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It’s been predicted there will be approximately 457 million business trips per year within the U.S. by 2024, with women making up a growing percentage of that number. Between in-person meetings, onsite office visits and lecture circuits filling up the calendar, business travel can become quite chaotic without a well-crafted plan.
When growing a business, living life on the go often becomes commonplace, heading from one professional event to the next. However, with business travel beginning to resume to pre-pandemic levels, it’s helpful to keep in mind these travel best practices to optimize the experience.
1. Be strategic when planning travel
With entrepreneurship comes a certain level of flexibility that allows for flying during “off-times” to save on costs and minimize crowded flights. Booking travel in early spring or fall is often less expensive than during the high travel seasons of summer and end-of-the-year holidays, though be mindful of booking around spring break and other major holidays.
Also, when possible, reserve flights at the beginning of the week versus the weekend as these are often less expensive and may have better flight times. Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to have the lowest flight prices with savings of nearly $85 on average. Furthermore, check current airline policies. Many now offer flexible flight changes and cancellations with either an airline credit or refund if plans change, which helps to keep options open.
Related: Ready for Takeoff: 7 Travel Tips for Remote Workers
2. Pack efficiently
Creating a checklist is an easy way to track and pack exactly what’s needed for a business trip. Consider events on the agenda, such as conferences, meetings and networking happy hours. Pack layering pieces that can be worn more than once and outfits that can coordinate with the same pair of dress shoes, since footwear often takes up the most room.
First, lay out all possible clothing options. Then, pare down the packing list to necessities to avoid having to check luggage and potentially incur extra costs. Next, roll clothing to make more room and use packing cubes to optimize space. It’s also smart to invest in a travel steamer, especially for delicate fabrics. Additionally, choose a laptop bag or tote which can be used to store electronics, as well as a small toiletry kit to free up room in the suitcase as well.
3. Prioritize comfort on flights
When traveling on multi-hour and/or overnight flights, stay comfortable while in the air to feel better prepared once landed. Once on board, change into comfortable clothes to avoid wrinkling and staining workwear — and to help settle in to relax. Moisturize the skin and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated to look and feel refreshed. Also, wear a sleep mask and listen to a meditation or nighttime noise app like Calm or Headspace to make it easier to doze off. About an hour before landing, change back into business attire, freshen up and order a strong cup of coffee to start the trip off right.
4. Choose optimal accommodations
When working on the road, lodging can make all the difference. Check for high-speed Wi-Fi, a separate workstation and other amenities like an in-room coffee maker and refrigerator, especially for longer stays. There are certain hotel chains equipped specifically for business travelers, and Airbnb hosts are also updating their spaces to accommodate those working on the road.
Additionally, when booking accommodations for conferences or client meetings, choose a place to stay within walking distance or within a short drive to where it’s being held to avoid having to rent a car or risk being stuck in traffic.
Related: 5 Ways to Make Business Travel More Productive
5. Practice self-care
Traveling can be taxing, and with no set 9-to-5 as an entrepreneur, it can become challenging to take time for self-care. Indulge in the hotel’s hot tub or spa, if available, or schedule a massage or pedicure nearby. Even taking a few moments at the end of each day for stretching, a cup of tea and downtime to unwind can help with feeling calm. The toll travel takes on the body can increase the likelihood of physical illness and mental burnout. Aim for eight hours of sleep, stay hydrated and eat as healthy as possible, even when several time zones away.
6. Mix business with pleasure
Many times it’s difficult to separate time for pleasure when traveling for work. However, carve out specific calendar times to explore a new restaurant or take a walking tour when visiting new cities. Time blocks can be helpful when prioritizing work deadlines and also, create space to make the travel leisurely as well.
Keep in mind, when introducing “bleisure” (business and leisure) travel into the mix, make sure to track expenses for each. Create a spreadsheet and organizes receipts and business expenses at the end of every day to ensure accuracy. Keep a separate folder for receipts or store them digitally through accounting software to make them easily accessible come tax time.
Being on the road for business takes careful coordination and strategic efforts in order to maximize time and create an optimal experience. To maximize time and enjoy the experience, keeping these tips in mind can serve as reminders for how to make the most of business travel.