Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.
Business trips often come at a significant financial expense, something that is felt even greater by smaller businesses. So, it’s important that before you depart, you are clear on objectives and expected outcomes of your trip. Most importantly, you should know how you’re going to pay for the trip in terms of expected future revenue. We skip a lot of conferences when we know that the clients we’ll meet there are ones that are just as happy to speak to us over the phone or video conference. Furthermore, understanding what you can and can’t claim, plus any spend limitations, is important to avoid awkward discussions when you submit your post-trip expense report.
That said, however, there are scammers out there, and it's the naive rookie travellers that provide their easiest targets. I was scammed the first time I travelled. And the second time. And the third time. There's no easy way around this – you're often dealing with pros who've been doing this their entire lives. Just roll with the punches and try not to part with too much cash. (Read: Ten classic travel scams)
Packing is pivotal. Forget an essential item and you're left disappointed and scrambling to find the nearest store in your destination. Pack too much and you end up disorganized, burdened with heavy bags, and hemorrhaging money to pay for pricey airline baggage fees. So we thought it best to revisit the most basic—and most useful—packing rules. Here are 10 fundamental packing strategies that every traveler should learn.
You must be age 18 or older to purchase tobacco products in the state. Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings (including restaurants, bars, and casinos) and enclosed spaces throughout California. It is illegal to smoke within 20 feet of doorways or windows of government buildings. Most large hotels have designated smoking rooms; if you smoke, request one—most hotels will fine guests who smoke inside a nonsmoking room. Many cities in California have passed ordinances prohibiting smoking in public areas, and smoking is prohibited in some national and state park buildings and areas.
I’d always been all about the packing cubes, until I discovered vacuum-sealed versions of them! You throw your clothes in, seal the bag, then roll it up to push out all the air. I can literally fit twice as many clothes in my backpack when I use these! Even if you don’t want to carry more things in your bag, it frees up so much space that if you need to pack in a hurry, you can just chuck everything in.
“I only pack clothes that are versatile and my best example of this is my brown leather boots that I can wear for a full day of hiking and out to dinner the same day. Recently I wore them dune bashing in Dubai and then to dinner at the Burj al Arab. The clothes you pack also need to have great wearability. Clothing that can only be worn once before a wash is a waste of space. I like merino wool shirts and socks from Icebreaker and Smart Wool. These can be worn days on end without needing to be washed and they seem to never smell.”
Perfecting the art of beating jet lag is a feat achieved by few, but there are a few important tips to at least get the amateur business traveler started. It’s always best to leave home well-rested so you avoid starting off on the wrong foot. From there, it is best to try to get as much sleep as you would in a 24-hour period at home. Your time in the air can either help or hinder you, as a plane is a great place to sleep, but often a difficult place to stay awake, if that’s what you need to do to settle into a new time zone. Either way, it is key to stay up until the local bedtime at your destination and not sleep in the following morning. Depending on which way you travel, the pros either recommend short naps and good coffee or short-acting insomnia medications like temazepam.
Excellent advice about talking to locals. When you get to know the people who live there, it really makes for a wonderful experience. And you are so right, they have the best insider tips! We’re guilty of focusing only on photos at one point as well. When we started blogging as a career, we nearly lost ourselves in the work. We now always have to remind ourselves to have balance. It’s amazing to be able to capture a moment at our fingertips, but we feel it’s just as important to stop and take it all in. It’s easy to miss the moment when you’re looking through the lens. Thanks for sharing!
Recently, for example, a nursing mother was told by a TSA agent that she couldn't bring a breast pump with empty milk bottles on board the plane. (Legally, she could.) In 2007, the TSA lifted its ban on regular lighters, but many screeners still confiscate them. (Legally, they can't.) The moral of the story: Familiarize yourself with the TSA's rules and regulations, because you can't necessarily expect your security screener to be well informed.
I know that to most people it looks like I am always on vacation, and that I live the glamorous life. But trust me, there is a big difference in traveling for pure pleasure or going on vacation, and traveling for work reasons. I have learned how to prepare for a business trip, and I talked about this a year ago, on a post where I explained what the reality of being a travel blogger is.
Asking is the quickest way to get a discount but it’s also the quickest possible way to piss off an Airbnb host. This is what differentiates the pros from the newbies. My general policy as a host — which I’ve been doing since 2011 — is to turn away hagglers because it signals a problem guest. It’s still possible, though, to get a confirmed booking and save some money without irritating a host so much they end up declining a guest’s inquiry outright. The trick is learning how to do it delicately.
When you travel, you’re in the sun more than most people thanks to months of island hopping and beach time, and entire days spent outside exploring. Wear sunscreen every single day, regardless of the weather and temperature, because you really don’t want your trip of a lifetime to result in skin cancer. Plus, it prevents premature ageing! I wear sunscreen every day, even in the middle of winter.
Figuring out the airlines' tricky and befuddling baggage-fee policies is key to any budget-minded packing strategy. While most airlines permit travelers to check at least one bag on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for bags checked on domestic flights. Spirit Airlines—that notoriously customer-unfriendly discounter—even charges as much as $100 for carry-on bags.
Let’s say you’re flying straight to Bangkok, where you’ve given yourself three days to see the main attractions. You can plan it all out, but you’ll most likely end up jetlagged and sleeping away a chunk of that time in the city. When you’re planning how long to stay in a place, take jetlag into account, as well as general travel fatigue. Remember you won’t want to be outside exploring for 12 hours a day every single day.
If you're staying in a hotel, call in advance to see if laundry services are available and how much they cost. Travelers staying in properties without laundry facilities or taking cruises—cruise lines are notorious for charging an arm and a pant leg for laundry services—can wash clothes in sinks and hang them to dry. I always make sure to pack a travel-size packet of laundry detergent and a sink stopper to clean my clothes on the road—it's my secret for fitting everything in a carry-on bag. Portable laundry-drying lines that attach to showers via suction cups are also a good choice; you can find them at many travel-supply stores.
If your business travels frequently, a business travel credit card can make your travels easier and more affordable. A business travel credit card usually earns rewards like travel points, which means the more your organization travels, the more opportunity there is for free or discounted trips. These cards sometimes include perks like lounge access and upgraded seats for your employees, which makes traveling easier. Lastly, using a credit card provides benefits such as purchase protections, extended warranties and travel insurance.
Invest in Luggage: After you figure out if you will be a “carry-on only” or “check only” type of business traveler, invest in a lightweight, durable piece of luggage that has a warranty. The same goes for a laptop bag. Whether you choose a shoulder bag or backpack, make sure it has a lot of padding and distributes weight evenly. You do not want your luggage breaking in the middle of an airport.