Career Coaching

Tips and tricks for work-related travel

Business travel is a love-hate dynamic. While many people see it as a perk, especially when they get to combine business and leisure, frequent business travelers often find it inconvenient, even uncomfortable. 

Traveling for business can be challenging. However, experienced travelers know that they can have a much better experience when they follow certain rules that are guaranteed to work. Here is my complete list of top travel tips and tricks to help you navigate your next business trip with ease. 

Stick to carry-on bags only

This is one of those packing tips that can easily help you save lots of extra time. If you want to avoid losing an average 30 minutes at the baggage claim, or even having to go through the hassle of your suitcase being lost, then keep it simple, pack light, and stick to carry-on luggage.

Make comfort a priority

Whether it’s your bags, your clothes, your meals, or your sleep and skincare routine, make sure you have all the basics you need in order to feel comfortable during your trip. Consider a neck-pillow, earbuds for music (make sure they’re charged!), or an eye mask to get a few extra Z’s during your flight. 

Pack both business and casual attire

Even if the dress code at your meetings is always business attire, there might be occasions when you’ll have to dress casually. Even consider bringing clothes that you can put on for a 30-minute session in the hotel gym. It’s important to be prepared for all types of events. 

Use a suit bag

If you don’t have time or you don’t know if you’ll be able to get your suit ironed before your business meetings, then bring it with you on the plane in a suit bag to make sure it arrives wrinkle-free. Check your cabin allowance beforehand to make sure you can bring it on board. Another popular option is wearing it during your flight to avoid getting too many wrinkles on it.

Another tip is to invest in a hand steamer. They run about $50 to $100, but they will save you tons of time. Ironing can be tedious, but steaming is quick and efficient. 

International travel

First time business travel can make you nervous, and you might forget important details. International travelers need a current passport with at least six months until expiry. Do you need a visa or other authorizations? Do you have the right type of visa for business travel? There are many potential paperwork disasters lying in wait at immigration. 

Keep security checks in mind when you pack

Security checks can be very strict, with all liquids, electronics, and even chargers often being required to be taken out of your suitcase. To ensure you make your way through security checks as quickly as possible, keep all items to be checked at security ready to unpack when the time comes.

Also, make sure you wear socks. It can be more comfortable wearing flip flops or slides at the airport, but you’ll need to walk through security without your shoes. 

Review travel insurance 

Before you take to the skies, check travel insurance off your list of to do’s. Whether it’s a short trip or a long one, on a first business trip, make sure you’re covered. 

Money may not buy happiness, but it can get you an annual policy – saving you time, money, and a whole lot of headaches down the road – it’s also tax deductible  Also, don’t forget to scope out the risk landscape of your destination to make sure it’s in policy.  

Do your research on foreign business etiquette

Depending on where you’re traveling, business etiquette can be very different from your own country. Make sure to check the basic rules beforehand, so you will be able to go into a client meeting with confidence. 

Take advantage of lounges 

Airline lounges can reduce the stress of flying and lift you out of the chaos and noise of the main concourse. Walk into peace and quiet, showers, decent food, and drinks for free. Business Class fares generally include lounge access, but some are available for a fee. There is no better place to be if you’re dealing with delays. Once again, this is a business write-off. 

Use a firewall when using public internet

Especially when you use your work computer and access work-related information, make sure your antivirus is up to date and you have a firewall to protect you from anyone accessing your data.

If you’re traveling to a different time zone, try to sleep in the night-time of that zone prior to take-off. Body clocks are hard to reset and it’s better if you can do this on the flight. While sleeping in Economy Class can be a challenge, earplugs and noise-canceling headphones may help. If your business meeting is crucial, paying for a Business Class fare could be the game changer you need. 

Yoga (in your seat)

There are yoga and exercise workouts you can do in your seat. At least get up and walk around and stretch every so often. And be aware that it is not easy to work in Economy Class. If you plan to prepare for your business meeting on the plane, know that you will be cramped and regularly interrupted. Most important of all, stay hydrated preferably with water, not alcohol.

Review company expense policies 

Make sure to check with your boss before you travel on what you can charge, rather than return to a frosty reception and a bill you have to pay. Retain all your receipts and make a note on them. For every trip I take, I keep a separate envelope to quickly stash away my receipts. Then, at the end of each day, I track my expenses, so they do not build up at the end of the week and I have to rush to get everything over to accounting. 

Get some movement in 

It’s important you keep a check on your mental and physical health while you travel. Find time to sweat in the gym, do some laps in the hotel pool or walk to a local attraction. Your mind will be clearer, and you’ll look and feel fresher. 

Bring travel size toiletries

You want to look your best at that important business meeting. Even if your hotel offers many quality toiletries, there’s nothing like your own products, which are the best match for your needs so bring them along.

 Pack healthy snacks

For many business travelers, a work trip often means irregular meal times and unhealthy snacks. Pack enough healthy, balanced snacks to keep with you not only on the plane but also whenever you’re on the go.

Be self-aware 

When you travel, you’re either representing your company or yourself. And your country. Know the local laws, be courteous, and tip when needed. Remember to watch what you eat. Although it may be a good idea to grab food from a local vendor and try new food, this can affect your health. Stick to distilled water and stay hydrated as much as possible. 

Career Coaching Motivation

Preparing to work at a new company in a different industry

Starting a new job is always quite intimidating. Whether you’re straight out of college or have been in the workforce for a while, entering into a new industry can make you feel out of place. In order to succeed, both socially and professionally, you are expected to learn the lingo, follow the dress code, and pick up on acceptable social and professional behaviors. Typically, as a new employee you don’t always have constant help to figure these areas out.

Comprehensive onboarding is essential to feel comfortable in a new job. For example, the consulting firm BCG found that of the 21 human resource programs it looked at, onboarding had the second most significant business impact. 

Generally, organizations often fall short on helping new hires assimilate to their new office environments. New hire orientation programs are often too brief. In a perfect world, they should include more than the common one-off meeting. However, while it’s the company’s job to help you learn about the office culture, much of your success at a new job falls on you. Here are some tips to help you succeed at your new industry from day one.

Don’t lose your personal brand

You are representing yourself and your personal brand  from the moment you step foot into the office.

Now that you’re starting your first day as an employee, don’t downplay the importance of first impressions. Your first 90 days on the job are often treated as an extension of the interview. That means you should use every interaction to prove that you’re a respectful, professional, and diligent worker, but also that you’re someone who your colleagues will enjoy spending eight-plus hours a day with.

From a conversation with your manager to your first department meeting to your first company event with coworkers, every office task is an opportunity to learn, grow, and represent yourself in a positive light. 

Set healthy boundaries from the get-go

This career tip is one that can take some time to understand, but it’s worth noting, so you’re aware of the importance of setting healthy boundaries in regard to work. When you set healthy boundaries, you are clarifying what is acceptable and unacceptable to you in regard to how late you’re willing to work, the total number of hours you’re willing to work, how you’ll deal with saying “no” when needed, and how personal you’re willing to allow your work relationships to be. 

Once you set the example that you’re willing to do certain things, it’s hard to go back. In other words, if your manager sends you emails over the weekend, and you respond, then you may unknowingly set the expectation that you will always be willing to work on weekends. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

Establish good time management skills at work from day one 

When starting work in a new industry, especially in a corporate setting, it does not take long for the volume of work and projects to pile up. These items, combined with the personal items you need to address on a regular basis, can become overwhelming if you don’t utilize good time management skills while at work. 

Common time management techniques include setting priorities, maintaining lists of items to be addressed daily, and scheduling blocks of time to address certain items. 

Remember, It’s also okay to say “no” if you have to. This also goes back to setting boundaries. For example, if you are asked to complete a project or do a task, you can share your current obligations and then negotiate the completion due date. What you are really saying is  “yes,” while also managing expectations. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask your manager to help you set priorities if you find the requests piling up.  

If you’re constantly being asked to perform tasks that are not within your work scope, you may need to find a way to politely decline to work on these items. Helping someone out at work is one thing, but do not allow yourself to be a doormat or be taken advantage of. You will become overwhelmed or stressed by unreasonable requests.

Avoid office politics 

More often than not, employees make themselves look bad by trying to involve themselves in work matters that are none of their business. Work environments can be quite the tangled web of  drama and gossip, all of which the wise new hire will avoid. Unless you are a supervisor, your work is the only work you’re responsible for.

However, the exception to this rule is if someone is doing something unethical, creating an unsafe work environment due to harassment or bullying, is doing something unsafe, or is negatively impacting your ability to do your job. These scenarios warrant further action on your part by bringing the concern to the attention of your supervisor or Human Resources.

Choose your work battles wisely

With the numerous people you will interact with in the work world, you likely will encounter plenty of frustrations, and concerns. To maintain your sanity and productivity at work, it will be helpful for you to discern between challenges you need to deal with versus the ones you can overlook and move on from.

Never stop asking questions

There is a learning curve as a new hire, especially if you are entering a new industry; from how to do your job effectively to how the organization works. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by all the items you will need to learn. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions from team members to gain clarity when you need it. It’s better to get the information to handle things correctly versus learning the hard way that you’re doing something incorrectly.

No one expects you to be a pro when you are new to a job and industry, and no one expects you to know everything about the organization right away, either. Chances are that others have similar questions to you, so don’t be afraid to ask.  

Finally, show initiative by doing your own research. Take time to learn about your position and the organization before you begin commenting or making suggestions that might be interpreted as not understanding your position or the organization or could be perceived as argumentative or condescending. If you’ve been provided answers to questions, be sure to listen, so you don’t have to ask the same questions over and over again.