Business travel is an essential part of life and yes, it can be exhausting. Last year I had thirteen business trips – conducting sales calls and attending trade shows. Then there is the choice of keeping up with the workload while on the road, or tackling it when returning to the office. Guess which option I choose – yep! I choose to keep up with the workload while traveling. It was one of my most exhausting years ever! However, I was able to stay on top of everything and not miss a beat!
Those who know me know I am a fanatic about staying organized. Everything has its place and purpose. This is essential when meeting with clients or making presentations. I make sure that my laptop is fully charged and carry a power pack just in case. In addition, I have a HDMI cable to connect into projectors for PowerPoint presentations.
My briefcase contains the basics: laptop, i-pad (easier to use on a flight) phone charger, headphones, USB Wi-Fi stick, a portable hard drive, post-it notes, highlighters, lots of pens ( I am always misplacing them), a mini stapler and paper clips. Yes, I am a walking office supply store!
Plan Your Meeting Ahead of Time
I am a notorious for planning my trips in advance and making sure all the details are mapped out. On a typical day of sales calls, I will plan no more than 4 calls and 1 client dinner/cocktails. This gives me the time to not only make a presentation to the client but also allows time to have a through Q&A session. The client does not feel rushed and is at ease. The benefit for you – minimal stress. Ahhhh!
Generally my trip is planned out a week in advance which includes shipping any collateral, giveaways etc. to the hotel where I am staying. I always include a return shipping label so I can ship items back without any hassles.
By planning ahead will make you more efficient and productive. You will gain time to respond to any emails from your clients back home, keep caught on projects and still have time to relax and unwind.
Be Prepared For Any Unplanned Downtime
When traveling, plans often change without notice. A client may need to cancel or reschedule a meeting. Now you have some extra time in between meetings – the key is not to return to your hotel room – but rather find a spot where you can be productive.
Here’s how I stay prepared:
I always have my i-pad (I splurged and purchased the Wi-Fi package) which is easier to use in public than my laptop. I also map out Wi-Fi friendly cafes in close proximity to my hotel and client offices. I am always prepared for the unexpected!
Set Up Your Hotel Room
The first thing I do when I check into my hotel room is unpack. Whether it is 1 day or a 4 day stay, I always unpack so it does not interfere with my work later. I also lay out my clothes the night before so I don’t have to rush in the morning (I am not a morning person). It also allows me to iron my clothes if wrinkled.
The next thing I do is setup the desk area for work. I charge my laptop, i-pad and phone and unload my travel office supplies. I do keep the TV on in the background when working because it helps me concentrate (a throwback to my college days when I kept the radio on). This may not work for you.
Track Your Expenses
Though there are apps to track expenses such as Expensify, I am old school. I keep an envelope. I paperclip each day of expenses so when I am ready to submit my expense report; all the receipts are in order.
To learn how stay on track with your budget when traveling click here.
Workout – Even For 30 Minutes
Always pack your sneakers and gym clothes and look for a hotel that has a gym or provides access to a nearby gym. I have found that even when I work out for a minimum of 30 minutes I am more focused and productive. I am more relaxed and alert. If there is no gym, put on your sneakers and walk a block or so around the hotel.
Business travel is exhausting, but is also rewarding not only in terms of spending time and establishing relationships with clients, but also in terms of building a strong network. These clients will eventually become wonderful allies in business. Remember to make time for yourself – talk a walk – indulge in a treat and simply enjoy!