It would be nice only to work once you reach your destination, but chances are, there are tasks that need completing and you can’t spare the downtime, even while in the air or on the rails; you’re not alone. Millions of people travel for business daily. A study by the U.S. Travel Association found that Americans logged almost 464 million overnight stays away from home in 2017. Many of these travelers are also busy working on the road. Whether making regular overnight trips for the office or traveling for work for the first time, here are some business travel tips to help you stay productive throughout the journey.
Pack smart for traveling long and short distances
Packing for long trips can vary by the type of transportation. Flying requires the most planning because of the extensive rules about what people can and can’t pack and how much room is available on flights. Some people can get away with only a carry-on tote for short excursions while a week or more may require a baggage check. Most trains do not hold luggage, so people have to store items in the compartments above their seats. Bus travelers can place bags they don’t need in the storage sections and keep carry-ons with them.
Another useful tool is a business travel organizer. These look like small handbags and fit neatly inside most carry-ons and even some briefcases. Take the organizer out at the hotel and hang it in the closet, on the back of the door, or on the bathroom towel rack for quick access. Store jewelry, makeup, beauty creams and lotions, cologne, and other personal items in this personal organizer.
Most commuters get by comfortably with messenger bags to carry necessary folders, daily planners, laptops, and business other essentials. If you aren’t comfortable carrying one of these bags that can get heavy toward the end of a long day, then to reduce neck strain, check out the variety of backpacks for professionals that have comfort and organization features.
Dress for productivity
It may be tempting to throw on a comfy pair of sweatpants or leggings with a favorite T-shirt and hair in the famous messy bun. However, you represent a company and need to maintain a degree of professionalism. This doesn’t mean a three-piece suit or a dress with heels is always necessary. Dress for success and comfort to keep working on the trip. For example, pack the high heels and wear a comfortable pair of loafers. Wear a polo shirt and chinos rather than the full suit and use the right luggage set to keep clothes wrinkle-free. You definitely don’t want to get caught without a professional change of clothes. A good rule of thumb is, if you’re not carrying on, make sure you would be comfortable in your attire meeting with clients or mingling at a conference, whatever your final destination requires. Imagine if they lost your luggage and all you had were sweatpants.
How to travel with less stress
Foremost, prepare for delays. From bumper-to-bumper traffic to flight delays and layovers, things can happen. Prepare for these slowdowns by working during these waits. With a few business travel essentials, it’s easy to complete projects while waiting at the airport, the train station, or in a hotel lobby. For anywhere you sit, consider adding a small lumbar cushion that’s small enough to slide into a carry-on bag or backpack. This minor item can reduce back pain and leg cramps, allowing you to work longer during layovers and delays.
Give yourself breaks
It may not be true that all work and no play makes a dull person, but it can reduce productivity. To improve how much you accomplish, take regular breaks. If you were in the office, you would make time for a morning coffee break, a lunch break, and go home for dinner. Do the same while working out of town. Get out, take a walk, and eat one or two meals outside of the hotel room.
Treat yourself to either an evening out while on the road or call it an early night and curl up with a good book or movie. Instead of getting up in the morning and going right to work, try to schedule some time to hit the gym, pool, or go for a jog before starting the workday. Maintaining a work-life balance even as a frequent business traveler is critical to workplace happiness and comfort and being productive.
The keys to any successful office business trip are organizing, using the right tools, and knowing when to take breaks. The more comfortable you are traveling, the more productive you’ll be. Without this balance, you could end up with a pain in the neck.