Traveling for work can be much more enjoyable if you plan ahead. Business travel can also break the monotony of the everyday work grind.
There’s no denying the best way to get work done is in your own office, but sometimes that isn’t an option. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, there are some things you can do ahead of time to ensure your trip doesn’t lead to frustration and bad moods—especially if it involves long flights or layovers.
Here are Modern Monclaire’s tips on ensuring that traveling for work goes smoothly.
Before Taking Off
Get Familiar with Your Company’s Travel and Security Policy
The first step to planning a successful business trip is familiarizing your company’s travel and expense policy.
If they have one, spend time reading it. If they don’t, ask for one or the general guidelines. There’s nothing worse than showing up at the airport not knowing what expenses are covered by the company and which ones are not.
It’s also important to understand what your company will cover and what you’ll need to pay for yourself. This way when planning out your business trip, you won’t be surprised by any additional costs that might come up along the way.
Most organizations will want to ensure your safety while traveling. Take a moment to look into any apps or website your company uses to should you run into problems while traveling for work.
Check Your Eligibility for a Company Card
See if your job offers a company credit card. This is the best way to book your travel, pay for food, and other charges associated with your business travel. Use the credit card responsibly because you can be held liable for uncovered charges which can take a toll on your personal credit.
Some companies operate on a reimbursement policy. I find these less than ideal since you need to use your own money and wait while your job reimburses you for charges you’ve incurred. In either case, find out your company policy and make it work for you.
Function Over Fashion for Luggage When Traveling for Work
Invest in quality luggage. Don’t buy a cheap bag that you will have to replace after the first few trips. You’ll likely end up spending more than if you had just bought one good bag in the first place. Avoid this mistake by purchasing high-quality items and leave the other stuff behind.
We are huge fans of Samsonite’s suite of luggage options. You’ll want something durable yet lightweight and Samsonite checks all the boxes. I personally love their products because I’m a serial overpacker. No matter how much I pack, I never seem to overwhelm my luggage. You’ll also want something that can withstand the bumps and bruises of baggage — and I’ve never had any issues.
Final note on luggage: really inspect the zipper because it’s terrible when your zipper busts mid-trip and your options are limited.
Use packing cubes (or other organizational tools) in both bags so that everything has its own place and isn’t all jumbled together when unpacking at your destination(s). This also makes it easier for TSA agents when they need to search through your belongings during security checks at airports–you won’t have any surprises waiting for them!
Sign up for Hotel and Airline Loyalty Programs
These are literally a lifesaver.
This is the easiest way to ensure your comfort and make hotels feel as close to home as possible.
You can use these to your advantage by getting rewards for your loyalty. For example, many hotels offer free upgrades to a room with a better view, or even free breakfast if you’re staying more than one night. Airlines often offer free drinks on board and sometimes even wifi access on the plane. Some loyalty programs even offer free upgrades to business class which is totally worth it.
If you have enough points in these programs, they may even give you free points towards your next trip or at least half off.
Once you find what airline or hotel you enjoy, try to book with them consistently. If you’re a frequent traveler, they will get to know you and your preferences which is always nice.
Pro-Tip: Your company may have preferred vendors they require you to book with otherwise you’ll be out of policy. Don’t risk being non-compliant going against the rules. Join those loyalty programs and you’ll be good to go.
Global Entry, TSA Precheck, NEXUS, and CLEAR are a Non-Negotiable Must
This will make your airport time much more tolerable.
Want to skip the long TSA lines at the airport? Look into these screening services designed to expedite your security screening experience. Due to the obvious sensitivity, you’ll need to follow the strict application process with extensive lead time. But I guarantee once you have it in hand, you’ll appreciate the smooth sailing through airport security, globally.
Well worth it in our book.
Purchase a Solid Power Bank
Power banks are a non-negotiable. You’ll want to make sure you have one with at least 10,000 mAh capacity. The Anker Power Bank has been a staple for any and all travel and hasn’t failed yet. If you can find one that has a USB-C port, the new standard, all the better.
A lightweight power bank that’s portable is important as well–you don’t want to be lugging around something heavy when walking around town after work.
Finally, consider getting one with built-in flashlight functionality so that if your phone dies while out later at night, or while traveling abroad without an International Data Plan (IDP), you’ll still be able to see where you’re going.
Don’t Let Your Skincare Routine Suffer While Traveling for Work
Just because you’re jet-setting for work doesn’t mean your skincare routine takes a nosedive. That’s even more reason to kick it up a notch.
Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray is perfect for keeping your skin hydrated and refreshed under the dry, recycled airplane air. It’s small, compact size and ingredients are the perfect product to tuck away in your carry-on. Give your face a quick spritz throughout the flight — thank us later.
Make sure your skincare products are stored properly and not in direct sunlight when traveling for work. Be diligent and double-check TSA’s current carry-on regulations before leaving home.
Don’t Abandon Your Workout Routine and Set up a Hotel Gym Routine
You’ll want to be sure you have everything you need for an incredible workout—starting with a gym.
Try to secure a gym pass for the hotel gym which can usually be obtained online before your trip, or at the front desk. If you have a gym membership, you can also check to see if you can visit the local gym in your travel location.
Don’t forget to pack versatile workout clothes in case you end up with a departing from your normal workout while traveling for work.
Pack Both Business and Casual Clothes
Business travel can often have unpredictable moments out of your control.
Avoid being caught off guard by packing both business and casual clothes to be prepared. I find colleagues and clients will want to meet after work for dinner or attend more casual events. And I promise, nothing is more uncomfortable than attending a sporting event in a business suit.
You will have to balance this to avoid over packing, but the extra outfits will be worth the additional effort.
Grab Those Travel Documents
Don’t forget your passport and travel documents while on business travel.You’ll need these when going through customs at airports, so don’t leave them behind!
Your passport also serves as proof that you are who you say you are and not someone else. Some countries require visas before entry, which should be obtained well in advance of travel dates–and some countries won’t let any foreigners enter without one at all. Be sure to check ahead of time if this applies for wherever your trip takes place; otherwise there may be no way around paying extra fees upon arrival at border control points internationally.
Pro-Tip: Keep your travel documents, like your passport, in a secure location while moving about your travel location.
Skip the Layovers and Fly Direct
Flying direct is one of the best ways to get where you need to go with minimal fuss.
There are a number of ways to avoid layovers. If you’re flying direct, for example, you won’t have to change planes and can save time and money. Flying direct also means avoiding jet lag by getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep on the plane.
Don’t forget that airlines often offer discounts for early morning flights so check for these before booking your flight time – it might even mean saving as much as 50% off the price of your ticket.
During Your Business Travel
Keep a Calm Morning Routine
How you spend your morning when traveling for work can make or break your day.
Spend the time in the evening to set yourself up for success the following morning. Think about selecting your work outfit and preparing your work bag to save your time and sanity. If you can afford the space in your luggage, consider bringing a few home comforts. We love these shower bombs from Cleverfy because they give you an elevate shower experience without additional time or effort.
Get Knowledgeable About Local Business Etiquette
If there’s a time to be on your P’s and Q’s and make your parents proud, it’s now.
Don’t embarrass yourself or your job because of silly mistakes that are avoidable.
As you travel, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, local business etiquette can be different from country to country and even city-to-city. Ask a trusted colleague if you’re traveling to a new place and unaware of local customs. If you’re not sure how the locals do things, do some research before your trip–you’ll be glad you did.
Secondly, try to follow any local customs that might help make your time more enjoyable or less stressful. For example: if someone invites you for coffee at their office, bring them something small as a gift when making a meeting with them; refrain from asking too many questions about personal or sensitive matters and, don’t touch anyone during meetings unless they extend their hand first. And as always arrive on time although early is always better.
Finally, avoid offending people by being respectful of their culture and traditions while also working within the bounds set by yourself and your company’s policies regarding conduct abroad.
Skip the Alcohol, if Possible — If You Can’t Read This
If you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time, one of the most important things you can do is stay hydrated. Alcohol is a diuretic–meaning it makes your body pee more than usual–and can lead to dehydration if consumed in large quantities. If your body gets dehydrated, you will not only feel tired, but your work is bound to suffer.
Alcohol does not help with sleep! In fact, many people find that alcohol makes them wake up earlier than normal because their bodies are working extra hard during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which occurs at nightfall. This means less quality rest overall and makes getting up early even harder which is not ideal when traveling for work.
Keep and Store Your Receipts
Keeping all of your receipts is a very necessary evil.
You may think that it’s not a big deal to lose a receipt, but if you do, you’ll have no way of proving how much something cost or where it came from. It’s also a required when you fill out those expense reports after your business travel. You run the risk of being held financially responsible for charges you can’t prove.
Store them somewhere safe in case anything happens to them during travel or at home. There’s nothing worse than losing everything in one fell swoop–so keep things organized.
One of the easiest ways to do that is by taking a picture and scanning it into a PDF format using software like SmallPDF. This will allow you to compress and email it to yourself for easy access.
Whatever you do, create a system that works while traveling for work.
Take Your Safety Seriously
Although you’re traveling for business, you’re still in a different place than your normal location, so don’t get too comfortable. Your safety is of the utmost importance so take extra measure to ensure your comfort.
One of the easiest ways is to enable “Find My iPhone” if you’re an Apple device user and allow your friends and family to track your location. They will be able to see exactly where you are and send help should you run into trouble. There are also a number of apps made for this exact purpose.
Lastly, as mentioned above, figure out what safety measures your company has and be sure to comply.
Find Leisure Time and Enjoy Yourself
Okay, I get it.
You’re there for work — nothing more, nothing less.
However, you still have an incredible advantage a lot of women don’t have! I encourage you to find moments outside of work and the client site to explore the city (safely) you’re visiting. Even if it means heading to the hotel spa (because, hello, self-care) before winding down for the evening.
Don’t miss out on potentially the best moments of your career because you’re too deep in the world.
I promise, you’ll regret it and kick yourself later.
After Your Travels
File Your Expense Report
You did the hard work of tracking those receipts, now you need to get your expense report in. The sooner you get it in, the better, especially if you used your own money — you’ll want to recoup your fund. Plus, be a good steward of your company’s money and do these things on time. There is likely a policy that tells you how long you have to submit your expense report.
As time consuming as it may be, do it. You don’t want your corporate credit deactivated or to get in trouble for something fairly easy to complete.
Say Thank You
I’m sure you did this throughout your travels, however, it doesn’t hurt to show a little extra love to anyone who went above-and-beyond for your comfort. Or so to someone who took you out to dinner, lunch, you name it.
It’s a good practice to get into because they may be more inclined to treat you again if you head out their way in the future.
Unpack, Relax, and Breathe
Traveling for work can be equally exhilarating and exhausting. Set aside time to unpack, relax, and slow down from your business travels. If you’re a frequent flyer you likely have method to your unpacking process which is great — stick to what works.
Whatever your process might be ending your travels, just remember to take a beat and get ready for the next one using our helpful tricks.