How to make the most out of work travel

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From whirlwind overnights to week-long conference trips, traveling is a key part of the job for many industries.

For the uninitiated, you might be dreaming of your first work travel trip. For the pros out there, you know it’s not always glamorous, but you’re well aware of the value. And after a few trips, you probably have a wealth of opinions and tips for making the most of your travels. Keep reading and we’ll dive into some of the tips we hear most often from our seasoned travelers, especially during this changing time.

Why Work Travel is Important

First, why is travel so important? For many industries, it’s a must. As technology has evolved over time, it’s completely normal now for companies to do business with people and partners all across the globe. And while email, video chat, and other online platforms can connect us virtually, sometimes there’s no getting around the need for an in-person meeting, even during a year when travel has changed.

But corporate travel isn’t just good for business, it’s also great for the individual. Here are some reasons to say “yes” to that next work trip:

  • You’ll show your boss you’re invested in the company’s success, as well as your career. Taking charge shows leadership potential!
  • Traveling with coworkers can improve your relationships. Bonding with coworkers shows you’re a team player and that you can get along with different types of people.
  • You’ll get to know clients, partners, and customers. Especially for those in sales roles, connecting in-person can go a long way in building an ongoing relationship.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Before you start researching the closest happy hours to your hotel or the in-flight movies you’ll be enjoying on the plane, remember why your company planned the trip in the first place: for you to work!

Whether you’re a top-tier executive or an intern (or anything in between), it’s important that you make work your priority. After all, you’re there to represent your company.

Some ways to do this include:

  • Be prepared: Make sure you know what’s expected of you at all times and what would make the trip a success in the eyes of management.
  • Set goals for the trip: Make a great impression with your boss by thinking of a few key goals, and then reporting on them when you return
  • Look the part: Especially if you’re traveling with a group, make sure to connect beforehand to align on a dress code.
  • Practice your elevator pitch: Whether you’re chatting with a prospective client about a new product, or you’re introducing yourself to coworkers from another office, be ready to answer key questions efficiently, concisely, and correctly.
  • Bring business cards: They might seem old-school, but business cards are still a great way to quickly share information, especially if you’re heading to a conference or another big event.
  • Say yes: Extra dinners and client meet-and-greets might sound exhausting (especially after a long flight), but they are great opportunities to advance your career and build your network even more.
  • Stay positive: Enough said!

But Have Some Fun, Too!

Once the work is done, though, don’t just hide out in your hotel room. Even if it’s just a few hours to explore the immediate surroundings, do it! If you have time to research your options prior to leaving for your trip, all the better; that way, you can take full advantage of your time away.

Some people also opt to extend their trip a few days or use it as a jumping-off point for another travel location. For example, if your home base is Seattle and your client meeting is in Los Angeles, tacking on a few PTO days to rent a car and head down to San Diego to meet up with friends is a great way to make the most of your travel time. Or, consider inviting your significant other to join you near the end of your work responsibilities.

Of course, make sure you run these plans by your management team so they’re not caught off guard; depending on their travel policies, they may have you cover your own flight home or work out expenses another way. As long as it’s not anything that will cost your employer more money (or distract you from working), they’ll likely say yes. Also, make sure to check current closures or changes in service with the growing COVID-19 changes.

Pack Your Patience

If there’s one thing certain about travel, it’s that there are a lot of uncertainties! Delays are common, so it’s important to be mentally, emotionally, and physically ready for anything along the way. Keep your laptop charged, have a backup plan ready, and by all means, make sure you’ve got a buffer of time before any important meetings. There’s nothing more stressful than rushing directly from the airport to an important client meeting. If you can, fly in the night before to allow yourself plenty of time to get settled.

Listen to Your Body

Speaking of patience, it’s so important to take care of your overall health before and during your trip. Travel can be tough, and add in the added pressure of work travel in particular and it’s all-too-easy to let stress get the best of you.

Helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Stick to healthy, nourishing food if you can and pack your own snacks to stay energized
  • Stay hydrated
  • Invest in noise-cancelling headphones to help you relax en route
  • Bring what you need to get a good night’s sleep at your hotel (earplugs, sleep mask, comfortable pajamas, etc.)
  • Keep alcohol to a minimum
  • Have a plan in place to avoid jet lag, if you’re switching time zones

Take Advantage of Travel Perks

Work travel looks different at every company, so make sure you understand the policies in place. For example, if you’re high on the leadership tier, you might get access to a company credit card to use while you’re on your trip. Other companies might ask that you pay your own way and then fill out a request for reimbursement once you’re home.

If you’re in the latter scenario and you find yourself traveling regularly, consider signing up for an airline-specific credit card for extra travel perks, like seat upgrades and bonus miles you can put toward personal use later on. Investing in a TSA PreCheck membership is also worth considering, as it can save you a ton of time and stress.

Travel with Confidence with TurboRes

As your go-to for business travel, we’re proud to offer the best hotel selection, seamless bookings, and easy RFP management so that booking top destinations is stress-free. With TurboRes by your side, work travel is easy for everyone, allowing your employees to make the most of their time and focus on what matters, instead of getting bogged down by the details. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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