Preparation is the key to a successful trip, and most of that preparation takes place before you leave home.
Make a checklist before packing
Being away from home is not having access to everything you are used to. So do some serious brainstorming a few days before your trip. Write down everything you need to bring, including clothing, toiletries, and everything you need for work. You don’t want to get to your important meetings and realize that the file you need is 5000 kms away.
Avoid checking in your luggage.
Of course, a large suitcase allows you to take more things, but carrying heavy luggage in a foreign city can become a nightmare. For most business trips, you will only need carry-on baggage and a shoulder bag, or a laptop bag depending on how much space you need. You can even take a suit in hand luggage if you fold it carefully. The less you have to carry around on business trips, the better.
Dress for the job you want.
By traveling for work, you become the face of your employer. Whether you want to brush your elbows with clients or senior cabinet officials, you will want to make a good impression, which means dressing up. Unless your company has a dress policy for business travel, plan to dress at least as well as you do in the office, or better.
Bring comfortable shoes.
Traveling by plane can be called “flying”, but it requires a surprising amount of walking. Which means it’s important to take care of your feet. Your shoes should look great, but they should be comfortable enough to not have blisters at airports, convention centers, or city streets.
Bring business cards.
It’s important to build good relationships when you meet people for work. Handing over a business card when you separate is an expected courtesy. If you don’t have a business card yet, ask your head or department secretary if they can order one for you before you leave.
Bring a notebook.
Whether you are traveling for a meeting or a convention, you will need to take notes. Typing notes on a laptop or smartphone while someone is talking to you is rude. Go out of date and use a notepad instead.
Keep a list of important information about you at all times.
The list should include your flight schedule, your hotel name and address, and your business meetings. When parking at the airport, also add your parking location to the list. Keep this information in a note taking application on your phone or on a sheet of paper in your wallet. On a business trip, this list is part of your life, treat it accordingly.
Give a copy of your itinerary to someone you trust at home.
Life goes on while you’re on the road, so it’s important that your friends and family know where you are in an emergency. Send your flight and hotel information to your girlfriend / wife / husband, parents or a responsible roommate.
Get to the airport early.
No one will blame you if your flight is canceled, but what if you miss your plane because you slept? It’s embarrassing and it could even get you in trouble. Bring some reading to pass the time and leave early for the airport. Security clearance times are not always predictable.
If you travel often, keep a well-stocked toiletry bag.
Don’t forget to bring your shaving cream, your ChapStick and your contact solution is a problem. If you travel more than once a year, you’d better buy travel-size, travel-size bottles and keep them handy when you get out of town. Remember to put the liquids in a separate zippered bag to pass the security check. A key accessory will be a simple but elegant watch that will both serve you to make sure you’re on time, but also will give a good impression to your customers.
Once you arrive at your destination
Congratulations, you have arrived at your destination! Believe it or not, that was the easiest part. You’re here to work, so it’s time to shine. Here’s how.
Keep your receipts.
Most companies will reimburse you for your expenses while you are on the road. You may have a business credit card or a daily expense allowance (called “daily allowance”). Either way, you will usually need to keep your receipts for restaurants, hotels, and taxis. Remember, not everyone offers receipts, so you may need to look for information about it (this is especially important in taxis).