What to include in your business travel checklist
Produce an itinerary
Being in a new destination is often a disorientating experience. You’re in an unfamiliar place, you may not speak the language, and you are rushing from one place to the next. Therefore, it’s a good idea to produce a clear itinerary before you set off, to ensure that the whole trip will flow smoothly.
Remember to include details of all hotel and travel bookings, plus names and numbers of contacts, restaurants in and around the hotel, and even a number for a taxi, or directions to the taxi rank at the airport.
A business travel itinerary example might also include:
Get expert help
A few things to bear in mind when dealing with travel agents:
- Don’t accept the standard options you’re offered. Travel agents often have a select number of upgrades available, you just have to be the one who asks!
- If you find a better deal elsewhere, take it back to the travel agent and see if they can beat it.
- Ask them to check that you’ve scheduled the trip in the most efficient way, taking into account travel times and stopovers, etc.
- Find out if there is an expected dress code for the area, or any laws or customs that need to be taken into consideration.
- Ask them to check the carry on baggage allowance for the specific airline you are travelling with. It’s surprising how much this can vary, and the last thing you want is to arrive at the airport and discover you have to check an extra bag.
Create a handy travel folder
For every trip that you organise it’s a good idea to create a travel folder which contains every piece of information that you might want to know whilst away.
The perfect travel folder will provide business travel guidelines which will allow you to enjoy the whole trip without incident.
You will want to include the itinerary described earlier, but also local information such as places to visit, dialling codes and restaurants.
It will also be sensible to include any tips and advice that you uncover when doing research, alongside all of your important documents. This might include:
- How to get emergency medical help
- Cancellation policies for all bookings
- Dress code required for meetings and meals
- Packing list including: laptop, charger, plug adapters, mobile phone and charger, currency for travel costs, passport, boarding pass, medication and toiletries
- Details of what the airline allows to be carried on and what should be packed for the hold
- Any items which are prohibited in the country they are travelling to, such as alcohol
- The pick-up and collection arrangements, including the meet-up place and how the driver will identify you
- Car rental details
You should also include copies of any files, handouts or slides, plus a backup copy on a USB stick or similar.
Have backup copies
You can’t prevent mishaps occurring such as lost or stolen passports, but you can make sure that you have contingency plans in place so if the worst occurs, it’s not a disaster.
Keep a copy of any important document or card, including passports, company credit cards and driving licences. This will help you cancel lost items and sort out replacements more quickly.
Keep a note on your online diary about your passports expiration date. You should setup an alert at least 8 months before it is due to expire, as many countries will not allow you to travel with less than six months until the expiration. Even the best-laid plans can be scuppered by a passport which is out of date.
The personal touch
To create the very best experience, consider the little things that will help make the trip more enjoyable. This could include anything from the type of vehicle you prefer to drive to any particular dietary requirements you may have. Thinking about these in advance can help smooth out any kinks in your plans when you arrive.
Location, location, location
Become an expert by doing lots of research. By getting to know your destination, you will not only be able to schedule the most efficient trip, but also avoid any pitfalls along the way.
The research will help you figure out if there are any areas to be avoided, or any particular problems which frequently arise. Ensure you have a map of the local area and clearly mark out the places you might need to go to. This will make it much easier for you when they arrive.
Plan for the worst
You may have made the most detailed travel plans but it’s always best to be prepared for things to go wrong. Cancellations and delays can ruin all your hard work but if you have a backup plan, it needn’t be a disaster.
When making all the arrangements check out some alternatives and hold details on file so that if there’s a double booking or some other faux pas, you can simply activate Plan B.
Allow time to consolidate
Arriving home from a lengthy business trip is often a relief. Time for you to switch off, unwind and get back into your normal routine. However, when jet lag kicks in, you may be surprised by how disorientated you become. Allow time in your schedule to settle back into day-to-day life, but also to make sure you have time to follow-up on anything you promised to do. A business trip usually instigates a number of ‘next actions, so if you promised to forward a document to a client or customer, make sure you, or your assistant makes a note to do it in a timely fashion.