For some workers, business travel can be one of the most exciting benefits of the job. You get to learn and exchange ideas, meet new people, and hopefully build partnerships. You also get to visit a new place.
As exciting as it is, planning the actual travel can be the most stressful part. I know when I first started working, I was sort of thrown into planning my travel, which didn't help my already nervious disposition. However, thanks to my career and technology, I've learned several ways to make business travel easier and less stressful.
Here are a few tips on how to plan when it comes to business travel.
1. Figure out what your budget is.
The first thing you need to do (after getting the okay from your boss, the details of where you are going to travel, and have an understanding of the company travel policy) is learn what kind of budget you have. Will you have to submit receipts and an itemized list? How do you go about funding the trip?
Get clear answers on what you will need, especially if receipts will be required. Your employer may have an employee credit card for you. One of the best small business credit cards can be a helpful tool for business owners who want to have some control over employee spending.
While the dream is an unlimited budget, the chances of that are slim. Even if you didn't have a spending limit, you don't want to be unreasonable. Impress your employers by saving the company some money -- it may even open doors for more business travel.
Once you have an idea of what your budget is, decide what you think is best for your needs. For instance, if you suffer from motion sickness, perhaps you can cut your food budget to instead upgrade your seat to one closer to the wing. Or if the subway stresses you out, cut your costs somewhere else so you can take a taxi instead.
2. Create an itinerary.
This is probably the most time consuming step. If you have all of the details about the conference or office you will be working from/with, you can easily plan your flights, accommodations, and the transportation you will need to take. I recommend writing or mapping it out on an app or your computer to get a clear picture of what you will need to plan for.
However, don't get bogged down by the choices available on travel websites. Try sticking to Google Flights, Hipmunk, Momondo, etc. to get an idea of what it will cost and give yourself a time limit, otherwise you may be searching for hours. Note that some airlines, such as Southwest Airlines, won't come up on flight comparison sites.
Consider everything from baggage fees, the departure and arrival time at your destination, as well as if you'll have to make any connecting flights and whether or not you'll have enough time to get from one gate to another.
Once you've gotten your flight, compare accommodations. Try to stick to somewhere close to your work, if possible. If it's not close, consider what transportation mode you will be using to commute.
Finally, try to pack something in the itinerary for you. Maybe it's an evening walking tour of the old part of the city or it's visiting a world-famous restaurant. Whatever the case, try to include something that you will enjoy in your trip.
After you've gathered the details, put it all together. While this may be time consuming, having a fully-packed itinerary can make the travel much more seamless. By doing the work ahead of time, you can focus on the work you will be doing there.
Share your itinerary with relevant people, if necessary.
3. Make copies of your travel documents.
If you don't do this already, make copies of your travel documents, such as visas, driver's licenses, or passports, to have on file. Also, make note of your credit card numbers and contact numbers should the card get lost or stolen. Have confirmations saved in one easily accessible place.
I highly recommend storing all of this information in a service like Google Drive or in the Cloud. Or, I'll take screenshots of confirmation numbers and other important data. This way, you can log in from anywhere to get the information needed.
4. Pack a carry-on.
Because I've had embarrassing situations where my luggage never arrived, I always recommend bringing a carry-on bag with an extra set of clothes, any medications, my glasses, a toothbrush and toothpaste, extra chargers, and my electronics. It doesn't hurt to be prepared.