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It is projected that there will be approximately 457 million business trips per year within the United States by 2024, with women making up an increasing proportion of this number. Between in-person meetings, on-site office visits, and lecture circuits filling the calendar, business travel can become quite chaotic without a well-crafted plan.
When growing a business, life on the go often becomes commonplace, as you move from one professional event to the next. However, as business travel begins to resume to pre-pandemic levels, it is helpful to keep these best travel practices in mind to improve the experience.
1. Be strategic when planning travel
Entrepreneurship comes with a certain level of flexibility that allows flying during “break times” to save costs and reduce crowded flights. It is often cheaper to book travel in the early spring or fall than during the high seasons of summer and year-end holidays, although do consider booking spring break and other major holidays.
Also, when possible, book flights at the beginning of the week as opposed to the weekend as they are often less expensive and may have better flight times. Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to have the lowest airfares while saving around $85 on average. Furthermore, check current carrier policies. Many now offer flexible flight changes and cancellations with either airline credit or a refund if plans change, helping to keep options open.
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2. Packs efficiently
Creating a checklist is an easy way to track and pack exactly what is needed for a business trip. Consider events on the agenda, such as conferences, meetings, and social hours. Pack multi-layered pieces that can be worn more than once and outfits that can be coordinated with the same pair of dress shoes, because shoes often take up the most space.
First, lay out all possible clothing options. Next, reduce your packing list to essentials to avoid having to check luggage and possibly incurring additional costs. Next, roll the clothes to make more space and use packing cubes to optimize space. It’s also smart to invest in a travel steamer, especially for delicate fabrics. Additionally, choose a laptop bag or handbag that can be used to store electronics, as well as a small toiletry set to save space in the bag as well.
3. Prioritize comfort on flights
When traveling on multi-hour and/or overnight flights, stay comfortable while you’re in the air to feel better prepared once the plane lands. Once you board the plane, wear comfortable clothing to avoid wrinkling and staining of work clothes — and to help settle in for relaxation. Moisturize the skin and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and look refreshed. Also, wear a sleep mask and listen to a meditation or nighttime noise app like Calm or Headspace to make it easier to snooze. About an hour before landing, get back into your work clothes, freshen up and order a strong cup of coffee to start the flight off right.
4. Choose the perfect accommodations
When working on the road, housing can make all the difference. Check for high-speed Wi-Fi, a separate work station, and other amenities like a coffee maker and in-room refrigerator, especially for longer stays. There are certain hotel chains geared up specifically for business travelers, and Airbnb hosts are also updating their spaces to accommodate those on the road.
Additionally, when booking accommodations for conferences or client meetings, choose a place to stay within walking distance or a short drive of where it is being held to avoid having to rent a car or risk getting stuck in traffic.
Related: 5 ways to make business travel more productive
5. Practice self-care
Traveling can be stressful, and with a 9-5 not set as an entrepreneur, it can become difficult to spend time on self-care. Indulge in the hotel’s hot tub or spa, if available, or schedule a massage or pedicure nearby. Even if you take a few moments at the end of each day to stretch, a cup of tea and a break time to relax can help with a sense of calm. Paying body travel fees can increase the likelihood of physical illness and mental exhaustion. Aim to get eight hours of sleep, stay hydrated and eat as healthy as possible, even when you’re away.
6. Mix business and pleasure
It is often difficult to separate the fun time when traveling for work. However, set specific calendar times to explore a new restaurant or take a walking tour when visiting new cities. Time blocks can be useful when prioritizing work deadlines and also make space to make travel comfortable as well.
Keep in mind, as you bring “leisure” (for business and leisure) travel into the mix, be sure to keep track of the expenses of each. Create a spreadsheet and organize receipts and business expenses at the end of each day to ensure accuracy. Keep a separate folder for receipts or store them digitally with accounting software for easy access at tax time.
Being on the road to work requires careful coordination and strategic efforts in order to maximize time and create the perfect experience. To maximize time and enjoy the experience, these tips to consider can serve as reminders of how to get the most out of your business trips.