7 Tips to Survive Work Travel: Keys to Productivity & Enjoyment

I went on my first full-time work trip a few months ago, and let me tell you, it was an experience! It was so cool to have my own company card, staying at a ritzy hotel, and doing work that I love. Although I am in a primarily marketing role, I do quite a bit of event planning as well. Which is great, because I’m pretty good at it (if I must say so myself).

I’ve attended workshops, conferences, conventions and the like. Traveling for business is a slightly different beast. From what I gained on this trip, here’s my checklist on how to do it right!

Transportation: How Many Bags, You Say?

Do pack a compact/light bag. Work travel will find you all over hotels, airports, and large convention centers. Coming and going at inopportune times can make it hard to find a place for your bag. Try to keep it easy to roll or carry.

Ways to achieve this is being strategic with clothing and shoes. Mix and match a few pieces for business meetings and keep the shoes to a minimum. All other accessories and toiletries can be placed in a carry-on.

Work Travel Social/Network Balance

If you’re like me, you get to work with people who you normally don’t even see at the office. I loved having downtime to get to know people from my own company. Take advantage of this time to socialize with people from other departments. You may need a favor from them and they’ll be your new buddy, ready to lend a hand.

Likewise, take this time to pick the brains of some managers and executives who are easy to talk with. You don’t want to be too pushy or go overboard, but traveling is one of the best environments to casually talk about office culture, history, and advantages.

Not only did you come to work, but you also came to socialize and grow!

Office Etiquette During Work Travel

Keep in mind that you take the office with you, even on the road! I call it “casual appropriateness”, because you still have to employ office etiquette to some degree while traveling. If you have an open schedule that allows for casual dress or relaxed attitudes, keep it professional! It’s easy to slip into a casual mode when your environment changes. However, people will remember off-putting actions when you DO get back to the office. Always keep your attire appropriate, language clean, and alcohol intake moderate (even if you do get to charge the company card).

Would you like my LinkedIn Profile?

Would you believe that business cards are still a thing? I didn’t believe it either but when you think about it, they’re pretty handy. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury to pull up an app, search a name, send the request, and then have them accept it. A quick card swipe will suffice and after the trip, look up the information at your leisure. Business cards shouldn’t be hard to grab or keep track of either. Keep a small stack in your wallet or cardholder, and exchange them for other people’s cards. Simple as that!

Just be sure to include your LinkedIn profile on the card if you’re super active there!

Me Time During Work Travel

Although this is a work trip, do not feel bad to take time for yourself. Traveling can be exhausting if you do not stop to take time a breath (literally). I remember not allowing my mind (and barely my body) to rest while on my work trip. By the time I got back home, I took a long nap that left me groggy and with a few days of recuperating.

A few ways to relax and recenter yourself is to do yoga in the hotel room, visit the hotel gym, read a book before sleep, listen to a podcast while getting ready, take a meal outdoors alone, or take a scenic walk during midday breaks.

Checking Email During Work Travel

As tempting as it could be, do not check your work email and attempt to do tasks outside of your trips purview. This does not promote productivity at all, it leads to greater anxiety and causes confusion. Before you leave the office, do these things to easily disconnect and pick back up when you return:

  • Address any tasks a week in advance that you normally would do during the trip’s timeframe
  • Send a reminder email a few days in advance to your team/department
  • Request updates from those same co-workers so that you can complete your tasks early
  • Brief a colleague on pressing items that someone may need help with while you’re out
  • Set up an interoffice and external auto email responder to avoid inbox clutter (include when you’ll be back and who to contact for emergencies)

Spending During Work Travel

Lastly, you want to be judicious with your spending. Although you have the freedom to run up the company’s tab, there is a fiscal responsibility involved. I’m sure there are policies in place to avoid any abuse, but try to aim for even more responsible use. If you have a limit of $40 per meal, spend $30. If you can order your own Uber, still consider sharing with a colleague. It looks good to the accounting department and your supervisor. Also, you wouldn’t want to have to explain how you ended up with 3 bottles of wine at one dinner. Would you?

Downloading a helpful app can lower the work involved with auditing your expenses as well. My company uses a service called Concur and their app allows me to snap a picture of my receipts automatically and track expenses on-the-go. Even if you don’t have this capability through your company, there are independent tracker apps that will organize your expenses.

Still looking for that dream job where you can travel to do what you love? Read this blog post.

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