A business traveller's life is not an easy one. Days without seeing the family, in a rush to arrive, queues of people, hanging around airports, racing after taxis, lonely hotel rooms... However, business travellers usually believe that travelling is positive and it's even one of the main reasons why they like their job. Travelling provides them with the chance to grow professionally (and personally) and ultimately to get away from the monotony of office routine.
Experience is a plus and, as time passes, each traveller accumulates his or her experiences and forms their own list of lessons to be learned in order to travel better. For you, we've gathered together some maxims we've picked up (with minimal variations) from many different frequent travellers.
- Packing is an art. Knowing what you're going to need and how to minimise it is an asset, especially if you're flying and don't want to check in luggage. Small luggage will save you time and stop you from staggering around like a mule in the airport terminal or trying to get a taxi.
- Always carry a small first aid kit in your luggage. Everyone knows what they're prone to, so you know best what to take. Ibuprofen for a headache, stomach protectors, fruit salts or plasters for blisters... They're all superb candidates for your basic first aid kit.
- If you're flying, always check in as early as you can. If you're expecting to do it in the old-fashioned way (at the airport), then you'll more than likely get the worst seat. And that's more important than you think, if the flight lasts longer than 2 hours…
- We all know that taking a taxi, especially when abroad, tends to be a source of discussion and sometimes you get the feeling you've really been taken for a ride. To avoid misunderstandings, get an idea of the route you're likely to take before you go. You can find out on Google Maps and save it.
- Always take out travel insurance, especially if you go abroad. You never know what might happen. A lot of credit cards offer insurance that covers your briefcase contents; basic but very useful should you have to renew your documentation. Depending on which countries you travel to, don't forget that health issues might not be covered and roadside assistance is also useful if you're driving.
- You should know your company's expenses policy but also use your common sense when it comes to deciding whether it's worth spending some money. If you're going to take a 10-hour flight, it might be worth paying a little more to have a better seat. If you're going to have to change 3 times to get to your hotel by public transport, perhaps it's worth paying for a taxi. You have to know how to manage money but also how to spend it wisely, when it comes to your health or comfort.
- And when it comes to recalling important information, remember that your Smartphone has a camera: take a photo. This can be useful for remembering where you parked, the details of a business card or your receipts for your company expense claim (although there are notably better alternatives for the latter case).
- If you're a frequent traveller, it's worth joining all the loyalty schemes offered by airlines, hotels, etc. Once you accumulate a certain number of points, your level will increase and you'll be offered interesting bonuses. However, a lot of organisations will reward you just for belonging to their scheme.
- Plan your free time before your trip. Of course you're on a business trip and you're going to work, but you're also going to have some free time. In fact, that's the great thing about business travel. It's up to you to know how to make the most of the time. If you at least know what's on, what's worth visiting or simply where you should eat, you just have to cross your fingers and hope you have a few moments to yourself.
- And the last but very important tip: keep calm. You can't control all the factors of your trip. If your plane is delayed, if you come across a traffic jam or any other obstacle, try to take it as best you can. If you can't do anything to resolve the situation, try not to make it worse by getting all worked up.
If you travel frequently for business, you'll surely have your own list of tips to share. Don't hesitate to share some with us in the comments!