After only two weeks in the role at Procter & Gamble, I was asked by my director to go on a business trip to the UK.
A dream coming true, I would be paid for travelling! (Even though I had to work here)
It was a mix of excitement (my first business trip!),
and stress (no clue where to start, what to wear, what if something happens…).
If you are about to go on your first business trip,
and you don’t know what to do next, no worries! discover here how to prepare for a business trip and not die trying.
How to prepare for a business trip
Now that COVID-19 is over,
we are progressively coming back to our regular lives prior to the pandemic, both personally and professionally.
It is not a surprise to walk around airports worldwide
and find people in their suits, going through the security controls while attending calls on Teams.
If you want to have a stress-free business trip, this is for you.
Understand your company’s travel policy
If this is your first business trip in the company,
understanding your company’s travel policy is the first element to start with!
Can I book the tickets and the accommodation myself or shall I use any internal software for travelling such as: Egencia, Concur, or TravelPerk?
Am I entitled to any daily allowance?
Can I use my own private credit card, or can I use only company ones?
How much budget do I have for the business trip?
These are key questions that you need to be crystal clear about before proceeding with any booking.
In case of any doubt,
make sure you to reach out your manager and/or HR counterpart.
Check the Accommodations
Once you know how much budget is at your disposal for the business trip, it is time to think about where you will be staying.
First, refer to company guidelines to understand what is recommended.
If you can choose, I would book via reliable portals such as booking.com or airbnb.com
Where to book your accommodation for a business trip
The reality is that on business trips,
you will be spending limited time in the hotel, mainly sleeping and breakfast,
It would make sense to have your accommodation close to the venues where you will have most of the work meetings.
That’s why if you want to make the most out of your business trip,
try to minimize the time you spend commuting.
What can you do?
Check the location of the places where you will be attending the meetings,
so you can book your accommodation in that area.
Organize your personal documents
Imagine that you are about to board the plane,
and you notice that your ID and your passport are expired.
Houston, we have a problem!
To ensure you avoid such issues,
make sure you check enough in advance that your documents are still valid (for example while booking your accommodation).
Safety should be always your number #1 priority (especially when being abroad.)
- Does my work medical insurance cover me in this country?
- Is the company providing medical insurance while working abroad?
- who shall I contact if something happens to me while being in a business trip
Refer to the company’s policy to answer those.
In case the company does not provide medical insurance, get one yourself!
Okay and you may think,
how do I get the best medical insurance?
The best way is to “google” forums of ex-pats that are living in that country,
and ask which medical insurance they recommend, ensure you get info from people who are already there.
Last but not least,
avoid major commissions while paying in foreign currency.
The best and simplest way is by using Revolut.
No matter where you are,
your Revolut card can be used in any currency, allowing monthly withdrawals of cash without commission.
To conclude when travelling abroad, make sure you include:
- Valid ID
- Valid Passport
- Driving license (if needed)
- Medical Insurance
- Credit card (ie: Revolut)
Check travel restrictions to your destination
With the lift of COVID-19 restrictions,
most countries around the globe are doing “normal life” at the moment.
with such a dynamic environment worth checking in official portals what it is the status of COVID-19 restrictions in the country you are flying to. For example here.
Avoid unnecessary surprises!
Set up an Out of Office message and free up your calendar
While being in a business trip,
try to focus on the meetings that are happening in your destination,
rather than monitoring what is happening in your inbox and attending calls in Teams.
Travelling for being either in your inbox or on Teams calls does not seem a bright idea…
How can you increase your focus time while on a business trip?
Two simple steps:
- Set up an Out of Office message
- Free up your calendar
Set up an out-of-office message,
make sure you include the dates that you will be on the business trip when you will be available and who can be contacted during your absence.
Free up your calendar
Cancel all the meetings you have on the agenda during the days of the business trip, you can drop a simple message such as, that you can use:
I will not be able to make it to the meeting.
During [period of time],
I will be on a business trip with limited access to my inbox
I will get back to you on [date]
If something is urgent, you can contact [name of your backup]
In case you need some inspiration on what to include in your out-of-office message
Do your homework for the business trip
A business trip is not only what it is happening once, you take the plane.
The business trip has 3 clear parts. Let’s see them.
Prior to the business trip
What is the purpose of the business trip?
Who will you be meeting there?
What is the agenda?
All the answers to these questions are the job that you need to do prior to the business trips.
Ask your host,
- which topics they would like you to cover,
- which are issues to discuss,( you can present your root causes of issues following these principles.)
- which elements should be managed via brainstorming.
With this information,
prepare simple PowerPoints and send them prior to the business trip to your host to ensure you are covering what is expected from you.
Avoid last-minute surprises.
During the business trip
.It can be that not all the people that you will meet during the business trip will know who you are.
Same way as you would do in the office, introduce yourself.
You can support your introduction,
by preparing one simple slide about yourself including your country of origin, background, career, and hobbies.
If you need some inspiration, see below:
As discussed earlier,
company is making a huge effort financially for sending you on a business trip, make sure you are on FOCUS mode.
No laptops, no emails, no Teams chat.
Focus on the here and the now.
After the business trip
The business trip is not over once you are taking the plane back home.
As a result of the business trip,
make sure you summarize the topics that were talked about,
create an action plan
and send over a thank you note to the people who were hosting you while being on the business trip.
Review often the status of the action plan versus the deadlines with the owners,
and assess if another business trip would be needed.
What to do a few days before the business trip
Pack the Essentials
The day before the trip has just arrived,
and you wonder what shall I pack?
it depends on the length of the trip,
it depends on the activities you have planned,
it depends on the weather for those days (remember to check the weather forecast upfront),
however there are some essentials that should be a must in your luggage:
- Documentation (ID, passport, credit cards, company badge, tickets – for the plane remember to check-in online, no need to do it at the airport, don’t waste time on that!)
- Technology (Laptop, smartphone, chargers, power bank …)
- Clothes (For work, for being in the hotel, for working out …)
- Hygiene (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo, perfume…)
- Gift for your host (bring some small souvenir or sweet from your region for the host)
And of course, if you are doubting to take this or that, always better to pack too much than too little.
Prepare for the journey and how to commute
While going on a business trip it is key to prepare properly the journey how to go from your place to the airport/train station and how to commute from the destination to your hotel/apartment/Airbnb.
Going from your place to the airport/train station
How can you do it? – simple using Google.
you can estimate for certain day and time how long it would take to commute from point A to point B.
If you’re travelling by plane, make sure to arrive at the airport early in advance (at least 1.5h prior the flight).
Unless you are going on a business trip for a very long period of time (>3 weeks)
avoid checking-in the big luggage, instead try to fit everything in a cabin luggage so you minimize the risk of getting your luggage lost and not wasting time in the process.
Moving into the new destination
Once you arrived at your new destination,
it is no the moment to improvise how to get to your hotel/apartment/Airbnb.
Make sure you check upfront what it is the most convenient way to move.
An uber? Public transportation? Renting a car?.
Try to have in mind your preferable option how you would like to commute.
Sometimes, you may need to have a backup plan that you need to check online. Try to have an internet connection from minute one. See below how.
No matter if for work reasons,
or even due to an emergency (hopefully not!).
Make sure you have access to the internet, no matter where you are.
In case you have a company phone, validate in the company’s policy if you are allowed to use the data abroad.
In case you are not allowed,
it is highly recommended to purchase a travel SIM card so you can stay always connected.
And remember, the plugs you have in your house, most likely are not the same as the ones you can find in the UK , USA. Check if you need an adapter for your chargers , so you can charge your phone and other devices.
FAQs on how to prepare for a business trip
What do I need to pack for a business trip?
Depending on the length of your trip and the activities you have planned, you should pack the essentials such as a laptop and chargers, documents, clothes and toiletries. Make sure to check the weather beforehand so you can pack according to the climate in your destination.
What documents do I need to bring for a business trip?
You should bring your passport, ID, driver’s license, plane tickets, credit cards and medical insurance. It’s a good idea to keep them in a folder so they’re easy to access. Make sure to also bring along local currency if you’re travelling abroad.
How do I plan my itinerary for a business trip?
Planning your itinerary in advance is important to make the most of your business trip. Make sure to plan the route and the duration of your journey. It’s also a good idea to make a list of places to visit and activities you want to do while you’re there.
How do I stay connected during a business trip?
If you’re travelling abroad, make sure to purchase a travel SIM card so you can stay connected. Check if you need an adapter for your chargers too, so you can charge your phone and other devices. It’s also important to keep your family and colleagues informed of your whereabouts, so they know you’re safe.
Who should claim compensation for a flight disruption during a business trip?
If you experienced a flight disruption during a business trip, you are the one responsible to initiate the claim as you are the individual impacted. Once compensation is fixed, refer to your internal company policy how to proceed going further.
Preparing for a business trip doesn’t have to be stressful.
With a little bit of planning and organization, you can make sure your trip is a success. From packing the essentials to organizing your documents and planning your itinerary, these tips will help you prepare for your business trip.