Traveling for work in the upcoming months? Prepping for a business trip — especially an extended business trip — can be stress-inducing. Not only do you have to make travel and lodging arrangements for your destination, but you're also faced with making sure that your home and belongings are safe and secure in your absence. Check out these 11 business travel tips that can make your trip stress-free so you can focus on your job.
- Check Your Company's Business Travel Policies
- Make Sure Your Passport Hasn’t Expired
- Book Your Lodgings Early
- Keep a Packed Essentials Bag Ready to Go
- Book Non-Stop Flights
- Research Your Destination
- Print Your Travel Documents
- Keep Your Home and Belongings Safe in Your Absence
- Explore Subletting Your Apartment While You're Gone
- Pack Healthy Snacks
- Take Photos of All Receipts
1. Check Your Company's Business Travel Policies
Before you do anything else, check your company's policies regarding business travel to make sure you follow all the approved guidelines and procedures, including where you can book your trip and lodgings, what needs to be pre-approved, allowable expenses, and any perks — such as access to airport VIP lounges — you might be able to use during your travel and stay.
2. Make Sure Your Passport Hasn’t Expired
If you’re heading on an international trip and haven’t traveled abroad in a while, check your passport to make sure it won’t expire during your trip. To be safe, ensure that your passport will be valid for at least one month after your planned return date. Now’s a good time as well to apply for Global Entry, which can cut down on your wait time in customs and security lines. Some credit cards (like Chase Sapphire Reserved and Platinum Card from American Express) actually cover the Global Entry application fee as a perk.
3. Book Your Lodgings Early
The sooner you settle where you'll be staying, the better off you'll be. Booking early, especially for extended-stay trips, allows you to take advantage of special discounts and perks and can help you decide what you need to take with you and what will be provided for you at your destination. Be sure to check out your full range of options, including corporate apartments, extended-stay motels, and short-term rentals for longer trips.
|Tip: If you’re preparing for an extended stay (one month or more), look for lodging with a small kitchenette equipped with a hot plate, basic cookware, fridge, and microwave so you can prepare quick meals and store leftovers. Hotels with free breakfast can also help you save money so you don’t eat into your per diem allotment.|
4. Keep a Packed Essentials Bag Ready to Go
If you frequently travel on short notice, pack a carry-on bag with essentials so you're ready to pick up and go. Include your favorite toiletries and travel gadgets (check our list of best travel accessories to inspire you), as well as basics, such as underwear and socks. When you get the word to go, you can add a few wardrobe items and your documents and be on your way.
|Tip: Pack strategically. Check the weather at your destination so your wardrobe suits the climate, and include both business and casual clothes. Remember to tuck in special creature comforts, such as a portable coffee maker and your favorite coffee beans. And for added security, tag all of your bags with a Tile or AirTag so you can track them if they happen to go astray.|
5. Book Non-Stop Flights
If possible, try to book non-stop flights to reduce layovers — or worse, rushing to miss connecting flights. The possible extra expense will pay off in a less stressful flight and fewer worries about lost bags. Plus, if all goes well, you may even be able to catch a nap.
You can use Google Flights to help you filter out non-direct flights, but going to the Wikipedia page of your closest departing airport and scrolling down to the “Airlines and destinations” section will show you all the cities with direct flights, organized by airline. For example, at the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, Delta Airlines flies direct to Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City, and Seattle/Tacoma.
6. Research Your Destination
A little research can help you learn what to expect in your destination city, from the typical weather to where to find the best ribs in town. Read travel blogs, review sites, and the local chamber of commerce website to get insider information on where to stay, shop, and hang out during your downtime. Don't miss the ultimate city guides on our blog to learn more — the best neighborhoods, restaurants, sites to see, and things to do while you're there.
7. Print Your Travel Documents
Print out hard copies of your plane tickets, hotel reservations, insurance, and any other important documents and carry them with you in an easily accessible bag. Likewise, a paper copy of your itinerary and/or conference schedule will help ensure that you don't miss any important meetings. Get a handy travel document organizer that’s small enough to keep in a larger bag and is easy to tote.
8. Keep Your Home and Belongings Safe in Your Absence
If you'll be away from home for more than a few days, take steps to keep your home secure in your absence. Stop mail and newspaper deliveries, as well as any subscription services that may be delivered in your absence. Arrange with a friend to drop by regularly to water plants and check in on things. You might consider moving more valuable items to temporary storage so they'll be out of harm's way.
Don’t forget to unplug appliances, close and lock your windows, clean out the fridge, and take out the trash before you leave. If you have smart lights, consider putting them on a timer to make it seem like someone’s home.
9. Explore Subletting Your Apartment While You're Gone
If your lease allows it, consider subletting your apartment — or listing it on Airbnb — to reduce your ongoing expenses while you're gone. Having someone living in your home will make it a less likely target for thieves and ensure that someone is on the premises to deal with day-to-day emergencies. Check out our guide to starting an Airbnb business for useful tips on prepping your home before renting it to someone else. You can also try a home-exchange platform or network like Kindred and HomeExchange that allows you to swap living spaces with remote workers, digital nomads, and other business professionals.
10. Pack Healthy Snacks
Don't rely on airline food to get you through your travel. Pack your favorite healthy snacks in your carry-on bag and keep them handy to power you through any flight delays or long flights. And speaking of healthy travel tips, make it a point to get up and stretch your legs during long flights to keep your circulation moving.
11. Take Photos of All Receipts
Keeping track of your expenses is essential, especially if you'll be submitting expenses for reimbursement. Snapping photos of your receipts, or requesting digital receipts, is one way to make sure you have all the documentation you need when you're ready to submit your expenses.
Traveling for business doesn't have to be stressful. A little pre-planning and research can make your life easier before, during, and after your stay. To make it even easier, download our pre-travel checklist to help you organize and make sure you don't miss anything important.