Marketers and PR professionals are on the road quite a bit. Customers ask for onsite meetings. Conferences demand speakers. Unless you’ve got the luxury of dealing with only local customers, chances are good you’ll be hopping a few time zones for work’s sake.
Business travel done wrong has far-reaching negative impact. You work less efficiently. Your work quality declines. Your health takes a hit. You may even make mistakes so severe that you lose a customer.
Done right, business travel advances relationships. Your customers are happy for the face time. You might even have the good fortune to build new customer relationships or new business serendipitously. And of course, you even get to see a bit more of the world than you might otherwise.
What’s the difference between traveling well and poorly? Planning. The farther ahead you can plan and think, the better your travels will go.
How do you plan business travel well? Plan based on what you need to ensure success. Here’s a basic checklist of things to plan for.
Identification: Depending on where you’re going, what identification will you need? Some parts of the world require a visa. Some parts of the world require a passport. Even within your own nation, identification needs vary. You can get by in most places in the United States with a driver’s license, but not all the time. Make sure you’ve got the right ID before you travel. An extra pro tip: leave copies of your important documents like health insurance, license, passport, etc. in your photo roll on your smartphone or in an app like Evernote.
Medical/Health: Nothing puts the kibosh on effectiveness faster than injury or illness. Even something as simple as knowing what the local emergency number is matters; in some nations like the UK, it’s 999. In the US, 911. In most of Europe, 112. In the patchwork quilt of health insurance around the United States, what hospital nearest to where you’re traveling will accept your health insurance carrier?
Power: In the device-driven age, power is more essential than ever. Consider buying a portable power strip that can fit inside a handbag, purse, or messenger bag, as well as a power bank. Airplanes with power typically have one outlet shared among several passengers, so a small power strip can be an instant friend-maker and networking opportunity. Power banks can keep increasingly power-hungry devices charged up when plugging into a wall for an hour isn’t an option.
Internet: What connectivity will you have at your destination and on the go? Knowing you’ll have LTE speed (very fast) vs. EDGE network (really slow) will guide what you can and can’t do on the road. For example, being on EDGE or GPRS means the most you’ll be able to do is email and perhaps mobile social networks. Check coverage maps and availability before you leave, and know when you’ll be out of range.
Luggage: Decent luggage makes the difference between painful travel and traveling with relative ease. Pick luggage that can endure the rigors of being checked (highly durable) or is light enough and small enough to be carried on an airplane. Brands such as Osprey, Eagle Creek, and Travelpro all make excellent gear. Look for both a durable, large backpack (which can accommodate up to 3 days’ of clothing easily, plus a laptop) as well as a 22 inch roller bag.
Clothing: You need less than you think. Spend some time on YouTube for every manner of business packing travel hacks, from rolling your clothes to stuffing a suit in a backpack to securing jewelry in plastic wrap. By the time you’re done, you’ll have an arsenal of tricks that will make packing easier, lighter, and more versatile.
These 6 categories make up the bare essentials for planning ahead. In the next post in this series, we’ll share some of our favorite travel hacks.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology