For those new to business travel, the glamour wears thin quickly. Flights get delayed or canceled, and sleeping in strange hotel rooms never elicits the same restful sleep one gets at home. Preparation is key to having less stress and more success in your business travel.
Dress for Success–Former Oklahoma Representative, J.C. Watts once said that “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking…”. This goes, equally, for how you choose to dress for business travel. Everyone wants to travel comfortably and the temptation to don athletic wear or yoga pants for a flight can be overpowering. After all, who’s going to see you? The answer to that is, you never know. The person standing next to you in baggage claim could be your firm’s Western Division Leader. The ultra-professional woman sitting next to you on the hotel shuttle could be from your firm’s fiercest rival. One of the worst feelings is recognizing one of these folks in a business setting the next day, knowing that they remember YOU as the one who was dressed for mowing a lawn.
There is another, strictly practical reason to dress professionally for business travel. If your bags don’t arrive until the next day, you won’t have to do any last-minute shopping or offer apologies as to why you’re underdressed since your travel attire is on point.
“Work” the Reception–Many company meetings and conferences offer networking receptions or mixers for their participants. It is important to be aware of the moniker you could be assigned (and never live down) in this environment. Open bars can close doors to your career if you happen to be “that person.” Receptions are work functions, and you are still representing your firm. Even if there is no formal event and you are invited to an informal gathering at the hotel bar with a few co-workers, the same applies, as do all company policies. Keep it classy.
Know Your Firm’s Corporate Travel Policy–Ignorance of company policy is never an excuse for violating it. Familiarize yourself with what your firm considers acceptable with regards to expenses, including meal per-diems, rental car expenses and hotel policies. Your company may require you to make your own reservations and arrangements, but expect that you adhere to rules and limitations already set forth in advance. A “Do as they Say, Not as They Do” mindset is best adopted here, as you may notice your superiors traveling in a bit higher style than you. Don’t assume you can mirror that behavior, as the policy may make allowances for title within an organization.
Do the “Dark Work” –Simply put, this means making sure that you do the prep work for the following day before you turn in for the night. Tighten up your presentation, set out your clothes, pack your bag if you’re checking out of your hotel in the morning. Timeframes compress significantly in the morning. We tend to be a bit more harried as we try to ensure we’re not forgetting anything. Do as much as you can the night before to enjoy a more relaxed morning.
Pack Monochrome–By packing clothes that can be mixed and matched, you can pack significantly less. The goal here is to never check a bag. Everything you need for a two or three-day jaunt should fit in your carry-on. Think black and grey or shades of blue. Not only will this save you time by avoiding baggage claim, it will set you apart from business travel newbies.
Take Charge–Whenever you see an electrical outlet, charge your phone and bring an external pre-charged charging device. You never know when you might be without a power source for a prolonged period, which could render you out-of-pocket when corporate or family needs to reach you.