A couple of weeks ago on my Weekend Express post a reader asked if anyone had a master list of things to do before leaving the office for a business trip. It’s a great request! As every business traveler knows, leaving the office for a trip can be a daunting task. There are so many things that can get lost in the shuffle trying to close things in the office. Here are the things I do before I leave for a business trip.
Set out-of-office replies. As Pam pointed out in her comment, it’s important to have some sort of out-of-office reply when you leave on a business trip. I personally use an alert in Outlook when I’m on a business trip instead of an out-of-office reply. This way whoever is emailing me knows I’m working but on a business trip so response times will vary. Here are instructions on how to set up an auto reply alert in Outlook if you want to do that. Be sure you set your voicemail as well to reflect you are out of the office on a business trip. Finally, if you have a coworker backing you up make sure they have instructions, contact info for pertinent internal and external customers, and are able to access necessary files while you’re out. Note: If you’re out for several days it’s a nice gesture to bring your back-up a small token—t-shirt, local souvenir, etc.
Double-check reservations and flight status. It’s a great idea to confirm your reservations before your trip. The day before you leave make sure your airline, car rental, and hotel reservations have the correct dates and locations. Be sure to also check your flight status several times up until you walk out the door. If your flight gets delayed don’t use that as an excuse to hang around the office a little longer as I’ve seen flights get delayed then revert back to the original take off time. It’s best to get to the airport and deal with delays there
Notify customers you deal with on daily basis. When you’re going to be traveling it’s good to notify internal and external customers you deal with on a daily basis that you’ll be gone on business and to expect a slower than normal response time.
Check in for your flights. With most airlines you can check in 24 hours before your flight departs.
Charge your batteries. The night before my flight I charge my phone, laptop (charge my extra laptop battery if long flight), kindle, and my mobile charger.
Check the weather. No matter where you’re traveling to be sure to always check the weather forecast the night before. Weather can affect what you pack, when you depart, the rental car you choose, and many other things. Staying on top of the weather forecast will help eliminate frustrating surprises. If you think your flight may get delayed due to weather have a plan b in place. I also recommend if you are going to be traveling internationally to check travel alerts through the State Departments website. Weather.com might give a one hundred percent chance of rain in their ten day outlook but that forecast won’t mention a typhoon is on the way. The State Department is good about weather related warnings like these so I always check out their alerts before I travel internationally.
Take care of manager sign offs. If you have something that requires a manager sign off be sure that you take care of that before you leave on a business trip. I personally am able to take care of any manager signoffs remotely, but everyone is different so think this through before your next business trip to see if it applies to you in any way.
Make sure loved ones at home know you’re leaving. My husband and I communicate my business travel through Google Calendar, but I also like to verbally make sure we are on the same page about my trip. I try and help plan meals and schedule times for us to Facetime so I can see both the Home and Mini Warrior.
Fill up with gas. This is a minor recommendation, but if you are driving your own car to the airport make sure you fill up the night before if you are running low on gas. When I drive to the airport traffic can come to a halt with just a minor fender bender. This obviously adds to the commute time. Add a stop for gas on top of this and you may find yourself missing your flight. By filling up the night before you have at least controlled that part of your commute time.
By the time you’ve been traveling as long as I have, a lot of this is second nature and I do it without realizing. For those first few trips, though, it’s incredibly helpful to have an actual checklist.
Readers, what do you do before leaving the office for a business trip?
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