7 Tips for Planning a Business Trip

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Important business meetings require your complete attention, which is difficult if your travel has been a nightmare. If you are not a seasoned business traveler, the following few tips can help make your trip easier and more productive.

1. Prepare and Organize All Documents

Create a template on your laptop for your upcoming travel. The template should include both a pre-trip checklist and an itinerary. Set it up so you can easily modify it for future travel.

The template should include a list of standard documents, typical for any business travel. Also include a list of non-standard documents, specific to any foreign countries you might visit.

Type “what documentation do I need to visit (country)?” in a search engine. The results will contain both government and non-government information (don’t rely on non-government information).

To save briefcase clutter, use digital documentation wherever it is accepted. Store digital documentation, such as proof of insurance, on your phone or tablet for easy access.

2. Reserve the Right Accommodation Beforehand

The right accommodations are a significant factor in a successful business trip.

  • For short trips, book a room between the airport and the place of business. Convenience and a good night’s sleep are the primary considerations.
  • For longer trips, book a room central to dining and entertainment. Relaxation, dining, and recreation become added considerations for an extended stay.

If no one will see the hotel except you, spend as much or as little money as you want for a room. But if any business will be conducted on the hotel’s premises, the quality of the hotel becomes a reflection of your business.

“If you anticipate doing any work in your room, make sure the hotel has the necessary services,”— advises Carol, the administrator of Carmana Plaza, a boutique hotel in Vancouver—“A free Wi-Fi seems like a given in this day and age, however, you’ll be surprised by the number of reviews all over the web complaining about the lack of stable internet connection in their hotel of choice. Make sure to check negative reviews first to find out if there is a running theme before booking a room.”

3. Choose Your Transportation Method

A business traveler will generally use one of four transportation methods upon arrival:

  1. Public transportation
  2. Car rental
  3. Town car service
  4. Limo service

For both domestic and foreign travel in a large city, public transportation is usually the easiest option. A cab is the best way to accommodate any luggage when going from the airport to the hotel. A taxi will get you to and from the hotel and the place of business quicker than a bus or train—but it will be more expensive.

If parking is not a problem at your hotel or place of business, renting a car gives you the most independence. But it’s also time-consuming to pick up and return the car. Car rental for foreign travel in an unfamiliar country is risky, due to the different insurance regulations, laws, language, and the like.

Another option is a limo or town car service. Both could be a great option if you need a more luxurious means of transportation, especially for more than one person. Many people don’t know the difference between them and get confused when hearing the word “limousine”. Alice Robinson, the requests manager at Houston limo service Abiding Limousines, explains the difference:

“When hearing “limousine”, most people imagine that kind of long “sausage” automobile—a stretch limo that is usually booked for various kinds of celebrations and can haul up to twelve people. But it’s not always the case. 

“Limousine” means any luxurious automobile with a chauffeur, usually a sedan that can accommodate up to five persons. And “town car” is just a synonym for it. 

If you are on a business trip, you can book a town car service to take you from the airport to your hotel, as well as to take you to a conference or a meeting and back the next day, for example. You will need to set the pick up and drop off times in advance for every transportation.”

4. Learn About Your Destination

If you are unfamiliar with your destination, do some online research to familiarize yourself with the surroundings.

Your safety is of primary concern. A business traveler in the wrong part of town is a magnet for crime. If you must travel to or through a high-crime area, avoid any public transportation other than a cab. And do not walk in high-crime areas.

When traveling to a country where English isn’t a common language, memorize a few key phrases such as:

  • Where is the police station?
  • Where can I find a bathroom?
  • Where is an English-speaking restaurant?

Smartphone apps are also available to help with translation issues.

For any free time, identify places of interest that you would like to visit.

5. Create an Itinerary

As mentioned previously, an itinerary should be included in your travel template.

Include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people and places that you might need to contact—in digital or print format. This contacts list must also be stored on your smartphone. If you ever have an urgent need for help, you do not want to be separated from your contacts list.

Schedule your business meetings and appointments on your phone with audible reminders. Allow extra travel time in an unfamiliar city due to unexpected delays.

Avoid the stress of planning during your trip by scheduling your expected leisure time. But give yourself enough flexibility to take advantage of an unexpected adventure.

6. Don’t Overstuff Your Luggage

Pack lightly and place your belongings strategically. Put things that you may need during the flight on top of a bag and make sure your clothes stay at the bottom. This way your clothes won’t get as wrinkly and you won’t need them until you’re at the hotel anyway. Additionally, you can follow these tips on packing your suit so it doesn’t wrinkle.

When possible, pack so that you need only two carry-on bags. Otherwise, you risk having your dress shoes in the checked baggage that went to the wrong airport. In some cases, it is cheaper to buy bulky throwaway items at your destination than it is to pay baggage charges.

Find the maximum size for the overhead storage unit and the storage area under the seat by contacting the airline.

Make sure the luggage you use maximizes the space in those two areas. If it doesn’t, buy new luggage. It will be well worth the expense if you can avoid any check-in luggage.

Find out if any of the items you would typically travel with are prohibited at your destination.

7. Back Up Important Information

Digitize as much important information as you can on your phone, and keep it on your person. While cloud storage is suitable for a backup, make sure to store your information directly on the device. Otherwise, you might not be able to access it if you are in an area with no phone or internet reception.

What you cannot digitize, such as your driver’s license, credit cards, passport, and the like, keep on your person as well (purse or briefcase).

Any information that you would not want to be without should be backed up. Good options include cloud storage and thumb drives.

For extra protection, print out hard copies (including scans) and store with your luggage.