With spring in the air and summer fast approaching (for those of us in North America), thoughts turn invariably to travel. But when you own a small business the cost of travel can often be prohibitive.
To that end, it’s important to get as much out of every business trip as possible. Preparation—as ever it seems—is the key to success. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what we believe are some of the most helpful tips we’ve found for business travel:
Learn to pack effectively
Most frequent flyers will tell you that learning to pare down to the essentials is the key to uncomplicated travel and when you’re trying to maximize the effectiveness of your trip every second may very well count. To that end if at all possible avoid checking a bag. A few tips for how to manage this from About.com’s Greg Waddell include:
- Wear your bulkiest items (this includes wearing your heaviest shoes on the day of travel)
- Make use of every available space but remember to make sure expanding your bag won’t cause it to exceed carry on restrictions.
- Heaviest and least important items should go at the bottom of the bag, dress shirts etc. on top
- Invest in travel size tubes of your toiletries and keep them in a clear plastic bag to make it easier to pass through security. Keeping this clear case in an easy to reach outer pocket can also speed things up for you.
- Ensure you have left space for the technology related items you will require on your trip. Most airlines will allow a laptop case or purse and a carry-on but you may want to look into this in advance and remember that all airlines and locations may have different restrictions
In addition, try choosing thinner items to pack and minimizing the number of bulky items you bring with you. Research into the temperature in the area is important but if you can get away with as many light items as possible this will not only help the space in your luggage, but also its overall weight.
Research your hotel and be nice to the staff
If you’re on an overnight trip it is important to ensure that the hotel you’re staying in has all the amenities you require. Keep in mind that this will be home base for at least a little while so it’s important to ensure that they have internet access if you require it, a restaurant where you can grab a quick bite, or at least a restaurant within walking distance and anything else you might need. It is also important to be polite to the staff and above all ask for what you need instead of assuming it should be done automatically. In most cases the people working the front desk are more than happy to provide their opinion and give you suggestions on how best to accomplish what you’re attempting if you ask for their input and help.
On a recent trip to Boston I realized all too late that the hotel where our conference was located was not in the city itself but rather in the west end and quite far from the airport and from the downtown core. Having not budgeted for the additional cost of taking a taxi from one end of the city to the other I wandered down to the front desk and asked the staff member there how difficult it would be to grab public transit, explaining my blunder. “You know what,” she said, leaning conspiratorially over the counter, “Allan’s in the shuttle outside and he has to drive past the subway station. It’s about a twenty minute walk, but I’ll bet he would take you over there.” Sure enough Allan (I actually don’t remember his name but he was very nice) drove me over to the station and even gave me a little instruction on how to get into the city using an unfamiliar transit system.
Create a flexible itinerary
In Boston I had planned to have the afternoon to myself downtown and so I had the additional time available to take three subways and a shuttle bus in order to make it to the airport in time for my flight. “Your schedule should be flexible enough to allow for unexpected problems such as transportation delays and/or opportunities such as unplanned luncheon invitation,” says Corolyn M. Brown of Inc.com. The key here is ensuring that your company goals are being met while allowing for the unknown and giving you enough wiggle room to network a little without having to cancel any of your other important appointments.
And the final tip is: enjoy yourself! If you have made the necessary arrangements to ensure success you will be able to relax. It is this ability to relax which will allow you to accomplish what you set out to do whether it’s close a deal, attend a conference or scout a new expansion location for your business.
Do you travel a lot? Share your tips for effective travel with us by commenting below!
Brown, Carolyn M. “7 Tips for Foreign Business Travel.” Inc.com. March 28, 2011. March 30. 2011. < http://www.inc.com/guides/201103/7-tips-for-foreign-business-travel.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+inc%2Fheadlines+%28Inc.com+Headlines%29>
Murphy, Carole. “Five Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Hotel Stay.” The Sky Steward. February 7, 2011. March 30, 2011. <http://www.dearskysteward.com/2011/02/five-tips-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-hotel-stay/>
Waddel, Greg. “Space-Saving Luggage Packing Tips.” About.com. March 2, 2011. March 30, 2011. <http://businesstravel.about.com/od/luggageandpackingtips/tp/spacesaving_luggagepackingtips.htm>