So you’re heading out on your very first business trip? Whether a workshop in a city a few states away or an annual conference in another country, don’t forget these expert business travel tips from a former-newbie employee!
The worst way to start off a business trip is by a) being unorganized, so b) you don’t know what you’re doing, and c) you end up being late. Instead you want to compile everything that you’ll need into a Google doc, spreadsheet, or even your Outlook Calendar; anything that will allow you to see your entire trip planned out. (I personally use TripCase for all of my travel planning!) Include a packing list, a list of important flight information (airlines, times, flight numbers, and confirmation numbers), contact numbers for your hotel, your boss/coworkers, the organizer of the conference/workshop you’re attending, and the taxi or car service you’ll use to get from the airport to the hotel/conference center.
Make sure to run through each step of your itinerary before you leave, which will hopefully allow you to find any gaps in your plans before they happen!
Know your company’s travel policies
- Are you allowed to check a bag?
- Do you need to clock hours for your travel time?
- Is there a special lot for parking at the airport, train station, etc?
- Will you be reimbursed for tipping shuttle drivers and bellmen?
- Does one employee foot the bill at lunch, or does each person pay separately?
- Are there guidelines for how much you should spend for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Save your receipts
As in all of your receipts whether you’re required to use a company-issued purchasing card, or you plan to be reimbursed for expenses on your own personal credit car. Parked a car at the airport? Keep that stub. Stopped for lunch en route? Don’t even think about wadding up that receipt! Paid Fedex to have items shipped directly back to the office? You know the drill! You simply can’t expect to get reimbursed if your company can’t be sure that your purchase was a legitimate business expense.
Immediately unpack your suitcase
I know that it’s tempting to get to your hotel room after a long day of travel and sleep, get a jump start on work, or even sneak down to the pool for thirty minutes of sunshine. But you will regret not hanging up your blazer, nice dresses, and all those work shirts, because we all know “non-iron” really means “keep me folded in your suitcase for more than an hour, and I will have creases for days.”
I like to travel with my own skirt hanger, which easily folds to fit in my suitcase with the skirts attached! Most hotels will have an ample number of hangers all ready for you in the closet, but you can always call the front desk if you need more. It’s also a good idea to pack some dewrinkling aerosol spray, especially if you won’t have time to iron anything.
Sign up for a frequent flyer program
This last tip is more a perk for you than a real necessity when traveling for business. At my company, we use an online system for creating all of our travel itineraries, and it even allows me to include my personal frequent flyer number when I book air travel. That means that even though my company pays for my ticket, I get to credit the miles that I fly to my personal account. Flying isn’t cheap, and every little bit counts, so find out which airlines frequently fly to and from your local airport, and sign up for their frequent flyer program!
When you’ve racked up some points with your program, you can also get free upgrades, passes to spend the day in airport clubs, and more exciting deals that can be used for business travel.