Americans go on over 400 million long-distance business trips annually.
If you’re in a profession that involves a lot of business travel, soon you’ll be a pro. But your first trip may be a little intimidating. After all, a business trip is very different from your normal vacation travel.
Preparing for a business trip takes more than just packing a suitcase. Keep reading to learn how to prepare for a business trip.
Yes, a business trip is much more than packing, but that doesn’t mean you can overlook properly packing.
We suggest packing everything you need in carry-on luggage. That way, you don’t run the risk of losing your luggage and ending up without your clothes and business materials. Most business trips aren’t that long, so you should be able to pack everything you need in a carry-on suitcase.
To ensure everything fits, make sure to roll your clothes instead of folding them. Also, place all of your toiletries or liquid items in sealed plastic bags. That way, if an item breaks or leaks, you won’t be rushing to find a laundromat.
Once you pack your carry-on with your clothes, toiletries, and shoes, you need to pack your personal bag. We suggest a suitcase to carry all your breakable technology and work-related paperwork. You can carry it on the plane with you and it’s professional enough to use when you attend your business meetings.
Plan for Work and Play
When deciding what clothes to bring for your business trip, remember that even the busiest of business trips involve some free time.
Figure out how many days you’ll have business obligations, such as meetings or conferences. That’s how many complete business outfits you’ll need.
But just because you have three days of meetings, doesn’t mean you need three pairs of pants and three separate business suits. Plan to pack versatile items that you can wear for multiple days. So you may have one nice pair of slacks and one blazer. Then you can change out the shirt or tie for each separate day, this saves you room when packing.
Plan to pack at least a few outfits for your free time. After a long day of business work, you’ll want to relax in clothing you feel comfortable in.
Also, bring one dressier outfit in case a client or boss invites you out to a fancy dinner or for drinks. You never know what situation you’ll end up with during business travel so it’s best to plan for every situation.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
Many people focus on packing and forget all about preparing mentally for the trip. When you’re on a business trip, your elevator pitch is very important.
You may end up with the chance to talk to a future employer or large client. You don’t want to clam up and stumble on your words!
Every good business person has multiple elevator pitches depending on the audience. Practice each one in front of the mirror or to a friend.
Along with your elevator pitch, make sure you pack a stack of fresh business cards as your follow-up. Getting caught in a conversation without your business card is a huge indicator that you’re new at business communication. Always keep a few in your wallet, suitcase, and pockets so you’re never caught empty-handed.
Find the Right Accommodations
When traveling, your accommodations can make or break any trip. Business travel doesn’t have to look like a run-down motel with a lumpy mattress. Booking comfortable accommodations means you’ll be well-rested and prepared for your business work.
Many hotel lines come with business suites which are larger rooms complete with kitchens for extended stays. You can also look into renting homes or rooms from individuals through sites like Airbnb.
If you’re traveling for a longer period of time, look into corporate housing. These furnished apartments, houses, or condos provide a cost-effective housing solution. Learn more information to find out if this would be a good option for your trip.
Create a Schedule
Odds are you have a certain routine you follow during a typical work week. Your routine helps you keep track of everywhere you need to be. But when you go on a business trip, your routine is completely changed.
To make sure you don’t miss any important appointments, create a schedule with all your obligations. Include meetings, cocktail hours, meals, and important travel times. Use different colors to signify things that you can’t miss from items that are optional.
We suggest creating a digital schedule with your smart phone’s calendar. That way, even if you’re on the plan or in the back of a taxi, you’ll have access to it. You’ll know when and where you need to be with just a glance.
Keep Track of Your Expenses
Our final tip for a successful business trip is to keep track of all of your expenses. Most companies reimburse you for work-related travel expenses, but you need to have your receipt to receive all the money you’re owed.
Instead of trying to keep track of a large stack of paper receipts, download a scanner app on your smartphone. When you receive a receipt, scan it on your phone and store it in a special folder. Then when your boss asks for your expense receipts, you have everything you need in one convenient location.
Beyond Preparing for Business Travel
Using these tips, you won’t have to stress about business travel.
Before every trip, set up a checklist that contains both your packing list and final steps to get ready. Then, as you prepare, cross off your items so you know you don’t forget anything. Using this method, you’re brain will be able to concentrate on your work business, which will make your boss happy.
For more great travel advice, business or personal, keep tabs on the travel section of this site.