How To Prepare For Your First Business Trip

Packing & Wardrobe — By on December 21, 2011 at 11:53 am

By Alexa Brooks

It’s your first business trip and you’re not sure about the protocol. No sweat. Before you jet off check out out checklist to make sure you have dotted your I’s and crossed all your T’s.

Booking  Travel

Once your meetings are booked and completely confirmed now is the time to look into travel arrangements. First find out from coworkers how exactly this is done. Do you use a travel agent? Do you book on your own and then get reimbursed later? If this trip involves an overnight stay you may want to find out where you coworkers have stayed before. Not only will you know what to expect but you will know that the hotel may qualify for your companies’ expense cap. Many companies limit the amount of money per your job title as to where you can stay.

Also find out about the expense process. Many companies give you a $40 per day diem for food regardless of what you eat while others require you to keep track and expense all your meals.  I learned this the hard way when I joined a new company and did not keep track of all my receipts and I had to scramble to find them all to get reimbursed!

One Month Before Takeoff

This is a perfect time to print out your schedule of meetings as if you switch time zone your iPhone may not switch and your calendar might be incorrect. Also have a list of people with their phone numbers and business addresses that you are visiting. Use Google maps to look at directions to and from your meetings so that you are fully prepared and won’t be late.

If you have an iPhone here are some apps that help make business travel easier:

  • TripIt-You can email your itinerary and the app organizes it in an easy to read format at your fingertips.  If you get the TripitPro ($49 per year) you will receive flight delay and gate change alerts that sometimes occur BEFORE your airline tells you. This has saved me a lot of stress over the years.
  • GateGuru-Flying to an airport you have never been to? GateGuru gives you info about wait time thru security, lists all the places to eat, and all of available ATM’s in case you need some extra cash.
  • Genius Scan-Use this app to snap a quick shot of receipts! It can be formatted into a jpeg or even a PDF to make expense reports a breeze!
  • Foursquare-while not really a business travel app, Foursquare allows you to “check-in” to locations like the airport, restaurants, gyms and more for points and to collect badges. Also many businesses use foursquare for discounts and I personally find the tips locals and tourists post invaluable.

One Week Before Travel

What to Pack

Your Carry-on

  • Now is not the time to lug the bag you once dragged your college books in. Invest in a nice laptop bag that is sturdy and professional looking, preferable something in a dark neutral color that won’t get dirty being shoved in that overhead bin.
  • Your laptop: make sure it is fully charged before jetting off in case you are stuck somewhere without a power source and need to update a powerpoint or some other important work document.
  • A notebook: invest in a lined notebook with folders to stash receipts, a print out of your travel itinerary, etc. You never know when you might need to jot something quickly.
  • USB Zip drive: Save important documents you will need on your trip just in case your computer crashes.
  • External battery:This cheap device (most stores sell for around $19.99) can be a huge help if your phone, iPod or camera runs out of juice on the road. Some have different ports to charge your blackberry, your personal phone, or camera at the same time.
  • A few other items you might want to consider packing into your carry-on bag: breath mints, hand sanitizer, and stain remover pens (never have that horrible “spilled coffee on your white blouse discussion before a meeting again”).

Your suitcase

  • Invest in a sturdy roll-a-board bag that can easily be carried on the plane in case you have a quick connection on a business dinner right when you land.
  • Business clothes-always try on your clothes before you pack them in case there is a stain on your black dress pants that you haven’t wore since you first interviewed for the job.
  • Never over pack! Even though you want to have a lot of clothes and other personal items on hand on your business trip over packing your suitcase will be a hassle for you and will look unprofessional if you are traveling with coworkers. Invest in packing cubes such as Eagle Creek’s Frequent Flyer set that will help keep you organized on the road.

Stayed tuned as next we will look at how to stay safe as a solo female business traveler on the road.


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