Published on November 21st, 2013 | by Aira0
How To Make The Most Of Business Travel
Travelling for business sounds glamorous and as The Guardian points out, “glossy graduate recruitment adverts trying to attract the country’s brightest and best often list frequent travel as one of the perks of the job.” Unfortunately the reality is very different and anyone who’s travelled in the line of duty understands that it can inconvenient, lonely and tiring.
Working without distractions
Peter Armstrong, a business strategist for BMC software, makes his business trips easier with a pair of headphones, “the best investment I’ve made in the past two years has been to buy some noise-cancelling headphones. I can now hear, and actually enjoy, inflight films.” Armstrong also recommends that flight and travel times should be spent recharging not researching. In fact he even suggests that you leave your laptop at home to reduce stress and allow for adequate preparation. But not everyone holds that view.
Dan Patterson at Smallbizdaily.com writes, “extra hour while you are waiting to board the plane is ideal to read a work related book or work on a project for your company and a flight can be the perfect time to catch up on blog writing for your business. It is important to remember that your six-hour flight is an ideal time to get work done without distraction.” So whether you work to live or live to work, there are ways that you can turn your work trip into something to embrace rather than endure.
“The hardest part of business travel is the disruption of routine,” says travel author Chris McGinnis, in Forbes. “The good part is it forces you to explore new things, but the bad part is that it often results in less sleep and productivity.”
McGinnis believes that one of the best ways to reduce stress abroad is to maintaining routines that help you function at optimum levels like exercise, healthy eating and sensible sleep patterns.
Chief Executive of online career management website Penelope Trunk tries to simplify her business travel routines by always using the same airlines and chains of hotels. This not only boosts loyalty points and yields preferential treatment but Trunk finds that “she knows the food, fitness centres and accommodations will be consistent”.
Frequent travellers know that the first thing you need to address when arriving in a new country is currency. Will Thomas from Tuxedo Money Solutions says that prepaid currency cards are the business traveller’s best friend. Thomas says, “whether your company issues them or you arrange it yourself, instead of having to keep a stash of euros or dollars or getting stiffed at the airport, having prepaid travel cards for each currency is ideal for frequent travellers. You can load the card and it’s there ready to go when you are.”
The online access makes the prepaid option even better because it makes it easier to keep track of expenses for reimbursement.
When business blogger Carol Roth asked her network of entrepreneurs for their best business travel tips, many of them sung the praises of packing light.
One comments advised, “if you pack light in a carry-on bag, you are able to be more flexible and mobile in your travels.” Not only does packing light keep you less weighed down but it also means no queuing at the luggage carousel at the airport – you can simply walk out of the plane and into a taxi saving time, hassle and the potential for lost luggage.
The overwhelming majority of Roth’s 58 tips for better business travel said that being kind was the best way to make the most out of business travel.
Corinne Gregory says, “in an age where travel is stressful and everyone is grumpy, you’ll find you go a lot farther if you lead with a smile. I’ve gotten free First Class upgrades, room upgrades, even free products and services just because I was polite, courteous and cheery.”
Another respondent says, “It’s amazing how much more you can get accomplished on a biz trip if you are simply nice and polite to everyone you meet.” Travel can be hard on everyone, and sometimes it’s the person behind the counter who’s having a worse time, so it can never hurt to treat others how you like to be treated, and as respondent John Paul Engel wisely puts it, “I never regret being nice to people.”
The obvious way to get the most out of a trip abroad on the company dime is to do a little site-seeing in your free time. But for some people, this simply isn’t an option. However, while you might not find the time to explore, you can use the experience to see if it’s a destination that you might want to return to for a future holiday.
But if you find yourself with enough room in your schedule, Lonely Planet suggests “business meetings over lunch at those restaurants you’ve been dying to visit”, or plan “meetings in the morning, perhaps over breakfast, and then allocate yourself a couple of hours of personal time in the afternoon so that you can head off and explore.”
Lindsay Ueberroth from Preferred Hotel Group tells Forbes that she likes to arrive the day before to ease jet lag and allow time to acclimatise and check out the area. She recommends, that “rather than meeting in a hotel lobby or restaurant, for example, invite a client or colleague to an exhibition you’d like to see. If the relationship is very formal, set up a business meal near the site you want to visit, and go before or after.”
About the Author: Gavin Whittaker has years of experience writing about the advantages of currency cards, negotiating new banking and analysing the global markets. Based in London, Gavin uses his experience as a finance journalist to share his best tip with his readers.
Photo credit: Nick Harris