7 Tips For Business Travel
In my previous job as a human rights lawyer, I have had to attend many conferences that took me around the world. I admit it was the most pleasant part of my job, though admittedly business travel can be very stressful. Indeed, I was an avid traveler even before traveling became a lifestyle for me, and sure enough I always took advantage of conferences overseas to explore whichever place I had to go to.
Now that I made a profession out of my passion for traveling, I carry my job around with me, and a good 90% of my trips are for business, whether it is for a marketing campaign, for an industry show or fair, or for a travel writers conference.
I know that to most people it looks like I am always on vacation, and that I live the glamorous life. But trust me, there is a big difference in traveling for pure pleasure or going on vacation, and traveling for work reasons. I talked about this a year ago, on a post where I explained what the reality of being a travel blogger is.
Traveling for business is definitely less spontaneous – there’s always a schedule to follow, a meeting to attend, an event to go to. And while someone that travels for pleasure may take his time to get over jet lag and won’t have to bother with a dress code, the same can’t be said for someone that travel for business.
Having learned from my mistakes, I now follow a few simple tips that help me to be better prepared for business trips. I have decided to write them down here.
7 tips for business travel
Keep your passport and other travel documents in order
Seems pretty obvious, right? Well trust me, it isn’t. I had not realized my passport had almost run out of clean pages, and almost got stuck at the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. Make sure to check your passport and other travel documents before traveling. If you need a visa, do give yourself plenty of time to apply for it, because some embassies may be slow, or the process of getting a visa may be a bit tricky.
Always have a good travel insurance
The last thing I wish for when I am traveling is getting sick, even less so if I am on a business trip. But it may happen, and it sure has happened. Like the time in Mexico when I ate a bad taco and ended up with a major stomach infection. I was really glad I could count on a good travel insurance, so that I could get medical assistance and get back on my feet fast.
In any case, I make sure to always carry a small pharmacy with me, with prescription medicines as well as other drugs I may need if I get sick – these include paracetamol and imodium.
Join a few frequent fliers programs
One of the best travel tips I ever got was given to me by a friend back in 1998 (yes, that long ago). He suggested to join Alitalia Millemiglia program, so that each time I’d fly, I’d be awarded with some miles and then, as soon as I’d reach a certain number of miles, I could use them to get a free plane ticket.
Since then, I flew for free to Romania, to Cuba, and I am now about to spend the many miles accumulated in the last couple of years to fly to the other side of the world (location to be revealed soon).
I suggest to join at least 3 main frequent flier programs: one with Sky Team, one with Star Alliance, and one with Oneworld.
Get a good place to stay
I generally don’t mind staying in hostel dorms, but I avoid them whenever I am traveling for business reasons. Indeed, I do need my sleep, especially if I have had a long day and I have a packed schedule the following morning. The last thing I need is having to fight my way to sleep through someone’s snoring, and there’s always bound to be a loud snorer in a dorm. This was the case in my hostel in Tel Aviv. It was so bad that not even ear plugs helped to block the noise.
The best thing to do when traveling for business is to get a serviced apartment, especially if the business trip is longer than a couple of weeks. What I like about an apartment versus a hotel room is that it is more spacious and feels more homey, so that I am significantly more comfortable. A good apartment comes with all the amenities such as a comfortable bed, a spacious bathroom, a cozy couch and a tv, a fully equipped kitchen, and even a washing machine and a drier.
MetroResidences has a great selection of serviced apartments in Singapore, one of the world leading business destinations. Some are even pet friendly, and a lot of them have access to a pool – which is great, because it means I can get my workout at the end of the day.
Make sure to have working wi-fi
I hate being disconnected. I feel like I lose good business opportunities any time I am. While in Nepal, I had to rely on a local coffee shop for a decent connection, as the wi-fi at my hotel was practically not working.
A good way to get around this issue is to carry a portable wireless device, such as Tep Wireless. It saves the hassle of looking for a place with decent wi-fi and of getting a local SIM card, as it connects up to 5 devices at once.
Packing for a business trip is not the same thing as packing for a holiday. There is an unspoken rule that one should dress smartly on business meetings. I always make sure to carry a pair of smart pants and a skirt, a couple of dressy tops and nice shoes that I can wear at meetings, and a dress and heels to wear at events and parties. Packing cubes help keeping things in order inside the suitcase, and minimize the risk of creasing.
Another wise thing to do is to pack a spare change of clothes in the carry on luggage. This is an extra precaution, in case the checked in bag gets lost and until it gets delivered. It’s good to have something clean to wear at the end of a long journey!
Eat healthy and keep hydrated
Conferences, business meetings and events all have one thing in common: lots of good food, and lots of alcohol at the end. But all that good food and all that alcohol aren’t necessarily good. I find that eating food that is too rich and too different from I am accustomed too may cause troubles in falling asleep. Just as well, research has shown that alcohol has an effect on sleeping patterns – and not sleeping well has an effect on the way I perform on the job.
I like trying new and good food (to a certain extent) but if I am on a business trip, I try to eat as healthy as possible, and to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Have you ever been on a business trip? What are your top tips for business travel?