6 Tips for a Smooth, Stress-Free Business Trip

Article written by Andres Zuleta, the Founder of Boutique Explorer

Do you have an upcoming business trip? Whether you are traveling across the country to showcase your product to a potential supplier or meeting with manufacturers in a different continent, it is paramount to do a bit of pre-planning for your trip. This will help ensure that your travel experience is well-organized, streamlined and, most importantly, enjoyable. The last thing you want to do is take a business trip that causes you nothing but stress and aggravation.

In my journey as the founder of Boutique Explorer (a company that plans private luxury trips around the world), I know how important pre-planning is for a successful trip. So to help with your travel plans, here are some of my own tried-and-true tips for a smooth and stress-free business trip:

Less Time, More Structure

To make the most of your valuable time, I recommend planning short but highly efficient business trips. For example, I’ll often go to Mexico City for just two days or Tokyo for four days. I find that with less time, I’m able to achieve more with less energy.

To make this work, organize your days strategically, such as by scheduling meetings for each meal (for example, a breakfast or coffee meeting, a lunch meeting and a dinner networking session). I have found that this makes business trips extremely productive, and you should still have some time in between to rest, exercise or catch up on other work.

Book Comfortable Accommodations

As a business owner, you are likely always thinking about your enterprise’s bottom line and may therefore be tempted to just book a cheap hotel. After all, you won’t be spending much time there. However, staying in uncomfortable accommodations can make your trip a lot less enjoyable and prevent you from getting the deep, rejuvenating sleep you need to be on top of your game for the next day’s business activities.

Because of this, I always find it’s worth spending a bit extra to ensure you’ll have a truly restful place to recuperate, whether it’s a hotel or Airbnb. This way it’s also a treat to head back to your accommodations to recharge in between meetings. Obviously, location is essential too, to save time and energy shuffling back and forth.

Con Digital Spine, los clientes de Aeroméxico y Delta hacen check-in desde sus dispositivos. (Photo: via iStock / Getty Images Plus /j acoblund).
A business traveler checking into a hotel. (Photo via iStock / Getty Images Plus /j acoblund)

Book Pleasant Flights

Yes, the flight from NYC to California with two layovers may save you some money. But what’s the point in exhausting yourself with various connections and stopovers if you’ll not only lose time but also be less fresh for your business trip? Even though it’s pricier, always go for nonstop flights when possible. Maximizing your own time and energy (and minimizing travel time) is a worthwhile investment.

Organize a Thorough Itinerary

There’s a time and a place for just winging it, and a business trip is not it. You don’t have to make a spreadsheet if that’s not your thing, but at the very least write out your schedule for each day in your phone’s notes app or even on paper. Think about your day in chunks: on certain days, it may make sense to plan down to the minute, while on others you may just schedule fewer, longer meetings.

Walk yourself through each day and think about logistics, too. Will you need a rental car? Make sure to rent one well in advance. If you’re driving from place to place, will traffic be an issue? Check Google Maps at different times of the day, and give yourself some buffer time. If you’re scheduling meetings at restaurants or coffee shops, don’t leave it to chance: make reservations when possible.

I’m a planner by nature and profession, but if every single second of my day is pre-planned, it can feel claustrophobic. So I also make sure to include some unstructured windows of time (to relax, explore, exercise or just take a nap). It’s not a vacation, but decompressing a little helps keep me sharp and motivated during a busy business trip.

Pack Travel Gear Wisely

There are so many products out there that can help make your business trip more comfortable, stress-free and pleasant. Here are some travel essentials that I always bring with me on my own business travels:

Noise-Canceling Earbuds

I’ve looked at larger noise-canceling headphones, but because they take up so much space, I love my compact noise-canceling earbuds. There are cheaper options that offer some noise-canceling functionality, but if you love music or are sensitive to sounds, go higher-end with a headphone company that actually specializes in hi-fi audio. The noise reduction will work better and make it far more pleasant to relax, sleep, work or watch movies during your flight.

Portable Charger

This is a no-brainer! When you are traveling to a meeting, it can be stressful when your phone or tablet battery is low and you don’t have ready access to an outlet. The one thing to always remember before your trip is to make sure your portable charging device is fully charged. For most trips, just one charge on the device can provide multiple charges for your phone. Buy one that is as small and light as possible, as some models are fairly heavy.

Toiletry Bag With Leak-Proof Toiletry Bottles

The last thing you want is for a cheap drugstore toiletry bottle to leak in your luggage and all over your clothes. Even for business trips, I recommend purchasing a set of toiletry bottles designed for active outdoor adventures. They will seal beautifully and prevent even the slightest leak!

Shirt Protector

Whether you’re traveling with a duffel bag or rolling suitcase, I recommend using a slim shirt protector, which keeps button-down shirts nicely folded and generally wrinkle-free. If you’re a stickler for wrinkle-free clothes, you may still need to do some ironing when you reach your destination, but on the whole, it’s a time-saver and also helps make packing smoother.

travel toiletries
Travel toiletries. (Photo via nadisja / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Enjoy Yourself

Since I’m in the travel industry, my business trips tend to be enjoyable by nature: I’m usually meeting guides and local experts, checking out hotels and restaurants and exploring cities – all for research. But no matter what industry you’re in, I recommend breaking up meetings with other fun activities to make the most of your trip and keep you relaxed. For example, see friends where possible, splurge on a massage, go kayaking after your trade show, check out a local street fair or do something else to take a break from pure business. Trust me, you will leave your trip much more fulfilled!

To Wrap It All Up

Pre-planning is absolutely essential for a smooth and stress-free business trip. To make the most of your business travels, plan for less time and more structure, book comfortable accommodations and select pleasant flights. Also, put together a thorough itinerary and bring along helpful travel gear. Finally, add in some leisurely activities so that you can enjoy yourself! Following these tips should help you have a relaxing, hassle-free and delightful travel experience.

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