them
The days of traditional accommodations, transportation, and dining in are over. Services like AirBnB, Orbitz, and Groupon can all help you find the best places to stay, shop, and eat – while staying within or below your business travel budget. Even the way you book your flight matters, say travel experts in an article for Entrepreneur. You don’t have to stick with the same rules you’ve played by in the past to get just as good – or better – results.
Make your next business trip the best one yet
By making the right preparations, business travel can be more rewarding than ever. Look after yourself first, then figure out the rest. Research where you’re going, plan ahead, and use smart technology to handle the details.
Whatever you do, have fun out there!