1. Make Your Clothes Multi-Functional
Of course, if you’ve traveled for business before, you know it’s practically a cardinal sin to check your bag; with so little time on your hands, you want to be able to snatch your bag out of the overhead compartment and head directly to a taxi, not to baggage claim. But your back and the stewards and stewardesses will thank you if that bag is as light and as small as possible. The best way to do that? Pack clothes, shoes and accessories that are double or triple threats.
A solid colored short sleeved dress shirt, for instance, can be made appropriate for the office with the addition of a cardigan, while it’s also right for that night out with colleagues later on. Necklaces, scarves and belts are all great ways to easily change the function of your clothes to suit the setting. And there’s no need to bring a set of pajamas if you can sleep in pre-workout gym clothes. See what we’re getting at here? The more each item can do, the less you’ll need to pack as a whole. And the more you’ll love your oh-so-light carry-on.
2. Know Your Airports
Whether you’ve only got a short layover or you’ll be camping in the airport for the long haul, it can be helpful to know where all of the best airport services and amenities are located ahead of time with the help of a map or online guide. This is especially true if you’re trying to eat healthily on the road and want to look up menus. If you’re a member of a mileage program, you may also be able to access to that airline’s private lounge, though whether or not the lounge is any good in that airport is also something you’ll want to research ahead of time. This Airport Lounge Wiki is a good place to start.
3. Pack the Most Lightweight Devices Possible
Just like with your carry-on suitcase, it’s a good idea to pack the most lightweight devices possible. That is, unless you would prefer to lug around a heavy, full-sized laptop rather than a superlight Ultrabook or Tablet. Not only are these devices easier on your back and shoulders, but they also take up less space in your laptop bag. So you’ll have more room for all of those travel goodies you’re bringing back for the kids (right?).
That said, while they’re certainly convenient, both slim laptops and tablets aren’t so great for your wrists, fingers, neck, back, and really, um, most of your body. Tiny, straight keyboards force your hands into an unnatural, pronated position. And a lack of tactile feedback often means that you’re pressing the keys far harder than you should. Trackpads and swiping gestures also wear on your wrists and joints. However, that’s all easily fixed with ergonomic mobile accessories, like a travel keyboard and mouse and a laptop and tablet stand, which will bring your screens up to eye level. Combined with your devices, these accessories will ensure you create a comfortable mobile workspace. Your fingers (and wrists and back and neck) will thank you!
4. Pack Healthy Snacks
Staying healthy on the road is a huge challenge, as you often have little control over what’s on the menu. This is as true in a train station as it is on-site, where they might only have a vending machine stocked with junk food for staving off hunger while you work overtime. But there is one thing you can do to take back some of this control: pack your own healthy snacks for emergencies. This could be anything from nuts, trail mix and dried and dehydrated fruit to all-natural protein bars or anything in between. They may not be your favorite, but it certainly beats a bag of greasy chips in a pinch.
5. Get Your Travel Plans Electronically Organized
Business travel often involves balancing a lot of logistical details, whether that’s flight and train times, tickets, meeting times and locations, hotel bookings, contact information, car bookings — the list goes on. That’s why it’s highly advisable to get it all organized ahead of time on your smartphone. An app like TripIt is great for this. It requires you only to forward each booking to the app and it will organize it for you. However, if you want to do it on your own, a combination of Dropbox and Google Drive can also be highly effective as a central organizing area.
6. Don’t Over Schedule Yourself
When you’ve landed in a place where you used to live or where a bulk of potential or current client contacts are based, it’s tempting to overbook yourself with touchbase or networking meetings and events on top of your day-to-day work. While these are both certainly important activities, it’s important to take steps to avoid burnout, just like you (hopefully) would at home. A good strategy for this is booking aside some personal time on the calendar that just says “busy” so you can take a little time to recover. Alternatively, you could try limiting the number of evening commitments you have and packing in more lunch meetings instead, or vice versa. Or, schedule appointments early for things like massages or a spa session, so you’ll already have something on the books when someone tempts you with something new.
7. Maintain a Routine
Just like with healthy eating, you often don’t have much control over your routine when you’re on the road. You’re subject to the whims of the scheduled events and your clients. However, it’s important to stick with at least one or two aspects of your routine so that you can retain some normalcy. Working out in the morning is a good example of this. Even if you have to get up early to do so. Or, drawing a hot bath in the evening or relaxing with a good book.
Business travel can be exciting and is of course important for your career, but it can also take a toll on your body and mind. With these tips, you won’t just survive your business trips — you’ll thrive!
What do you do stay happy and sane on your business trips? Let us know in the blog comments.