Depending on what kind of traveler you are, traveling for business as a group can be something to look forward to - or one of your worst nightmares. If you tend to fall more in the latter group, don't worry, you aren't alone. Group travel can be stressful when it's with family; group travel with coworkers can be a bit more difficult.
Even though group business travel can be a challenge, it can also be an opportunity to work together, network, step out of your own comfort zone, and learn. Some of the best group trips I've taken were ones that I was dreading the most. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
Here are a few tips on how to get through your group business trips with ease and a few reasons why it can be good for your career.
1. Plan in advance.
If you work with a travel agent or have a dedicated person that is putting the trip together, be sure that they understand who will be traveling (i.e. coworkers with mobility issues, allergies, differing schedules, etc.). If you don't have a lead person, designate one collectively or take charge on your own. You don't have to map out every detail but you should have an idea of where you are going and what you will be doing at your destination.
Taking the initiative to lead may be stressful but can also be fruitful to your career, especially if your boss and coworkers are satisfied. Just be sure that everyone's opinion gets taken into consideration, otherwise the trip will suffer.
Also, don't feel that you have to do everything together. For instance, I recommend not sitting together on a flight, mainly because everyone usually has their own preferences on how they like to travel. Unless everyone is in agreement, it's okay to do things apart.
2. Get to know your colleagues.
If you are going to be traveling together, you should try to get to know your coworkers, especially if you're traveling with people you rarely interact with. This doesn't mean you need to take up a lot of their time beforehand, it just means you can talk to them a bit before the trip to see how they're feeling.
Maybe you'll learn that they are nervous about flying or concerned about their presentation. Or perhaps someone gets very seasick and would prefer to stick to land-based activities. If you've taken the initiative to plan and get to know your co-workers, there's a good chance that you can build loyalty and the feeling of inclusion.
3. Take some time for yourself and establish boundaries.
Regardless of whether or not you decide to lead the trip planning, you should make take for yourself during the trip. This is especially important if you are sharing a space with a colleague. Giving yourself time to relax after having to work all day can help you stay on track.
Consider having a meal alone or indulging in any of the hotel services. Or you may want to go somewhere to catch up with loved ones back home. Be sure to let your colleagues know that you'd like some time alone.
4. Don't overshare.
Oftentimes when traveling with colleagues, people tend to loosen up (which isn't a bad thing). However, if there is alcohol involved, people may start to let their guard down and open up about personal things. Or they may speak ill of someone that you're working with.
Be careful not to be the person who says too much. Even if you are having fun and other people are opening up, try to remain professional.
5. Participate in group activities.
I know a few people that avoid group activities altogether. However, avoiding all activities can give colleagues and potential business partners the wrong idea about you. You can participate without having to do everything together.
Group activities can be a good networking experience as well as an opportunity to collaborate. Sometimes a local tour or a trip to a nice eatery can help everyone get more comfortable with each other. Consider suggesting something that is easily accessible for everyone.