When it comes to travelling for business, it's all about preparation. Most trips will go smoothly, but without the proper planning, things might not always work out!
For some individuals, business travel can mean travelling around your local area, but for others it involves going global and doing business internationally in other countries. No matter where you're going though, there are plenty of business travel tips that you can take from experienced and seasoned business travellers to help your journey run smoothly.
Travel insurance for business trips
This might sound obvious, but you really don't want to travel without having a comprehensive travel insurance policy, for peace of mind. This is especially important to cover medical costs when overseas, as the bills can be extremely high.
You should double-check with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers you for business travel—many policies do, but you should always make sure. It might be the case that the company that you work for also covers you under a corporate travel insurance policy, but you shouldn't presume, so again, double-check with your travel team or human resources department.
Carry-on bags and travelling light
When you're travelling for business and need to fly, try to travel with a carry-on bag only. This will save time and you'll avoid waiting at the carousel for checked-in baggage. This is especially feasible on short business trips abroad, when you only need to take the essentials and can pack lightly.
For longer trips, you might not be able to avoid checking in baggage, and if that's the case, remember to carry all valuables and essentials in your carry-on luggage.
Planning ahead by having your travel essentials packed in advance is also a great idea. So, have phone chargers and power adapters pre-packed to save you a lot of time, effort and to reduce the chance of forgetting to bring them with you.
Admin in advance
If you're travelling by air, you should check in online before you get to the airport to avoid the queues. You might even have the added bonus of choosing your seat in advance.
Keeping your boarding pass on your phone or printing it out at home is also a great way to save some time and energy.
You should also book any hire cars in advance. Those queues can be long enough, even without the hassle of having to go through the whole process at the destination!
Bring the travel essentials
When you’re rushing out the door for a business trip, it's easy to forget some of the travel essentials that you'll need to take with you.
Forgetting to take your laptop charger on a business trip is an oversight that many of us have fallen victim to. It is one of the items that should be at the top of your list. It's becoming much easier to charge your mobile phone but of course, you actually need to remember to have your charger with you in the first place! So, create a list of things that you'll need before you pack so that you can cross-reference it when you're organising your suitcase.
Remember, if you're travelling by air internationally, the liquids and toiletries that you bring need to be under a certain size (100 ml) and be contained in a transparent plastic bag with a zip. These toiletries can be expensive to buy at the airport, but you can buy them in advance and once you have the bottles, there's nothing preventing you from refilling them so that you can use them again.
Try to pack in advance if you can and don't leave things until the last minute, just as you're about to jump into your taxi to the airport. Rushing around trying to make it to departures on time is a sure way to forget something essential. With that in mind, always leave for the airport or your destination in plenty of time. If possible, check for any traffic problems well ahead of time. You can often find updates on social media, where people post about local issues and problems.
Once in a while, the unexpected happens and these things can't always be avoided. However, researching your destination and some pre-trip planning can often result in avoiding awkward and frustrating circumstances. The last thing that you want is for meetings to be cancelled because you've missed a flight or had to rearrange your transport.
Book direct flights when possible
One of the biggest time-consumers is when you have to take multiple flights to a single destination. Of course, it isn't always possible to book a direct flight to every location, but you should when it's an option so that you can avoid wasted time and long stopovers.
Travel time can take up a lot of your day, especially when it involves long flights through different time zones. Having to sit in a terminal building for hours or having to book a hotel room for an overnight stay can add a lot of time to your travels and direct flights are the answer to these problems.
Booking direct flights has other benefits too—not only does it save both time and money, it's also better for the environment. This can be helpful if the business that you're working for has committed to reducing their carbon emissions. It can be impossible to avoid flying for business, but small tweaks such as having a direct-flight policy can make a big difference.
Reward programmes and lounges for frequent business travellers
When it comes to a company's travel arrangements, some businesses see the benefits of letting their representatives travel in business class. Often, one of the perks of this travel upgrade is that you get access to airport lounges. This kind of lounge access can be convenient, as you can sit and work in a quiet environment as well as have access to a range of refreshments. When travelling long haul, this is a welcome added bonus and can help you to feel more refreshed. Plus, you should get access to essentials such as decent free Wi-Fi that can make working at the airport easier if you are stuck there with a delay.
Even if the travel policy of the business that you work for is to book economy travel for you, that doesn't mean that you can't get access to business lounges at airports. One great travel hack for the frequent flyer is that there are a number of schemes available that you can sign up to and pay for this additional privilege. While you might have to pay the fees yourself as an individual, you can get the benefits of the lounge when you travel and if you travel for work a lot, it can be worth it.
Another time saver for US citizens that can come with additional benefits is to sign up for TSA pre-check. This is a service that allows you to go through the security screening process in a much quicker fashion by not having to show or remove things such as shoes, belts, laptops, etc. This not only saves time, but also reduces the general hassle of going through security. Even better, by signing up for this service, you can also get loyalty programme benefits with certain airlines. So, it's a double bonus for US travellers and well worth signing up for before your next business trip.
How to avoid jet lag
If you've previously been on a long-haul trip to a business meeting and experienced the dreaded jet lag, then you'll know that it can have a negative impact on your working day. While it isn't possible to completely avoid jet lag, there are a number of techniques that you can try to reduce its effects so that the next time you are on a work trip, you turn up refreshed and ready to go.
There are a couple of things that can be useful to take with you when you're travelling that don't take up much space in your hand luggage: earplugs and a sleep mask. It can be difficult to fall asleep on an overnight flight or in a different bed, so these two items can make a big difference. They can also help you to combat jet lag by increasing the likelihood that you'll fall asleep.
One of the best ways to combat jet lag is to try to adjust to your new time zone as quickly as possible. So, once you board your flight, change the time on your watch and digital devices to the local time at your destination. Once you've adjusted the time, try to adapt your routine to the new time and sleep whether it's evening or night-time.
There are a few things that are known to make jet lag worse, including caffeine and alcohol. It's a good idea to avoid those two in-flight drinks, as the fresher you feel, the less likely you are to feel any jet lag symptoms. Drinking plenty of water can also help to keep the jet lag to a minimum.
Keeping yourself safe when travelling
It's also a good idea to do some research about the place that you are visiting if you've never been there before. Check to see if there's a phone app available for a local map and services, which many major cities have. For example, you can get a subway map of New York on your phone that's available offline. If you're unfamiliar with the city, this can really help you to find your way around. Many cities have a similar app or travel guide to the local area, which can be very useful for travellers.
If you've got a spare credit card, it's worth keeping it separate from your other cards and documents. This just ensures that you've got a back-up and access to emergency money.
Another good idea is to find out where your local embassy is, again in case you lose your travel documents or need their services for any reason.
It is worth investing some time in familiarising yourself with local customs and etiquette, so that you don't offend someone unintentionally.
You should also find out if there are certain areas and locations close to where you are going that you should avoid. You can research local scams and issues that travellers commonly face when travelling to a certain location.
For most cities and countries, there are things that you should be aware of and need to watch out for. Certain scams that occur in a city can be easily avoided if you know about them in advance. For example, avoiding unauthorised and unlicensed taxi services and sticking with the official, licensed operators always makes sense when travelling in an unfamiliar area.
The good news is that if your company has a travel management programme with a travel policy in place, it can often help to keep you safe and out of harm’s way. These services can help you on a number of levels—from informing you directly about problems in your location that you need to be aware of, to only booking hotels and accommodation for you that's of high quality and in a good area, and giving you the means to contact help, if necessary, when you need it.
Travel management solutions
If you're keen to make business travel run as smoothly as possible and do all that you can to avoid any bumps in the road (figuratively and literally!), Egencia's travel management solutions are an ideal way to improve all aspects of your corporate travel programme.
Speak to one of our team to learn more about how we can help your business to take travel management to the next level.