Poll: Did your business travel increase last year?

A USA Today story reported that US business travel spending is as high as it has ever been.  According to the Global Business Travel 1-15-15-2Association US businesses spent around $292 billion in 2014, and that number is expected to rise to $310 billion next year.  A healthy US economy along with lower oil prices are reasons attributed to this increased spending.  What’s really impressive is this increase was still able to happen even while Europe, Russia and Asia experienced problems in their economies.

I certainly saw an increase in my traveling in 2014.  It felt like I was on the road nearly every week last year, which was a difficult transition after experiencing multiple traveling freezes in prior years.  Many signs are pointing to this trend continuing at my company in 2015, just like what’s anticipated across the country. With additional travel comes greater responsibility (and less free time!), and preparation for increased business travel is of the utmost importance.  Here are some ways to prepare for increased business travel. 

Be smart about packing (and unpacking).  When traveling constantly one of the easiest ways to make a trip less cumbersome is by packing light.  Ask yourself “Will I actually use this?”  Some trips I don’t even take my laptop because there won’t be time to work on it, and I can do everything  directly on my phone.  Look at your schedule for a trip and see what you’ll actually have time to do.  I’ll often bring my knitting to pass the time during flights, but if I have a hectic schedule there’s no point if I’m going to be exhausted every time I get on a plane.  Instead I take advantage of in-flight entertainment (which has really gotten better over the years).   Another tip: when you get home from a trip don’t unpack every single thing if you’re leaving again in a few days.  Have some extras of critical items that essentially live in your bag.  (Here is my list of things that are in my bag all the time. )

Manage your work life balance.  It’s essential to find time to get away from work when you’re not traveling.  Try to schedule a day to sleep in, get a massage, or make time for yoga.  Have a game night with your family.  Anything to relax yourself and to maximize downtime!  Also, be sure you’re using your vacation days, and make it a point not to work during time off.  I hear way too often about business travelers not using their vacation days because they don’t want to take yet another trip. I’ve actually been guilty of this in the past myself. But now I try to take the days and do something in town, or I’ll add vacation days to the end of a business trip and have my family meet me. And on that note….

Sign up for loyalty programs. I hope by now you’ve all signed up for the loyalty programs of the airlines, hotels, and car rental companies you use. It’s a great way to be rewarded for all of the time you spend on the road. You can gain status and earn enough points for free vacations for your family! (If you haven’t signed up yet, here is an introduction to points for business travelers to get you started.) One other note: spend your points!  Don’t be a points hoarder because you may become victim of a points devaluation.

Lists and reminders.  With all the chaos of constant travel it can seem impossible to keep up with everything.   Make to-do lists for the road and for home.  Using lists makes my life way less stressful when I’m always gone. Set reminders on Google Calendar for trips and flight times, and then share with your significant other.   This really helps the Home Warrior and I coordinate family activities and FaceTime.   Finally, don’t count on your memory! Make packing lists.  Some readers make paper lists, some use Excel, and others use an app such as Packing Pro. Either way, write down what you need to bring with you!

Take care of yourself. It’s easier said than done, but whenever you’re able make sure you get enough rest, eat reasonably well, and drink plenty of water. Otherwise all that time on the road will take its toll on your body and you will find yourself run down and possibly sick.

And just because we’re curious….

Did your business travel increase last year?

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  1. My travel definitely increased, but mostly because of a job change. I’m in a job rotation program within the finance department of my company so I went from being a plant accountant to working with the internal audit team which meant some travel to our foreign plants to finally my current (permanent) job.
    My current job is very interesting one because it was on an acquisitions team & both of the companies we were doing due diligence on & ended up acquiring were outside of the country (one in NC & one in Germany). So as part of due diligence & even more so as part of the integration we’ve been travelling like crazy to be on site. Will change a bit this year as we shift our focus to the German company because I’m actually planning to ex-pat for a couple years, more work initially but will be nicer without constant travel.

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