The demands of business travel differ from the daily demands of work and the stakes can often be high. Before you pack up for your next trip, keep these tips in mind.
Know Your Personality and Plan Your Day Accordingly
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? It is important to think about how you derive your energy – from time spent quietly on your own, or from interacting with others.
If you are an introvert, do not be afraid to schedule time in your day to work quietly alone, to gather your thoughts, or simply to have a cup of coffee or take a walk by yourself. This kind of downtime is critical for helping you to stay focused, sharp and ready to accomplish your goals when you are face-to-face with clients and prospects or called upon to deliver presentations.
If you are an extrovert traveling alone, business trips can be difficult. If you are at a conference or tradeshow, or if you have built events and networking appointments into your travel schedule, you are around others, meeting new people throughout the day and evening. For extroverted personalities, a full schedule like this, with ample opportunities to connect with individuals and groups, is energizing and productive. Empty schedules and too much time alone can make it harder for extroverts to shine when they need to do so.
If your meeting schedule has gaps, find ways to be around others when you are otherwise on your own. Bring your laptop down to the hotel lobby and have a cup of coffee at the bar rather than in your room. Seek out social spaces and events so that you are not spending too much time alone without anyone to talk to or connect with. Engaging in conversations and meeting new people helps you to think creatively and to maximize your time with the colleagues, clients and prospects you have travelled to see.
Buy – and Drink – Water
Purchasing water and staying hydrated helps to keep you sharp and to save money on business travel. Most hotels have convenience markets and, while they may charge a premium, you are still saving money compared to purchasing water from vending machines or restaurants. If you are staying in a city, you can purchase bottles or gallon jugs of water at nearby grocery stores or drugstores.
More important than the money-saving aspect, having water on hand helps to ensure that you are hydrated, which keeps you focused, feeling good and working well for the duration of your trip. Remember that when you are traveling, participating in meetings, delivering presentations, or sitting on panels, you are talking, and often walking, more than you do on an average day.
All of that means you have to make managing your water intake, and taking care of yourself, a priority. Hydrating frequently reduces headaches, increases your energy level and allows you to talk about your business and build relationships all day long.
Maintain Fitness and Daily Routines
If you always start your day with a run or end your day with meditation, maintain these practices when you travel. While a business trip is not a good time to introduce new workouts to your routine, keeping up the practices of your daily life that help put you in the right frame of mind for success is essential.
As a general rule, think about what you need to stay focused and to perform well, from foods you eat to the news you read, to the small rituals that make up a typical day. When you are able to ground yourself in some of these daily rituals, especially those that promote clarity and comfort, you are less likely to get distracted or thrown off course by the demands and pace of business travel. And you are more likely to achieve the goals you laid out for your trip.
Remember the Difference between a Cocktail Party and a College Drinking Contest
Whether you are attending a conference or visiting clients, a good amount of business is done during cocktail hour. Receptions and happy hours are ideal settings for building comradery, sharing ideas and strengthening business relationships.
That said, it is important to drink responsibly and to remember why you are there. Stay focused on maintaining standards of professionalism and respect.
For a “scared straight” moment, just remember that a tweet lasts forever and everyone at the bar is packing a smartphone.