Tips for a smooth business trip

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a close up of a barThis week I had one of those travel days that felt like a comedy of errors.

Extra traffic on the drive to the airport, so I arrived late and flustered to the park and ride. A new guy was driving the bus that day, and he was nice but clearly inexperienced and not as speedy as I needed. At security I got stuck behind a lady who didn’t have any of her documents ready.  Then when it was my turn to go through the scanner of course I was randomly selected for additional screening.

And did I mention I was starving?? Before departing for the airport I had envisioned arriving early, with time for a stop at my fave Vino Volo for a glass of wine and tasty snack. Instead I wolfed down a granola bar while sprinting down the terminal, arriving at my gate to find out they had started boarding early and I was one of the last on the plane. Ah well. Business travel is nothing if not glamorous!

Anytime you go on a business trip there is a chance for things to go wrong. Whether it’s your shipments not arriving on time, flight delays, or lost luggage, things just happen! Here are a few ways that I try to anticipate issues and deal with them before they can happen.

Don’t check your bag. In my first year of travel I had to carry a lot of gear for a vendor expo. It was a multi-city trip, and somehow I ended up with an extra bag to take to the second leg of my trip. I could have made carrying-on work but I thought it would be more comfortable if I could check the extra bag. Nope. My bag didn’t make it, and I had to make a late-night Target run to buy shoes, makeup, and a tablecloth for my event. Ever since I carry-on, without exception, for work trips.

Keep snacks on hand. While my granola bar wasn’t the wine-and-cheese feast I had imagined, I was so grateful I had that small snack with me. I always, always recommend keeping snacks in your travel bag, since you never know when you’ll be running late or stuck on the tarmac or some other reason keeping you away from a meal.

Have your addresses accessible. When I was first starting out there were a couple of times that I didn’t have a record of my hotel, I just knew it was a Courtyard Marriott somewhere in the city. I would generally look up the address on my computer when I arrived. Well, once the email was accidentally deleted and I had literally no idea what hotel I was staying on. I had to call my travel department, after hours so I waited on hold for close to an hour,, and of course it was the hotel on the airport property. Sigh. Now I use TripIt to keep track of my reservations, plus I have the hotel/airline/car apps on my phone, plus I have all of their customer service numbers saved in my contacts. Just in case!! If I’m visiting a new office I make a note in my phone of the office address, phone number, and main POC’s email. Again, just in case.

Don’t fully unpack. There are a few things that never come out of my suitcase: toiletries, brush, backup makeup bag,  travel umbrella, pashmina, comfort bag (with lip balm, Emergen-C, lotion, and hand sanitizer), and earbuds. Can you tell which things I’ve forgotten and desperately needed on trips?

So while my trip this week didn’t start out as I anticipated, my flight left on time, there was room for my suitcase a mere two rows behind my own,  the seat next to me was empty, and (most importantly!) we arrived 45 minutes early. Even with the inauspicious start it wasn’t terrible after all!

Readers, what are your tips for a smooth business trip?


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