The Traveller’s Guide to a Stress-Free Business Trip
Travelling can be stressful, but a little bit of preparation can help to take the pain out of business travel.
- Let colleagues know well in advance
More than likely your team will be amongst the first to know, but what about the other people in your business with whom you’re working on projects? If you’re going to be unavailable at a crucial time, the more notice you can give them the better, so you can get things organised before you go and keep contact to a minimum during your trip.
- Let your clients know
Even though mobile technologies mean you will be contactable throughout your trip, your ability to deal with requests and enquiries will inevitably be limited. Plus, who wants to be catching up on emails late at night when you get back to the hotel room? Reach out before you go to let your most important clients know you’ll be only limitedly available and check whether they need anything before you go.
- Relax your schedule either side of your trip
There is always going to be some last-minute organisation and post-trip follow-ups to be completed, so try to leave your diary relatively free either side of your trip to give yourself time for these tasks. The last thing you want is a late finish the day before you travel.
- Try to anticipate requirements
What is happening in your schedule following your return? Are those projects going to need information while you are away? If so, make sure you have access to the information you need – or you’ve delegated effectively to colleagues. Establish clear lines of escalation so that colleagues are empowered to deal with queries and your trip is disrupted as little as possible.
- Have backups for all the files you take with you
However well set up your IT systems are, technology fails can happen. If you’re presenting a report, make sure you have it securely stored locally as well as in the cloud – that way, if you have problems with internet connections or your laptop is stolen, your will be able to find a workaround easily.
- Set your out of office
You might have the best intentions in the world to stay up-to-date with your emails, but travel is unpredictable and tiring. Even with the best will in the world, your speed of response is likely to dip. Help to manage your colleagues’ expectations and set a bespoke outgoing message for your email out of office and your voicemail.
- Prep for your return
Before you go, clear your desk and write a task list for your return; this way, you’ll find it easier to pick up where you left off on your return.
- Know your entitlements
If you aren’t already clear, check with your travel booker or HR travel policy chief exactly what you are entitled to claim for food, entertainment, travel and other necessities, and what evidence you need to provide. This will help you avoid complications when you come to complete your expenses on your return.
- Understand what to do in a crisis
While you’re checking about your entitlements, confirm what your obligations are too. You need to know who you need to notify and check in with while you’re away. It’s also worth finding out about emergency arrangements and what support services are offered to travellers. Knowing you have someone to call if something goes wrong can be hugely reassuring. Programme the number into your phone so you don’t need to search for the right number in the heat of an emergency situation.
- Download travel apps before you go
Download all the apps you need before you go. Don’t stop at just your secure WAN, office and productivity apps; download any offered by the airlines and hotels you are using. As well as being able to access offers and discounts, you’ll often find really useful information about airport maps, executive lounges, etc. If your company uses a travel management company, download their app too. For example, the Travel Counsellors MyTC app enables travellers to access essential travel information on and offline.
- Pack like a pro
If you travel regularly, you might want to consider journalist Joan Didion’s technique for packing: she had a list of essential items taped to the inside of her suitcase. Packing light can make all the difference on a long journey or airplane flight; making the whole travel experience easier.
- Consider extending your trip for a couple of days leisure
Even with the best laid plans, travel is tiring. Remove the tension from your schedule and reduce the negative impact of your business trip on your stress levels, by bookending your trip with a couple of days R&R. If you’re going somewhere new, it can be very rewarding to augment your business travel with a few days of holiday. Even if you are travelling somewhere you’ve been many times, seeing the city as a tourist can open up a completely new experience. You can share some downtime with local colleagues and gain better insight into the local culture – plus, it can be fun and relaxing.
Companies are increasingly being flexible about taking holiday around business travel because they recognise the benefits of less-stressed and more engaged employees and that travelling off peak can have financial benefits to the company too. For example, finding flights two days after the conference ends can be a lot easier and cheaper than returning on the last day of the event.
For more tips and advice on how to get the most out of your business travel please contact us or speak to your Travel Counsellor.
Give us a call on +44 (0) 161 464 5350 or fill in the form below and let us call you back.