Your First Business Trip The odd thing about business travel is to some extent, it is a mixture of what you know the very strange. The business you are going out to do you know how to do. Whether it discussing a new business project, developing a software product or attending a seminar or conference, the business part of your business trip is probably not the hardest part. But if you are new to business travel, there are some aspects to it that are very different from travel for leisure and ways to prepare for the trip that will make or break whether it goes well or you come home frustrated in your efforts. Just like any business venture, the key word for success in this venture is preparation. Above all, have your business program well organized and ready to use when you get there. If you are giving a presentation, have it finished, the PowerPoint slides prepared and tested and all of your equipment ready to go when you set out. The sheer fact that you are prepared for the work you are going to this new city to do will relieve your tension tremendously. But preparation doesn't stop just in planning for a successful business effort. Do your homework about the place you are going and how you will handle the trip once you get there. Here are some key things you should think well in advance about to assure your trip goes well. * Your plane flight. As soon as you know your destination, book that flight. The earlier you nail that down, the more you know you will have a flight and that your choice of seats is assured. This can make business travel by air much less stressful. * Driving in a new town. If you are going to drive in a new town, be sure you have maps and know how to negotiate the roads. It's a whole different world to drive in Boston compared to driving in Kansas City. If you can avoid driving, make sure your ground transportation is arranged ahead of time. * Accommodations. Obviously, book your hotel well in advance to assure you will have a room when you get there. Only in situations where you are not sure where you will end up should you put this off. The last thing you want would be to need a room at 11 p.m. and everything in town is booked up. * Extraordinary needs. If you have medicines or other needs that are going to require special planning, get out ahead of that too. If there are business needs you will require upon your arrival, you can ship things ahead for yourself so that equipment is waiting in your destination office when you arrive. * Dealing with security. Remember that homeland security at airports is tight and the rules change from time to time. You can usually find the current restrictions and ways the airlines will allow you to travel on the internet. By knowing this in advance, you can avoid a lot of heartache when you get to the airport. * Money. You don't want to have wads of cash with you when you travel but think ahead about how much cash and other monetary needs you should have. Travel with plenty of credit at your disposal. Emergency situations on the road can be defrayed with good credit or you can find yourself in a real jam without it. If you are traveling overseas, become familiar with the monetary system you will be using there. * Things you take for granted. Little things mean a lot. If you have creature comforts you need in the hotel room, think about them and pack such things so you can feel as at home as possible. Something as small as your favorite pillow or a scented candle to relax you can make all the difference in your ability to rest and be ready for business the next day. By doing plenty of good planning, you can assure yourself that you have what you need on the trip and nothing more. This will become more natural as you travel more. But take the time to prepare well and prepare early so as you venture forth on this big adventure, you know you have covered every base before you left home. Your Business Trip and Your Diet Business travel can be a productive, enjoyable and even exciting experience. The time you spend doing business in other locations expands your business reach and scope and broadens you as a person as well. Getting skilled at business travel is a solid business goal because there are skills related to business travel and being productive on the road that are impossible to learn if you don't get out there and travel. Many of the skills associated with business travel have to do with how to live productively on the road. This is especially important if you find yourself on a lengthy business trip. The life of moving in and out of hotels, traveling by car or airplane and the stresses of the work can wear down even the most robust and experienced business traveler. Maintaining a healthy diet while traveling for business is a serious challenge and one that really can only be accomplished with some serious planning. You will inevitably find yourself eating in a lot of restaurants on the road and that kind of food does not lend itself to a diet that is designed for weight loss or for a diet you must maintain for health reasons. The first but biggest step forward to achieving diet goals while traveling is to communicate your desires to your traveling companions. In a business setting, there is often a lot of encouragement to eat and drink well. Everybody is on the expense account so it is easy to overdo it. But if you let your coworkers and clients know you have compelling reasons to maintain a disciplined diet, most of the time they will respect that and find ways to help you be successful. Another trick of business travel is not to depend on restaurants for your meals entirely. If you can get out to a market early in the trip and purchase some fresh fruit and vegetables, you can prepare some healthy food in your room to fill you up and keep you on track. Then if you find that you must eat in a restaurant to discuss business with coworkers or build relationships with the client, your appetite will be low so you can get by on much less. You can also be a voice for moderation in the selection of eating establishments for your meals. Obviously, fast food is not going to be a good choice for you. So if there is discussion about where to stop, you can vote for a place that serves a good variety of meal choices including some healthy choice menu options. In that way if you must eat in a restaurant, you can find items to order that can be prepared in accord with your diet needs. You will be surprised how many allies you will find both in your travel associates and with those you are doing business with at your destination who have diet goals but have not been successful because of the temptations of the life on the road. Your open statement of intent to stick to your diet in spite of the rigors of business travel can be a tremendous inspiration to them. Moreover, by building partnerships in your intent to live healthy, it is entirely possible to take your business to a healthy restaurant or deli and allow the rest of the party to go to a place of their liking. As long as this is done without animosity, everybody wins. Avoiding alcohol and snacks can be a huge challenge on the road as well. Very often in a seminar setting or during a long day of discussions, the host company or office will provide cookies or other snacks to help the meeting go well by keeping everybody's blood sugar up. These snacks are going to be hard to resist. One way to help yourself in that situation is to be prepared with your own snacks in your brief case to bring out to substitute for the unhealthy food being provided. By thinking ahead about your diet needs and how you will provide for yourself while traveling, it is possible to sustain a healthy lifestyle even during business trips. By supplementing theses steps with exercise and rest, you may find that your weather the trip much better than those who abuse their bodies and find yourself more productive as a business person as well because you made the effort to eat well on the road. Where You Sit DOES Make a Difference When you are booking a business trip, there are a lot of important decisions to be made. Obviously, the important issue is your business objectives and that everything you need so the business you will do when you arrive comes off well. So you will spend the majority of your efforts on those preparations or so you are well equipped for the trip. But to use the old phrase, it's the little things that mean a lot especially when you are enduring the inconvenience of business travel. You put up with a lot of inconvenience and having to accommodate the needs of others in airports where everybody wants to be comfortable. Little things mean a lot on a long business flight from how well you eat to the kind of car you rent on the other end. Just a small surprise or accommodation along the way can set put you in a good mood on the trip and that mood could even influence the outcome of the meetings you will conduct when you make your business contacts at your destination. Some people do not have a preference where they sit during the plane flight. But there are a number of issues that can become significant during those hours where you are essentially immobile as you fly cross-country. Some of those are. * If you are claustrophobic, having a window seat isn't about sight seeing. It can be a sanity saving necessity to keep you from focusing on the enclosed airplane space. * If you wish to work, you need some space to spread out. * Some medical needs might require easy access to the privacy of the laboratory, if for no other reason than to take medicine without being observed. * If you have close connections and are on a tight deadline, sitting near the front of the plane helps with getting off quickly. To get some control over the variable of where you are sit en route to or from your business trip, put some thought into the issue up front and see if you can reserve the seat that suits your purposes before you ever get to the airport. If you use online reservations, you can get a map of the plane, which will show you which seats are open. This gives you excellent ability to move your seat so you can sit just where you want before you go to the airport. Some factors to take into consideration are the room you need and whether you need to recline your seat or not. The seats on the exit row are almost always more roomy. In exchange for being willing to open the door in an emergency, you can gain twice as much room as you might have had which pays off when you want to work during the flight. The last row of the airplane does not recline. The upside of that row is that you don't have anyone behind you to kick your seat back or bounce the tray table as they do whatever it is they are doing back there. By the same token, the first set in the section does not have seats in front of it so it can be roomier. But you may not have a tray table to use to set your laptop on for work. These are trade offs worth thinking through in advance. You can have your travel agent know your preferences when they book your flight. But don't miss the chance to make changes as late as the day of the flight. You might spot a row that is not full and be able to grab a seat and have the row to yourself. And that, in airline travel economies, is pure gold. Walking in New York Business travel can be enjoyable and a productive activity. The steps you take to assure your meetings are a success are the same you will do back at your home office. But they are made more complex by the act of "taking your show on the road". But sometimes the challenges of business travel involve how to handle your personal affairs efficiently and safely even as you focus on your business affairs. Business travel can take you to many different destination environments. In the same business travel year, you could find yourself on the beaches of Miami, in the exotic cafe's of San Francisco or in a heavy urban center such as Philadelphia or New York. As a business traveler, your goal is to make your stay as uneventful as possible. But businesses travel can be dangerous. Just because you are on the corporate expense account, that doesn't mean that those who would victimize travelers will pass you over. So it's important you have a plan to assure your safety on your travels. Probably one of the most vulnerable experiences you may have is finding yourself on foot in an urban setting. Whether you are just taking a walk or you find yourself on foot to return to your hotel, if that short walk occurs after dark or in a setting where you feel there might be a risk, it can be a very disconcerting feeling. So it's good to have some techniques to take yourself out of a risk category should you find yourself in that situation. In my travels, I found myself in New York quite often. New York is a town where walking from place to place is not that uncommon. So an experienced business traveler gave me some good advice on how to walk about in a town like New York and remove yourself from danger even before it befalls you. These tips can be useful in just about any urban city in the world. And when you have some good ideas about how to navigate such a situation, your confidence level goes up. Some of my friend's tips included: * Don't stare up. Don't look like tourist by staring at the tall buildings. Walk like someone who has been here for years. * Don't take out your wallet. Get to an indoor location to look at your wallet. Don't give anyone a signal of where your valuables are on your person. * Walk with intention. Walk as if you are late for an appointment. Be in a hurry and impatient with others on the street. Look slightly irritated and in a hurry. Don't look like a victim. * Don't make eye contact. In an urban setting, the others on the street are not people to you. Don't look at them or give them a chance to get your attention. Look bored. * Keep an escape route. If you are walking on a sidewalk, you can walk very close to the street. Keep an eye on the street itself. If you sense the rush of an assailant, you can dash right into traffic and disrupt moving vehicles. It is guaranteed that no mugger wants to carry out his crime in that situation. * Make a fuss. If you see a situation evolving that could be dangerous, create a stir on the street. Get in the middle of the biggest and noisiest situation you can find or create. Noise and crowds frighten off assailants every time. These are simple rules but they can be used in almost any urban setting you may encounter. So keep these guidelines tucked away. The moment when become useful won't announce itself. So if you are ready to walk in New York, like a New Yorker, your ability to stay out of danger will pay off. Traveling Safe for Business One of thing that you notice when you travel with a seasoned business traveler is that they have habits worked out after dozens of business trips to make sure they don't have trouble on the road. Learning to be safe in this world has to become second nature for all of us. When you learn to drive a car, its second nature to buckle your seat belt and check your blind spot when you change lanes. But early in your life as a driver, you learned the need for those precautions, sometimes the hard way. We don't want to learn the rules of traveling safe on business trips the hard way. When you are on the road for business, you are just as susceptible to danger or accidents as any tourist. The difference is that as you have become "professional" at traveling to accomplish your business goals. And those safety measures that you have to focus on at first become second nature. Let's look at some key safety precautions that must become part of that discipline of travel. Avoiding crowds goes a long way toward taking you out of situations where thieves might lurk. Not only that, it makes life on the road so much easier. Check in lines may be one of the most frustrating rituals we have to go through as we travel. And it is a place where thieves can "case" you because you have your luggage there, you often open your briefcase or purse and take out your wallet to show id. So too avoid the check in line entirely, use your computer at home to log in and check the status of the flight so you don't have to go to the airport too soon if it is delayed. On your home computer, you can move your seat if possible and you can print your boarding pass and other important check in documents. By getting all of this done at home, you can skip the check in line entirely and proceed directly to the gate. Your homemade boarding pass will get you through security. If you have baggage, don't overlook the convenience of street side check in. There you can check your bags quickly. Show your boarding pass and your bags are safe as you head off happily to find the coffee shop to relax before your flight. In addition to getting away from crowd situations at the airport, think about securing your financial information before you even go to the airport. For one thing, you many of the cards and documents in your wallet do not need to go on the trip. You don't need your ATM card, your library card or your social security card. You only need one credit card and your driver's license. So go through your wallet and cut down on what you are taking on the road. It helps you travel lighter and safer. But don't stop there. In addition to removing cards at home so they cannot get stolen, also remove valuables from where thieves would expect to see it. Put most of your cash and credit cards in your checked baggage or on a money belt under your clothing. You can still carry a wallet but it will only have enough cash for the day of travel and no additional documentation. If you needed your driver's license or credit card for check in, go to the bathroom and tuck them away. Along with these precautions, stay in a state of awareness about your personal effects as you travel. Watch your purse or briefcase and keep your head up at the terminal so if you see suspicious behavior, you can stay away from it. By keeping your own safety at a high priority, traveling safe will become second nature. Travel to Foreign Shores International business travel is rapidly becoming common to work out deals and to organize international partnerships. The economy is becoming more global as the world becomes "flat" due to increased communications and the rise of the economies around the world. No longer are businesses deals assumed to occur only on a national scale. To look at the business community as an international neighborhood is in step with the markets of this century. And that means that you could easily find yourself flying overseas to conduct the business of your company. And international travel takes some preparation. Long before you book your flights to travel overseas, you will need to get your documentation in order so you can pass through customs and get on your way. Due to increased security, an up to date passport has become essential to even travel to adjacent countries. Due to the increased requirement of passports, it takes longer to get that documentation together so plan early to secure your passport so you don't come up short when it is time to conduct your overseas business. Also, keep in mind that a visa is required to travel to some countries. So when you set up the business meetings, find out from your contact at your destination country what is required. To get a visa, you will need to have had your passport for at least six months. In addition, you will need an original copy of an invitation from your host in the destination country. Those documents will be taken to the local embassy of your destination country to get your visa issued to you. So plan these steps if a visa is necessary for your trip. Next to the legal documents, health issues are second in priority to attend to for a successful business trip. You may need to get your vaccinations up to date for certain destinations of your trip. Consult your doctor so you are ready. Do some preparation for the unlikely chance that you will have a health emergency overseas. This is a place where travel insurance is a good idea. If you are hurt or have a severe illness overseas, you will need that kind of assistance to get medical care and to get moved back home for long-term care. Also be sure your medical documents are available and copied in several places should you become separated from them. You want to be able to access insurance information, emergency contacts, information about medication you need and emergency contacts even if you loose everything overseas. One way to do that is to scan critical documents and store them on the internet in a folder that you can get to from anywhere in the world. Use much of the same travel savvy that keeps you safe traveling domestically when preparing to go to a foreign country. You probably do not have knowledge of the town you are going to and where the safe places are to stay and dine and what neighborhoods to avoid. You can use very current travel books and internet information to learn that kind of "street knowledge" before you leave. But nothing replaces a local contact. Use your business contacts on the other end of your travel plans to advise you on not only where to go but where to avoid when coming into town. Your contact in the foreign country you are traveling to can also give you insights about how to handle transportation and security in his or her country. Hailing a taxi may not work the same over there as it does here. And you want to avoid getting into a vehicle that is not a legitimate carrier who may not take you where you want to go or should go once they pick you up at the airport. Also, spend some time learning local customs and methods of communication. Be aware of how you act, stand and use your hands as you could without knowing set off a dangerous situation. For example, the thumbs up sign in western cultures means affirmation and success. But in the Middle East, a thumbs up is the same as showing the middle finger is to us. You don't want to flip off a policeman in Saudi Arabia just because you didn't know that. Tipping as a Business Strategy Tipping is an odd practice primarily because it is common and expected in some professions and not at all in others. As adults, we become accustomed to tipping in the normal day in day out activity of our business and private lives. But when it comes to tipping on a business trips, its best to think about the use of tipping as a common courtesy in light of your business trip and how it can be used to benefit you during the trip. To do that, think about the tip as a practice and why we tip. For the most part we do it because it is expected. If we think about how we tip at all, it is in the context that the tip is part of the server's income and we want to help someone who did a good job for us. But one of the best justifications for tipping comes down to nothing more than building a low level business relationship with the server so you can expect good service the next time you need it. On a business trip, you develop a lot of very short lasting relationships. But you want the best from those who can make your trip and your accommodations enjoyable and uneventful. So if there is a hotel restaurant that you will be eating in each day, you know you will see that waiter and the staff of that restaurant again. A good tip policy can go a long way to assure that your service will be top notch every time you dine in that restaurant. This same principle applies to leaving a little tip for the cleaning crew who takes care of your room. I had a situation in a fine hotel where I wanted the staff to leave me more than one package to make coffee in my in room coffee maker each day. Sure, I could have gone out and bought my own coffee. But on a business trip, you depend on being served so you can focus on your mission. So I left a note to the cleaning crew along with a nice tip. Each day I had more than the number of coffee packages left for me. Everybody wins in that situation. Tipping is not a difficult skill to master. When tipping for a meal, you can write the tip directly onto your bill. Now when you order room service, there may be a question as to whether you should give the delivery person a tip for bringing the food. Often room service charges a fee for the service already. So in theory, you don't need to tip that person. But remember, you may want good service in subsequent nights or in future stays. So slipping a tip to that delivery service person just to make sure they know that you appreciate good service makes sense. When tipping taxi drivers or the hotel doorman, it's appropriate to fold the money in the palm of your hand and hand it to him or her in the form of a handshake. If they are holding the door for you, they will look down to see you are giving a tip when your hand moves out. That moment of contact is important so they look at you and know you recognize their good service and remember you for future reference. The amount of tips is pretty much standard. 15% is a standard tip for most meals or for the taxi drive. $1 per bag is standard for a doorman or bellhop who is helping you with your bags. Now if you only have one bag, it might be a good idea to bump that up a bit. Never tip with change, always with folded bills. Preparing for tipping as you travel is part o your preparations. You should assure you have plenty of small denomination bills even before you leave for the airport, as it is common to need to tip shuttle drivers and waiters at the airport or even the stewardess on board the airplane if you buy a drink from her (or him). As your business trip progresses, keep an eye on your cash levels so you have plenty of spare cash for additional tipping. Business travel is a tipping intensive experience and you should be prepared so you don't find yourself embarrassed and unable to reward those who make your trip more enjoyable along the way. The Wear and Tear of the Road There is very much a difference between business travel that may last a day or two or even a week compared to the life some business people must go through who travel continuously for weeks or months on end. But it is a necessity of some areas of business that professionals representing that business do stay out on the road for a very long time. These road warriors are examples of people who understand the wear and tear the road can cause on the body, mind and spirit after months of continuous travel. As humans, we are designed to have homes and nest. So the life on the road runs against that natural instinct to settle in one place and rest there. So the first challenge of traveling continuously is finding ways to replicate a "normal life" despite the constant travel. The one factor that can help with combating road weariness is the psychological factor of familiarity. Because business persons who travel for many weeks may not see the same people for very long and often move from city to city, the hotels and restaurants eventually begin to blur into one place and the desire for the familiar and "home" starts to make itself known. So one way to provide that sense of sameness is routine. Even on the road, one can establish a routine that you can look forward to each evening. Whether that means watching the same television shows, scheduling your calls home at the same time each day or week or establishing hotel room rituals, by maintaining a "sameness" no matter where you are living at any given time gives the traveler that sense of normalcy that is missing in a life of nonstop travel. Oddly enough, role models for living successfully on the road are some rock and roll bands who have been living such a life for years if not decades. If you examine their approach to touring, the ones that live that life for very long learn quickly to avoid substance abuse and live a healthy lifestyle. While the typical businessperson doesn't have to get up and perform on stage for thousands, it is important to sleep well and see your digestive systems and regularity remain stable during the constant change of travel. That may mean establishing an exercise regime that you simply do not break. A morning run followed by a sauna and a light but healthy breakfast not only can get your day off on the right foot, it can confirm your routine and that you are in charge of your lifestyle on the road, not the hotel or the circumstances around you. Another lesson we can witness from professional musicians who travel a great deal is an intense devotion to professionalism. For the musician, they are on the road for one and only one thing, to put on great shows for their fans. That focus can keep them centered for long periods of time. We can translate that focus to what we are about as we set out on a long business journey. By focusing on what we are on the road to achieve and give that 100% of our best efforts, that will give us validation when we find success at every stop along the way. Musicians who learn to survive the road learn to take care of each other and use a sense of family and mutual support to get through a tough tour schedule. If you are traveling with others from your business, that same mutual support can go a long way to toward helping each you survive the experience. Talk openly about the challenges of traveling for such lengthy periods of time. Form an accountability structure to your professional friendships so each of you is looking out for the other. If you can get everybody out for that morning jog, soon your ability to work as a team goes beyond just how you function during meetings but you become a mutually supportive team in getting through the rigors of an aggressive business travel schedule. By looking at the challenge of surviving the wear and tear of the road as one of life's great adventures, you can gain an energy and a resolve to win each and every day of your business journey. And that resolve will be contagious for your fellow business travelers which translate into greater success in your business ventures during the trip as well. The Tale of the Trip One of the things that makes business travel appealing is the fact that your company covers your expenses with your expense account. Since you are on bona fide business for the sake of your business, being reimbursed for the costs of the trip is routine in the business world. Now we don't want to abuse the expense account but if you live in a reasonable fashion on the road, you can get reimbursement for most expenses of the trip. But problem about getting reimbursed for your business travel expenses is that you have to file a report when you get back. While it seems like a nuisance, you cannot expect the company to reimburse you for expenses if you don't know what they are. But this calls for a certain amount of discipline on the road so you have some documentation as you travel that you can use to compile that expense report when you return. There are some things you can do to make this process of managing that expense report less of a headache. For starters, before you leave, make sure you are very aware of the company's expense policy and what is covered and what is not. Some companies use a per diem system which means that the company may allocate you a set amount each day for room and board and anything you spend above that is an expense you will cover. If your company uses the per diem system, make sure you know it well so you know what you can expense before you run up the charge. Keeping track of businesses expenses on a busy trip may become a nuisance as you travel. But you don't want to get home and not be able to document the trip. The good news is there are some simple systems you can put in place that don't take a lot of your time but will make keeping those business expenses tracked and ready to report for reimbursement when you return. They include: * Use Credit. Your credit card statement can be a running "tale of the trip" that can serve as emergency backup should you need it. * Receipt retention. It is easy to lose receipts if you put them in pockets with other documents or let them float loose in your briefcase. Maintain a daily envelope that you religiously put receipts into as soon as you get them. That can ride comfortably in the inside pocket of your jacket or in your briefcase so you know you have that record of your spending. * A running log. Even if you keep receipts, you can get home and find the task of sorting through them and trying to remember details about that expense can be a challenge. Make it a daily practice to sit down at night with a small notebook and go through your receipts and make a ledger of what you spent that day and on what. * For when you don't get a receipt. Carry a pocket notebook and jot down when you spend cash or don't get a receipt for an expense. Tips or snacks needed to get through the day should be recorded in this way. * Lock those receipts down. Just as you kept your receipts secure during the day, put them someplace secure at night so they will be locked down until you return. Sealed envelopes work well for this purpose. If you want to take the system to the next level, you can actually bring an expense report form with you and fill it out each day as you go. Then when the trip is over, you just sign it, bundle up the receipts and submit it to accounting. For an even more secure method, you can use Microsoft Excel on your laptop or a digital version of your company expense report to update each night as you move your receipts to storage for the rest of the trip. The important thing is to develop a system that works for you without fail as you travel. Then make your dedication to that system a priority as you travel. Putting some thought and effort into managing the expenses of your trip will save you a lot of headache when you get home and help you enjoy that expense account and your business trip as well. The Nightmare of Jet Lag Business travel is tiring even for relatively short trips. The work of moving through airports, dealing with delays, handing your baggage, finding transportation at your destination city and getting to the meeting are a much greater stress than you ordinarily go through doing business at home. But when you add the problems introduced by jet lag, you face physical distress that can almost feel like you are becoming ill as your body reacts to the long distance travel. So it's a good idea to have some techniques ready to use to prevent jet lag when you are traveling overseas or across several time zones. Yes, you can get jet lag just traveling from the east to west coast domestically. Jet lag comes from the change in time zones and the adjustment your body has to make to deal with the new time cycles in that time zone. We are not aware of it but our bodies are finely tuned to work at their best in the time zone of our homes. Our biological clocks are tuned to react to the time of day, the daylight and nighttime cycle, environmental factors and the magnetism of the local environment. We have an internal monitor that tells us when we should sleep or be active based on that internal clock. When we travel to a new time zone, while our mind finds it peculiar that it is a new time of day that is out of sync with what we know, our bodies go through quite a dramatic adjustment to adjust to the new environment. That is why in a new time zone, you may not be able to sleep when it is 11 p.m. where you are because to your body, it may be the middle of the afternoon or the next morning. The symptoms of jet lag are fatigue, lack of appetite, shortness of temper and even a feeling of mild nausea that comes from an internal system that has been thrown for a loop. So the best cure for jet lag is good preparation so you can ease into the change of location without too much anxiety. By reducing the effects of jet lag before they even happen, you make the potential that your business meetings will go well much more likely. * Start adjusting in advance. If you can put yourself on the time frame of your destination a few days in advance, the jet lag won't be as severe. Start adjusting your sleep times and when you take your meals even before the trip begins so you are already "living in that time zone" before you even make the trip. * Keep a clean diet. Jet lag experts advise that you simplify your diet significantly for several days before the trip. Begin to reduce the amount of heavy foods, carbohydrates, sugars and fats in your diet and increase the level of fruits, vegetables and juices you consume. This will make your system more nimble and able to adjust to change. * Give yourself time on the other end. Try to make arrangements to arrive a day before your meetings so you have time in your hotel room to rest and prepare for the business objectives to be achieved. * Eliminate physical stress sources. During the stressful time, try to cut down on physical stresses such as drinking or extreme physical exercise so your body has more reserves to handle the jet lag symptoms. By thinking ahead about jet lag, you are taking the measures you need to take to eliminate a threat to the success of your business goals on this trip. So your work to take jet lag out of your business travel equation is just good business on your part and it will result in more success on the road for you and for your company. The Airplane as Your Office Business travel very often involves long hours in flight to the city where your work will be done. For most business people, this is lost productivity time that can be torture if you cannot get work done in flight. How often have you said to yourself or to a coworker, "That's all right, I will just work on that on the airplane." That is a noble intent but circumstances inside an airplane cabin, especially in coach, can make the fulfillment of that commitment hard to accomplish. Like anything else, if you are going to redeem the time while you are in the air, you should come prepared with an agenda of work you can get done in that setting and with your expectations well in check before you even check in. Let's face it, the cabin of a domestic airplane is not designed for business productivity. You may have a myriad of distractions from crying babies to a talkative neighbor. The airline personnel have quite an agenda of items to interrupt your time with and then there is the turbulence and the narrow seats that dictate that whatever you are going to get done is going have to be done in a place of very little space availability. To expect that you will have the seat next to you to spread out your work or that this will be the flight of perfect peace and quiet is to set yourself up for frustration and disappointment. So to be prepared to achieve some level of productivity on an airplane, be aware of these limitations and design your work so you can use that time within those constraints, not in spite of them. A basic necessity to use to realize some level of concentration in flight is a good set of ear plugs or an earphone and an ipod. You can use that device to pipe music to your mind that can be conducive to concentration and thought. Now earphones sufficient to block out the kind of distractions you will encounter on an airplane will have to be pretty sophisticated. So don't cut corners on this purchase. It will pay you back over and over as you use them to block out surface noise in airplane cabin. The best way to walk off of that airplane with a sense of accomplishment is to set your goals before you board and make them goals you can attain. You cannot expect to be able to open up your laptop and work peacefully in coach. It is very possible you will be able to do that but you may find turbulence, an active population around you or other factors may make such work very difficult to do. So to be sure, prepare a project to work on using your laptop but don't be disappointed if it turns out to be too difficult to attempt. And above all avoid having a deadline you have to hit using the time during your flight to make up for lost time on your deadlines. That will only make the flight frustrating and result in an angry and worn out business traveler. The best form of work you can assign to yourself is analysis or reading. If you have a document or some documents to review, the confines of an airplane seat accommodate that work just fine. Business reading is easily the best form of work to do in flight. Using those head phones to block out the world, you can lay back with a book, a business magazine or a report and take your time to study it or read lengthy blocks of that material during a long flight. In a two to three hour flight, you can read entire chapters of a business book and come off the flight with a tremendous amount of food for thought to take into your businesses meetings at your destination. It is possible to redeem the time in the air by accomplishing some solid work. But the key to getting success at that goal is to be realistic about what can be done in an airplane seat and tailoring your expectations and goals accordingly. If you do that, you will be happy with how you used the time and the flight will go by much more quickly as well. Take the Family With You Business travel can be rewarding, interesting, profitable and broadening for the business traveler. But there are some downsides to the life on the road especially if you must travel for business often. Besides the occasional airport delay or layover and the ever present issue of how weather affects your business trips, it is always hard to say goodbye to your family as you go out of town to accomplish the mission of your business trip. For many business people, one solution is to take their family with them on business trips if the nature of the trip will accommodate such arrangements. Few would deny the road weary business traveler the joys of having family with them on a challenging trip. And for your family, not only does this mean more time with you, it can be a big adventure for everybody involved. Taking your spouse on a business trip is entirely different scenario than if you are planning a trip to include the spouse and children. In that your spouse is an adult, can rent a car and plan a day without help and mold his or her schedule around yours, a spouse can be a huge plus to you because you have that familiar face to greet you in the hotel room when you return from your business affairs of the day. And there is a strange vicarious enjoyment to be had as you are working hard to know your spouse is taking in the pleasures of the local area which you will hear about that night. Taking the kids on a business trips gets to be more of a logistical challenge and there are some real limitations to the kind of trip that will work as a full family outing. One of the big factors in determining if this trip is a good one for the whole family to enjoy is location. If the trip is to a popular destination such as Orlando or California where your spouse and children can find plenty to do each day, then it's a good situation for bringing the family along. Other locations that make great choices to include the family are historic and memorable cites such as New York, New Orleans, San Francisco or some of the great overseas destinations like London, Paris or Rome. If the children have your spouse to guide their tours, those trips with you can be events to remember and tremendous learning experiences that they will be talking about to their grandkids decades from now. Obviously, the time of year for your business travel is a determining factor on whether the children can tag along. Summer business trips work well for such plans but if your travel will interrupt the children's school schedule, it usually is not feasible to include them. Now in a case where there is significant educational benefit to the trip, there may be some concessions to be made to the children out of school if they will gain valuable experiences from the trip. But all of these factors, including just including your spouse on the trip will hinge on one important factor that only you can determine. And that is how much time you will be able to spend with the family when you are working and traveling. It is well known that business travel also frequently means long yours and then business dinners and negotiations that can go into the night. If you are going on a trip that such dedication to the task is necessary, it's best not to bring the family. It does them no good to come along on an exciting business outing only to find themselves never seeing you until the flight home. They will feel frustrated and you will wonder what value there was to the expense and trouble of bringing them if you could not enjoy them except to kiss them good night in their hotel beds and good-bye in the morning. But if all of the factors fall into place, taking the family along on an occasional business trip can take a humdrum trip and put some real fun into it. So keep your eye on that business travel agenda you have. There may be a few junkets where the family would fit in nicely.
Staying Healthy on the Road You can tell an experienced business traveler from one who is new to the experience. It is easy for someone new to business travel to participate in excesses on the road. As business traveler, you are an adult and you are trusted by your company to conduct yourself in a businesslike fashion during your time out representing the firm. But it is easy to let the idea of an expense account and free time in a far away town get the best of you and to let yourself go as you travel. These kinds of excesses are the types of behavior that you will see an experienced business traveler avoid. If you are setting out on a lengthy business trip perhaps lasting many weeks and traversing many cities, the road itself can take a toll on your health and well being. The disruption to your normal life patterns, the hard work and the stress of making connections and moving from town to town can introduce levels of fatigue that can take a toll and even lead to illness on the road. And there is no more unpleasant experience than to be ill while traveling for business and to still have to do your duties despite your poor health. It is for this reason that observing some strict rules of good living on the road will pay off over the life of the trip and make the rigors of travel much less serious. Much of the discipline of business travel involves simply introducing a daily routine to your life that includes some healthy activities so you can keep your physical, mental and emotional state in good shape and ready for business each and every day. Some simple but effective rules to live by for a healthy business travel experience include: * Sleep routines. A good nights sleep is something we take for granted. And to get into a rested state takes more than just a bed and an alarm clock. You have routines at home that you use to cycle down toward rest. Adapt those to life on the road and allow yourself that hour before bed to get ready to rest as well as ample time to rest as well as sleep. Both are necessary for good health. * Regular exercise. Most hotels have an exercise room or pool you can use to get some motion into your muscles. Sitting in airplanes or conference rooms can cramp your muscles and keep you from maintaining good flexibility. Even if it is nothing more than taking a walk after dinner or doing some simple exercises at night in the hotel, give your body some movement so stretch those muscles and get some fresh oxygen into your blood. * Time not working. For the sake of your mental health, take some time just for you. If you are in a town that has some fun things to see, get away from the business side of business travel and go to the zoo or a museum or see an attraction to give your mind a break from the stress of business. And take a few hours at night to relax in the hotel and read a book or watch your favorite TV show. You need that mental down time to recuperate and process all that is going on during your trip. * Good foods. Don't cave into the temptation to eat fast food. Look for restaurants that will serve you well-rounded meals. Make sure you eat fruits, dairy, vegetables, breads and good healthy proteins each day. * Don't drink. Alcohol, while fun, is a huge drain on your body's resources. The time drinking and recovering makes demands on your body that take away from your stamina and ability to stay healthy each day. So avoid alcohol other than perhaps a glass of wine at night. You will survive the trip so much better if you are careful about your alcohol consumption. Some of these ideas seem almost ridiculously simple. But if you have done any business travel at all, you know that sometimes the simple requirement of a healthy diet and some time to yourself to exercise and rest can be elusive in a busy work schedule. But if you make it a priority to live well on the road as you do at home, you will come home ready to deal with home issues without having that long time to recover from the trip. Never Completely Out of Touch The problem with business travel, to put it bluntly, is that you are not in your office. If you are a manager or a project leader, your need to stay in touch with your team and what is going on at all times is crucial. It would seem that this need is at cross-purposes with the idea of business travel. But with modern technology and a bit of coordination on your part, you can maintain a reasonable level of connectivity to your important projects and team activities even while driving in the rental car or waiting out a flight at the airport. The actual technology you use to stay connected may change over time. Whereas in the past we could only use pay phones at airports, we have evolved technologically so you can travel and access your network via your cell phone, wireless PC or an assortment of other devices. So the first step is to identify the type of technology that satisfies your need for connectivity as well as enabling you to work productively in diverse locations such as the airport, your airplane seat or your hotel room. As you conduct a technical review of the available technology, be careful to research the durability of the equipment you are taking on the road. You may be able to afford the most sophisticated equipment on the market today. But if that equipment cannot survive the rigors of travel including being banged around in your luggage, exposure to heat, cold and moisture or just about any other harsh condition you might throw it into, it isn't going to be the kind of equipment you want by your side on a long business trip. Once you settle on the equipment, you should configure it or have it configured for internet access as well as the ability to tap into your corporate intranet and network. It is crucial that you can communicate with your team and access corporate files so you can stay on top of what is going on with your projects at home. For example, if you have your project team file status reports each Friday morning, you must be able to review those and give directions for action items to take that come from those reports quickly and efficiently, even if you are on a ten hour flight from Europe. To manage your phone contacts, the idea of just putting the "out of office" auto-answer on your office message service is so last decade. Instead, you can forward your office phone to your cell phone and receive your phone calls in remote so you can conduct your business as though you were on site throughout your trip. There is adequate technology available currently for you to be able to access and operate your desktop computer back on your desk at the office even while traveling. One such service is gotomypc.com. But there are many such services or your IT department may have a methodology to enable that access that you can use if you get them involved in your trip planning. By accessing your PC daily or several times daily, you can activate your instance of Microsoft Outlook or whatever your email software is and read and respond to important business emails as you relax in your hotel room after your business meetings out of town. These are just a few of the technologies that make it possible to perform virtually any function from remote that you could have done only in the office in the past. So don't accept the limitations of the road. Investigate how to be fully connected as you go about your business travel and the outcome will be that you can keep all of your important business projects moving forward simultaneously. Moving Through Airport Security Quickly Ever since homeland security has become such an issue, moving through airport security has become more difficult. As a seasoned business traveler, this part of your business trip requires some savvy preparation and your knowledge of the system so you can sail through security at the airport as quickly as possible. But the ability to navigate airport security quickly is not something that comes easy or without some significant planning and training. The biggest problem of getting through security is not you, it's the other people who did not come prepared for this process. If you get stuck behind someone who is completely stumped by what is expected of them, it can take forever to get through the system. So the first priority is to hit airport security when the crowds are low. The easiest way to accomplish this is to take the first flight of the day out of that airline. This will be the time when there are fewer people in the airport than anytime of the day. Usually it is only business travelers who are at the airport at six a.m. so they will be the ones that already know how to handle security and the lines will move much more quickly. Like them, you have already learned the most recent rules about what will pass through security and what will get you stopped. You will need your driver's license and boarding pass several times as you move through the process. So have that out early on and ready to show it often. Don't put that information away until you are on the other side of security and ready to go to the gate. That one-step alone moves you along quickly through the different checkpoints of airport security. Usually airport security uses a queuing system to handle the crowds. That means that usually it is one long line moving up to the gates and then that line splits into several gates where various teams work the travelers through the scanning stations. As you are standing in line to go through the gates, keep an eye on the different stations. Some stations will stop more people or their equipment is too sensitive so it is moving slower. You may notice that a new team has arrived and is preparing to open a new station. With a bit of maneuvering in line, you can hit that new station as it opens and move through fast before the lines accumulate there. This is also a place to do a bit of profiling. While it is not ok for police to profile, you can look over the people ahead of you and profile those who will either be detained for scanning or will be a big problem when they are ready to put their stuff on the belts. Certain ethnic groups might get scanned more often. It's sad but true. We all want racial equality but if you can avoid being behind that person, you might get through security faster. Also, avoid "amateur travelers" who have lots of kids, the elderly, people in wheelchairs or anyone who looks like they are confused by this process. You can be a hero and help someone out if you have plenty of time. But as the lines split up to go to the different stations, you can simply avoid being behind people who will slow up the process and go to the fast lines to get through more efficiently. You can cut down on how much you get scanned before you get to the airport. Wear slip-on shoes that you can get off quickly and back on quickly. Boots and tie shoes just slow you down. Keep the amount of "stuff" you are carrying through security to a minimum. Put your wallet, keys and other pocket material in your briefcase or purse before you even get in line. In that way you are down to shoes and that item to move through security and you can move more quickly. These tricks of the trade can make the beginning of your business trip much less of a problem and get you to the gate more quickly. The security personnel will appreciate that you know what you are doing and you will reduce your stress and move along to your business goals with less anxiety and a greater focus on your objectives. Light on Your Feet Its one thing to show up at your business meeting prepared mentally for the meeting and with all of your business needs at your fingertips. If that was all business travel entailed, that would be challenge enough. But to carry off a successful business trip, you have to think about your personal needs, medical needs and everything you might require. The ability to travel light on a business trip is truly a refined skill that takes into account the ordeal you might go through at the airport, the potential for lost baggage and what you really do need once you get to your destination. Many travelers have a firm ethic about not checking bags. The result is you see almost a comical effort by travelers to drag huge bags onboard and jam them into overhead bins. As a business traveler, your ability to relax and pass through the airport system with little fuss is paramount. When you take bulky bags on board on an airplane, you exchange the time at baggage claim for a huge hassle in getting your bags on and off that airplane. It's best to balance what you really need at your destination with the problems of taking too much on board. To reduce your anxiety about baggage claim, leave plenty of time between your travel plans and your business appointments at your destination. If you have several hours or a day before you must make your business contacts, you can relax and go through the baggage claim process without anxiety. The other problem with baggage claim is lost luggage. So to assure you will have the basics when you get to your hotel, lost luggage or not, pack a very small bag to take on board. In that bag, only take your basic requirements. Include your medications, contact lens supplies, sample sizes of toiletries, underwear and one change of clothes. Then you have what you need for one night and the next days meetings while your baggage catches up with you. To pack light, do a good inventory of what you really do need. There are some economies you can utilize to greatly reduce the bulk of what you are going to take without sacrificing your needs and ability to look good when you make your business contacts. * Wear a basic outfit. If you have a suit or other garment you know will be your anchor piece, wear it on the plane. You can also wear a coat or jacket that you might need there and then fold it and use it for a pillow on the plane thus keeping it out of your bag. That coat is not considered part of your carry on but it helps you reduce your baggage bulk. * Economy of space in your bag. Compress what you pack and use every empty space. Pack socks into shoes and roll your clothing rather than lay them flat to squeeze the empty air filled space out of them. You can always iron and get pressed any outfits that get wrinkled in route once you are at your destination. * Mix and Match. Take outfits that can be used over again with a different pant or shirt combinations. * You can get it there. Don't take anything that won't get guaranteed and frequent use. If there is something you might need, remember, you can buy it there in a drugstore or nearby store. So don't let anxiety make you over pack. These steps can reduce your packing problems and result in a workable travel system that will reflect that you are well organized and ready for the road. And there is no better feeling than to come home and realize you used everything you took and needing nothing else while you are on that important business trip for your company. Is Now a Good Time to Panic? The unfortunate thing about business travel is that, unless you are able to fly by private jet, you will have to use public transportation to travel any significant distance at all. That means you are going to have to deal with airports, security procedures, crowds of "non business" travelers around you at all times and the inevitable delay or canceled flight. As a business traveler, you have a mission to complete. This is not necessarily an adventure nor is it something you are doing for fun. Its business and you handle it as business. If you travel frequently on business, you have a standard process you go through to handle waiting for flights and how to store and retrieve travel documents when they are needed. Most of time we had handle the presence of large crowds around us. After all those families on vacation, groups of teenagers on spring break or young couples on honeymoon have as much right to the airways and the airports as you do. But everything changes when flights begin to get canceled, especially if you are in a situation where so many flights are canceled and large amounts of people are going to be stranded in that airport overnight. When such a situation begins to loom, it is easy to sense that feeling of panic rise up as you sense it happening in those around you. Inexperienced travelers may have no idea how to handle this situation. But as a business traveler, you are there doing the bidding of your company. You probably are on an expense account of some sort and you should have good credit that you can use to navigate this situation. So if you see an airport shutdown situation happening around you, you may ask yourself that question, "Is this a good time to panic?" The answer is no. But it is a good time to act fast so your needs are met. It is always a good idea to keep your wits about yourself in an airport situation so you can take action early if you see an airport shutdown situation beginning to happen around you. The thing to remember is that you are the one in control here and you do not have to let yourself be put at the whim of the airlines or the airport. But detecting the crisis coming early is the key and taking quick action. Often as flights begin to get canceled, you may find yourself in long lines to try to rebook flights or find a solution to the problem. Realize that if the airport is stopping all flights due to weather or other reasons, there is no resolution waiting for you when you get to the front of the line. And staying in line will only add to your sense of crisis and panic. So get out of that line! You have resources to make accommodations for yourself. The last thing you want is to have to pass the night in that airport. If you can get another form of transportation, you can still get to your destination albeit a little late. But rental car agencies are going to be flooded with people who, like you, are looking for a solution. So the earlier you can diagnose the situation as not acceptable and get a car, the faster you can leave the airport and head for a hotel or for your destination. Use the same strategy in booking a room at a nearby motel or hotel. If you can get to private accommodations for the night, you can work, make your phone calls and preserve your energies so you are able to conduct business well once the crisis is passed. But the key is don't panic, devise a solution quickly and put your plan into action efficiently so you can redeem as much of the day as you can because of your wise use of resources. Insider Tips for Business Travel As with any area of specialization, there are business travelers who always seem to know what they are doing and those who constantly seem to be in a state of crisis. The business traveler who has been at it a while figures out some insider information that not many travelers know. These little travel secrets make the world of difference when traveling. And you can bet they are not going to share this information with just anyone because this is the kind of information that can change the nature of your business travel forever. Your laptop is a crucial piece of equipment as you travel. In an airport emergency situation, your wireless laptop can be used to change reservations so you can avoid those long lines to get on the next flight out. You can reserve a rental car or snag one of the few remaining hotel rooms in town right from the comfort of a seat at the airport. Then the savvy business traveler can casually stroll to his or her designation as others around them panic because they knew how to leverage technology and the internet to bail themselves out of a crisis situation. But one aspect of using your laptop to rescue yourself when the airport is in shut down is the limited power of laptops. To see your battery go dead just when you needed it the most is like watching your ship sink as the sharks circle the lifeboat. What not many people know is that there are open electrical outlets in airports that are there for cleaning crews if you know where they are. Usually these outlets are just under the windows that overlook the landing strips so if you can secure a seat near these outlets, you can charge up your laptop and keep your lifeline to the world alive. Business travelers also know how to take full advantage of resources that are made available to business travelers exclusively. Find hotels that cater to the traveling businessperson. These hotels will not have amenities for families nor are they trying to bring in busses of teenagers on the way to camp. So you can find a hotel with much fewer young people making noise and being a nuisance when you are trying to focus on business. In addition to using businesses that cater to the business traveler, take advantage of frequent flyer and priority clubs that many airlines and hotels offer. If you are going to travel a lot, you can rack up some credits on those clubs, which can result in upgrades to first class, better accommodations or free services when you stay at your selected hotels. They win because they capture your travel dollar. You win because you get pampered for a while. You can gain a lot of convenience and reduce your hassles by using a less popular airport to come into town. By utilizing an airport in a smaller town near by and renting a car, you get out of the congestion of traffic and can drive to your destination without that exposure to the masses all pushing and shoving to get through the major hubs. Extra copies of travel documents can speed things up a lot especially if you are leaving the country. Often when you are going through customs, you must surrender your passport so the customs agent can make a copy. So you make a copy before you get there and give it to them. With a quick scan, they can confirm that it is a legitimate copy and have you on your way much quicker. Don't overlook how public transportation can bail you out of dealing with a lot of traffic in large city situations. In Washington or New York, the subways work exceptionally well. If you can get out of the airport area via mass transit, you can find a rental car location in town and conduct your business with less wait and without the traffic jams you would face at the airport. Plus airport rental car sites are more expensive than those in town. These little tips can go a long way toward making your trip less of a hassle, less expensive and more successful. By knowing how to get around the big crowds and use the resources made available to business travelers, your trip will be more efficient, more relaxed and more successful. Flying Into Danger It's not something we like to talk about but bad things happen to good people, even good business people who are just out on the road to pursue the prosperity of their company. But in some cases, there may be some real travel threats on your route to your business destination. This is especially true today in the age of terrorism where a trip to Europe or the Middle East can mean some very real danger may loom as you travel. It is our job as responsible adults to think about the dangers that could happen on an upcoming business trip and assess that danger and either approach the business objective differently or prepare accordingly. The first step if you suspect that your next business trip may be hazardous either from political unrest, bad weather or other reasons, is to do an honest review of the importance of this trip. If you can accomplish he goals of the trip without putting yourself or your business associates in harms way, that would be preferable to a potential disaster on the road. If it looks like the trip is still a go, be sure you learn all you can about your destination, recommended safety precautions and the nature of the potential danger. The US State Department keeps their web site up to date on the nature of potential security risks at http://www.travel.state.gov. The next step for preparing for a business trip that may be hazardous is to double and triple secure your documentation. You can make copies and scanned images of your important personal documents such as your passport, visa, driver's license and other crucial identification cards that you must have overseas. By leaving copies of these at home where a contact person can access them and uploading digital copies to a public folder that you can access anywhere you can find the internet, you give yourself a safety net should those documents disappear. Also review the status of your travel documents and get y our renewals done now if there is any chance one of them will expire as you are out on the road. If you are traveling to one or many foreign countries, make yourself familiar with the location and phone numbers of the US embassies in those countries. By having that information on your person as you move from country to country, you are ready to move swiftly should you need to call on them to help you out of a jam. If you do encounter trouble and require medical help, you should have on your person your crucial personal data that can be used to quickly get you help. You can print up a card with your name, names of who to contact in an emergency, blood type, medical details such as allergies that should be noted, important medicines that you may have that can help you if you are in physical need and anything else a lay person might need if you are in a far away place in critical need. For even more security that this card is able to communicate your critical data, you can have it translated into the language of the country you are visiting so there is no delay as local health or public service persons work to get you help. The more you do to prepare for your trip, the better prepared you will be to respond to trouble or even avoid trouble entirely if it occurs. By understanding the local customs and what to do in an emergency situation overseas, you can respond calmly and quickly to crisis and secure yourself, your business associates and property early and quickly. Then if danger does rear its head, you will be well prepared to lesson its impact on you. Controlling Business Travel Costs Sometimes when we are traveling on business, it is easy to let costs get out of control. But if you are working from a per diem or have other constraints on your travel budget, you should learn some cost cutting methods that you can put into effect that won't make your life miserable on the road. These cost-cutting ideas are not just to stay out of trouble with the budget people back at the home office. Often businesses have a set budget for business travel and once it is gone, no further trips can be made during that budget year. So if you anticipate the need for more business trips in months ahead, it is prudent to keep an eye on costs as you go so you can conserve that limited budget to facilitate important trips yet to come. Economizing on the road can be difficult because you are put right in the middle of the hospitality industry which, while good at making you feel comfortable and providing for your needs, hotels and restaurants are also good at running up your tab. But there are some easy ways to sidestep a lot of unnecessary spending so you can stretch your business travel budget. * Eat before you go. Airport restaurants or snack bars are notoriously overpriced. So even if you are leaving early in the morning, have breakfast and get well satisfied before leaving home so you don't have to buy food en route. * Wise packing. Think through your life in the hotel and on the road. You can buy travel sizes of almost everything you will need. Moreover, you can pack some light and easy to carry snacks such as trail mix, candy bars or nuts that can be used to tide you over during the trip until you can get a good meal. By being self-dependent during the trip, you save a lot by not using airport services. * A hotel is just a bed, a shower and a TV. When booking your accommodations, think about where you should stay. If you don't need a luxury hotel, don't book one. If you are just staying the night in one place and then moving on, a clean, well run motel can take care of you just as well as the executive suite at the Hilton. * Share that ride. If you are traveling as a party or you are meeting business partners at the destination, you can share cabs or rental vehicles and save business costs as well as conserve on burring fossil fuels unnecessarily. * Markets and delis. You can even eat economically in a big town like New York or Orlando by using the same sense you have at home. By taking an early trip to a nearby grocery, you can stock your room with fruits and travel foods and cut down on the amount of meals you have to eat out. * Public transportation. If the town you re traveling to has safe and workable subways or other public transpiration, that can be much more efficient for you than renting a car. Washington DC for example has outstanding rail transport that you can use rather than rent a car. By using some of the same good common sense you use at home to keep expenses under control for your home budget, you can not only live inexpensively on the road, you can actually live better. And by not allowing yourself to be overcharged for some very basic goods and services, you will feel better about your business outing and become known in your company as a smart traveler. Business Travel on Short Notice In any travel situation, the further in advance you can plan your trip, the better you will do on all of your accommodations. But in the world of business, it often occurs that you have to get to a destination immediately and the ability to move swiftly is critical to the success of the business goal. The good news is that you can do some preparations well in advance for short notice business trips so you are not caught completely without a plan. You don't want to have to flounder around about how to book a flight and where to stay if the business journey looms suddenly and immediately. Short notice business trips seem to be endemic of certain industries and job descriptions so if you know you will go through this drill often, you can make some arrangements far in advance so you have a checklist of just what to do when you find out that you must be at your destination virtually immediately. First of all, in a short notice travel situation, economy takes a second priority. Your employer knows that if you have to book full fare on an airline to get to your destination at a specific time, the higher expense is unavoidable. Make sure that your company travel policy has some clauses to put aside travel budget limits in such a scenario. The part of the trip where you will have the least "wiggle room" will be airline accommodations. Of course, you can use the big internet search tools like Travelocity or Orbitz. In general, those are good places to start to find what airlines do have flights at your specified times. But once you pick an airline, working through the airline's web site directly will show you the most options they can offer and sometimes provide you with better fares, even on short notice. Be sure you watch the travel details closely so you don't find yourself enduring long layovers that are going to jeopardize the tight timetable of the business meetings you need to attend. If necessary, spend the money on nonstop flights to assure that the business goal of the trip is top priority. Do your homework about hotel accommodations well in advance. If there are likely destinations that you could be called upon to go to quickly, you can do your research on the closest hotels to the business site so you cut down on commutes once you are there. By having your target hotels bookmarked and the phone numbers on file, you can quickly call and set up your accommodations in a matter of minutes. But if you find that your best choices for hotels are booked up on the days you will be at your site, call them anyway. A good hotel will call around to other hotels in the area and get you a room as close to your destination as possible. They can save you hours of frustration searching for a replacement room. Rental cars are usually not as much of a problem. It's a good idea to call ahead and get a reservation but short of a major convention or sporting event in town, there are so many rental car agencies that you should be able to find a car to rent even if you don't start your search until you are on the ground at your destination city. You can make other preparations for the possibility of a short notice business trip like having your toiletries and personal affects you always travel with packed and ready to walk out the door. By having your travel clothes ready to go, you can virtually walk home and walk out in a matter of minutes for a short notice business trip because you are that well prepared. Battling Travel Anxiety The classic anxiety story about travel involves being on the road for a while only to suddenly remember that you forgot to turn off the oven. While that is a domestic story, there is just as much or more anxiety that can go into getting on the road for a business purpose as there is for private travel. The details that must be taken care of to put a business trip on the road can be overwhelming. It is easy to develop an anxiety complex when going on a business trip and get to where you are in a constant state of stress and worry that you have forgotten something or that there is an important detail that was left undone before you left. This stress anxiety can be destructive to your business goals for the trip. So you need some basic concepts that you can go back to just before the business trips gets underway and as you get on the road so you have some ammunition to combat travel anxiety en route. * Call in the troops. One big way to stop travel anxiety in its tracks is to utilize your business partners to help you prepare for the trip. It is likely that a number of people in your chain of command or in your department have a vested interest in seeing the trip you are setting out to accomplish is a success. Use their help to plan the trip and to develop detailed check lists of what has to happen before you leave and what has to go with you. Then on the day before you depart, meet with those associates and review those lists. As you check off each thing, insist that your associate initial the list to validate that the detail was taken care of. Then take the list with you. By consulting it often, you can calm yourself that you did take care of all the details along the way. * Did you forget your head? Ok so you have a good system in to make sure all of your business needs are covered, the next level of anxiety comes when you are sitting on the airplane and you wonder if you packed everything you need for travel personally. There are a couple of antidotes to this type of travel anxiety. First of all, use a similar check list system to assure you have what you need on the flight. You can develop a travel check list that you maintain and update from business trip to business trip. As you use that list each trip, you will discover any missing items or things to do and update the list. And by checking each need off as you take care of it before you travel, you can calm that nervous system of yours that you have done everything so its time to relax. * What do you really need after all? Second of all, if that check list system has dozens of items and issues on it, much of that can be eliminated by that simple question. The truth is there is very little you really need that you cannot get there if you forgot something at home. You must have your airline tickets, your driver's license and credit card and any special medication that cannot be found at your destination. If you have plenty of credit, there really is little else you cannot buy at your destination point if you forgot something or other. Comfort yourself that the trip won't grind to a halt if you forgot something. * But what if? That question literally can drive you insane. If you let yourself start thinking about whether the plane will crash or if your dog dies while you are away or the hundred of other "what ifs" that might happen, you will turn into a ball of anxiety before the first flight is done. So the answer to "but what if?" is "that has not happened so far and the odds it will happen this time are remote." Use some logic and adult thinking to combat emotional urge to worry. The urge to worry is natural in all of us. Its part of your urgent desire to do well on the road. But make one of the things on that check list of things that must happen for this business trip to be a success just one word which is "RELAX". Are Travel Agents Obsolete? It seems you cannot watch television for more than an hour without seeing an advertisement with William Shatner talking about Travelocity or that silly gnome talking about Orbitz. These travel web sites have been very successful at facilitating travelers to book their own airline and hotel reservations online. So with this huge push from the internet to take over the travel industry, one has to ask, "Are travel agents obsolete?" If you have browsed some of these travel sites, you have observed that they are amazing in the diversity of travel options that they make available. And it is impossible to deny that many thousands of people have taken advantage of these services. As a business traveler, however, your needs are somewhat different than the typical airline passenger. There are some very specific services that a living and breathing travel agent can provide that simply cannot be replicated by an automated web site like Travelocity or Orbitz. Some of those services that a seasoned business traveler would be hard pressed to live without include: * Focus. You as a business traveler are not arranging this trip for entertainment. You have specific business objectives in mind. So if you must take time away from preparation for your business task to worry about travel itineraries, hotel and rental car reservations and the like, that is time that you are not being productive for your business. If you can call a talented travel agent who knows your travel profile well and delegate those arrangements to that agent, they do their job in finding just the right accommodations for you and you are freed to do what you do best, focus on your business and the upcoming business trip. * Economy. It is difficult to find that balance between finding the accommodations that fit the demanding schedule of a businessperson on the road and is respectful of the companies travel budget as well. If you use an automated online travel service, you may have to sacrifice convenience, schedule or location for economy. A good travel agent will work hard to get you the right itinerary while getting as close the corporate travel cost restrictions as possible. And they will do it without taking up a lot of your time. * Back up. You don't need help if your trip goes completely as planned. But if you encounter problems on the road, you can find yourself in need or rescheduling flights and finding new accommodations to work around canceled flights, weather issues or other unexpected interruptions to your plans. These travel disasters are not mindful of your tight deadlines to meet your business goals. But if you have a travel agent who is dedicated to providing you service, he or she can find those alternative routes and resources to do all they can to get you to your destination so you can conduct your business on time. * That personal touch. You may have travel preferences that you want to achieve with each trip you take. A travel agent has your profile and your travel history so they can do what they can to accommodate your preferences. But moreover, if you have specific special needs such as a diet limitation or a need for accommodation due to a disability, it will be a travel agent that sees to it that your needs are provided for and you are well taken care of on the road. * Complications. If your travel itinerary involves making connections with other business partners who are traveling from diverse offices, complex travel schedules and itinerary challenges that just cannot be described to the generic screens of an online travel service, you can explain these complications to your travel agent and they can work with other travel agents working to organize the meeting and see to it that your itinerary meets your requirements. While the online travel services do provide a valuable and affordable alternative to the general traveling public, it is easy to notice their limitations if you are trying to book a trip that is tricky or if you have specific needs that the screens do not anticipate. That is why working with a human travel agent guarantees that this travel professional will dedicate themselves to the task of making sure your trip works to your specifications and that you get to your destination ready to conduct business and be successful in your achieving your goals. A Corporate Travel Policy that Works It is a myth that employees who travel on business resent the corporate travel policy. The truth is that employees like to know what is expected of them and how to comply with a corporate policy as long as that policy is fair and gives them the ability to do what they need to do on the road. So a well thought out corporate travel policy is a benefit to the company and the business traveler alike. If it has been given to you to put together a corporate travel policy, your mission from the stand point of the company is to develop a policy that standardizes business expenses, eliminates waste and excess on the road and puts some controls around that part of the business expense picture. So there are some definite focus areas you should include in the stated corporate policy including: * Reservations. The business can utilize a travel agent that is looking for the best deal for the company. The best rates can be identified and taken advantage of but only while making sure the business traveler's needs and the business objective of the trip are satisfied. Requiring that employees utilize the corporate travel agent again is not unfair and it clarifies for the employee how to handle the situation. * Use of credit. It is a bit of effort and expense to set up corporate credit cards that you can require your traveling employees to use. But by trapping expenses to the corporate account, you can get a record of a most of the business expenses that the employee is incurring. Many of the expenses of travel such as airline and hotel can be directly billed back to the company thus taking the issues out of the hands of the business traveler. * Travel rewards. If you have your corporate travel coordinated by an internal or external travel agency, corporate accounts with the major airlines can be established so the frequent flyer miles can be collected by the business. As such, the business can redeem those miles and realize those benefits as a significant discount to apply against the travel budget. * Per Diem. Your corporate travel policy must communicate clearly to the traveling employee what their limits are for hotel, rental car and meals on the road. You want to head off before it starts any tendency by the employee to go overboard with daily expenses. This part of the policy should be reviewed annually to update to current costs. * Reporting. One of the chief complaints employees have about corporate travel policies are that the expense reporting system is cryptic and hard to fill out. You will give the employee a standardized form that each traveler in the company must fill out to get reimbursed for expenses while traveling. But review these forms and even design your own so the format is understandable and you have categories to cover all types of expenses the employee might encounter. Along with these general categories, your corporate travel policies should include some leverage for employees who are faced with exceptional situations. Room and food expenses can vary widely depending on where the employee must travel. So you don't want to set the hotel limit to $125 per night because it is reasonable to stay in a comfortable hotel for that rate in Lincoln Nebraska but enforce that same limitation for an employee who must do business in New York City. By creating a policy that in general protects the corporate budget but is also workable to employees who are about the company business, you will have a tool that will serve both company and employee interests and enable business travel to be what it was always intended to be -- a productive, business focused activity that achieves the goals of the enterprise.
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