Traveling for work for the first time is a daunting prospect. When you don’t have your very own Ryan Bingham (AKA George Clooney in Up in the Air) telling you how to efficiently move through the airport, maximize your airline miles and pack your carry-on, it’s very likely you’re going to make a common tech travel mistake. And when there’s added job performance pressure — a big slip-up could become the reason you’re not promoted — you can worry even more about work travel. To help soothe your first business-trip fears, we’ve compiled a list of five fool-proof tips that’ll have you breezing through security and impressing your boss.
1. Prepare a week in advance. A week before you’re set to leave, take your best business outfits to the dry cleaners, stock up on business cards, schedule your out-of-office email message, get cash from the ATM, organize your personal and professional travel documents and make a list of everything you’ll need to bring with you from the office (laptop, flash drives, photocopies, etc.), so that the night before your flight, you’re not scrambling and stressed. That’ll allow you to get a good night’s sleep, which will put you on top of your game during the trip.
2. Don’t weigh the rest of your team down with a bulky suitcase. In other words, only bring a carry-on. You don’t want to be that coworker who forces everyone to stand at baggage claim. Especially if it’s a relatively short trip, you can easily mix and match one suit with a few shirts and different jewelry for your meetings. Pack a pair of reliable heels and wear a pair of flats through the airport. Streamline your makeup and toiletries, and pack them all in a sturdy, clear bag, in order to breeze through airport security. Not only will smart packing make it easier to get through the airport, it’ll make getting dressed before those early morning meetings a breeze.
3. Don’t drink. Or, at least don’t drink a lot. If you’re at a business dinner and everyone else is ordering a glass of wine, by all means, don’t abstain if you don’t want to. But resist the urge to linger at the bar for a nightcap with your coworkers. That office gossip you partake in after boozing won’t feel so good the next morning (and neither will your head).
4. Save and organize receipts. Expense reports will be waiting for you when you get back to the office, and the last thing you’ll want to do while catching up on work is dig around for your lunch receipts. Find a method that works best for you in advance, whether it’s a simple file folder or an app like Expensify, and stick to it. While this may be your first business trip, it won’t be your last, so also be sure to sign up for airline miles and hotel points to maximize your future work-travel bennies.
5. Plan to be everywhere early. Schedule each hour of your day, from airport travel time to meetings and client dinners — and plan to arrive 30 minutes early to all important appointments. This’ll ensure that you’re professionally punctual, even if you get lost en route or have to send one more email from the hotel. If you have to catch up on work from the office while you’re away, schedule that into your day too. Then, if you have free time, go explore! You’re in a new city, after all, and some fresh air is bound to do you good after spending a bunch of time on airplanes and in conference rooms.
If you’re about to go on your first business trip, tweet us @BritandCo and tell us where you’re headed!
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