When it comes to working in business, you love every aspect of the job — from writing up business plans to coming up with exciting new product ideas and gossiping with your colleagues over the water cooler (or over Slack, if you’re in a remote team). You love living a busy life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with challenges. When it comes to going on business trips — which are an opportunity to make new connections and discover new places — there’s a lot of potential, but also a lot that can go wrong, like having nothing to wear to your meeting upon arrival because the airline lost your bag.
To make sure you don’t have any slip-ups and at your best for your business trip, you’ll want to follow these tips:
1. Be smart about packing
As mentioned above, you definitely want to avoid the nightmarish situation of having anything really important lost. So even if it’s a business trip lasting longer than a couple of days, make sure you pack anything you can’t risk losing or need in the first few days of your trip in a bag you take onboard. This means outfits for your first two days, your phone and laptop (especially the ones where important files are saved), chargers, medications, and any makeup or lotions you usually use should all go in the carry-on.
That way, even if the airline loses your bag (it’s common; airlines lost or temporarily mislaid 21.6 million bags in 2016) you’ll be prepared for your first couple days of meetings before your luggage arrives. For more travel packing tips, check out this list.
2. Keep track of your spending
If you’re a business leader yourself, you know how important it is to keep track of your spending, and this is especially important when you’re traveling. Temptation to spend is especially intense while one is on the road, with an average of $33 spent a day on food alone. Obviously, if you’re meeting with colleagues it’s reasonable to buy a couple drinks; that’s mixing business with pleasure. But otherwise, make sure you track your spending on an app like Spendee and research public transit options and deals on sites like Groupon before you go.
If you’re going for work and getting paid back for some of your expenses, we expect you’ll be tracking every single expense down to the penny — which is why we recommend Expensify, an app that syncs with your credit cards and scans receipts to make getting your money back even easier.
3. Make connections
Sure, you’re in a new city and meeting new people, and that can make anyone a little nervous — especially if you have to give a presentation on something important like a new product or HR policies, too. But like anything in business, you have to view this moment as an opportunity. After all, it may give you the chance to land a job in the future or even just make new friends in an exciting city.
So make sure you go out with everyone after work, get to know as many people as you can, and collect business cards. Once you’re back home, make sure you connect with everyone by writing an email regarding something you talked about and how welcoming their office was. And don’t forget to add them on LinkedIn — with more than 467 million users, it’s one of the best ways to connect with professionals, and they’ll be able to take a look at all your work experience, too.
4. Give yourself some time to relax
Finally, even though you’re there on business, you still want to give yourself some time to kick back, if your schedule allows for it. And reward yourself, too, with fun new experiences at your destination. Studies demonstrate spending money on experiences makes you happier than spending it on things, so ask what people recommend you do whenever you’re visiting a new spot, and feel free to invite a few colleagues, too.
5. Keep a positive attitude
Finally, whenever you’re traveling, whether it’s for business or a family vacation, you’ll want to maintain a positive attitude. With the added stress of missed flights, leaving necessary files at home (even though you should definitely add them to your list so this doesn’t happen), and making a good first impression, it’s going to be an emotionally intense time. Just remember to smile, and if you have time, do some exercise, too. Exercising for only 20 minutes benefits your mood for the next 12 hours, which means you’re sure to kill it in your presentation if you work up a sweat beforehand.
As long as you follow these tips, you’re sure to have a fun time, make great connections, and get ahead in your career. Remember that traveling for business is an opportunity — so take advantage.
Where is your next business trip taking you? Is there anything you’re nervous about?