Surviving Business Travel 101

It’s a pretty exciting moment when you first hear you’re being sent to some exotic location for a work trip or conference. But pros will tell you that often you won’t see much of the place you’re visiting because of the workload — or because you want to collapse into a heap in your room by the end of a long day. Here are some pro-tips for making the most of business travel.

  1. Do some research. If you were to have 1, 2, or 3 hours to yourself, what would you most want to see? At the end of a long day or during lunch, aim to see one of the things on this list — or convince a coworker to join you!

  2. Download your plane tickets to your phone. Seriously, it makes everything easier going through the gate.

  3. Avoid checking bags if you can. If you must, make sure you keep essentials with you — the last thing you want to do is be stuck for days with one outfit or without essential paperwork.

  4. Keep customer service numbers stored in your phone. Keeping the phone numbers of your hotel, rental car, and airline handy is key, especially if a flight is cancelled or you need to change a hotel or car reservation.

  5. Stay hydrated. Seriously, buy a bottle of water (after you go through the TSA check!) and drink the whole thing during your flight.

  6. Stay positive. Delays happen and they’re frustrating. Try to find the positive by finding a fun airport bar or restaurant or catching up on a TV show you’ve been wanting to watch (pro-tip: download them before arriving at the airport).

  7. Get snacks (and maybe wine?) for the room. After a long work day at a conference or talking to donors, you probably want to crash (or is that just me?) and recharge. I always treat myself to Twizzlers, SunChips, and wine (twist off top only! I learned that the hard way). This way, you’re not paying for room service or finding out last minute that the hotel store closes at a certain hour.

  8. Go to bed on time. If you’re traveling to a different timezone for just a short time, try to stick to your time schedule as much as possible. You’ll thank me later.

General tips if you’re going to travel a lot for work:

  1. Get TSA pre-check. If you can swing it, it’s worth it. It’s $75 for 5 years, and it does involve going to the airport at least once as part of the process. Depending on how often you fly, it can be nice to not have to wait in line (or take off your shoes!). Some credit cards will even reimburse your $75!

  2. Invest in travel items that bring you joy and save you time. I love my Away bag, portable phone charger, and cozy sweater for when I’m on the move.

  3. Find one airline you use and join their rewards program. Rack up those points for work travel so you can have some play travel too!

  4. Keep essentials packed at all times. It will make packing easier and you won’t have to scramble to fit your favorite lotion or shampoo into a TSA-appropriate sized product.

Claire S. Gould