Work trips can be so fun, but they also pull you away from your normal routines and family life. There is a lot of prep work that goes into leaving for a few days no matter how important or necessary the trip may be. I remember the first time I left both my kids when they were young to do work-related travel. It was hard but I also loved the feeling of being independent and doing really good work stuff while I was away.
Here are 5 tips that have helped me while traveling for work.
01. Prep your home-life first
As hard as it is to be gone, especially if you have children, making sure your home-life is in order and organized will give you the mind space you need while you are away. There is nothing worse than getting calls about who is doing what, where is ___ supposed to be and at what time while you are trying to focus on the tasks right in front of you. It is worth it to take a few hours of brain energy to map out exactly where and what your family members are supposed to be doing while you are away. Make sure their routines are as normal as possible, rides with friends are arranged, lunches are bought and ready in the refrigerator etc. You will be thankful you spent the time taking care of your “home base” first before going out on the road for work.
02. Keep your travel preferences consistent
Whether you are flying or driving to your destination I know how easy it is to be uncomfortable for the sake of being “easy” or “efficient”. Pack and plan for the times you have in the airport to get work done or relax without being needed by children. Be sure to bring your laptop, iPad, or book so you can enjoy a little bit of time to yourself while you are waiting. If you are driving then allow yourself some evening or early morning time to have time to yourself or to prepare for the day.
Also, plan to wear your favorite (comfortable) travel day outfit. More than likely you will be wearing more professional clothes once you arrive so allowing yourself some space before and after to be comfortable is always nice. If you have a specific time of day that works best for you to leave then plan to leave at that time (whether you are flying or driving). It’s no fun to arrive and be groggy because you chose to book the less-expensive red eye flight. You will end up needing time to rest when you arrive, so why not stick to your “work hours” as close as you can to avoid being groggy when you arrive.
03. Remember to charge your clients for travel if appropriate
Unless you are traveling for a conference or other professional development more than likely a client asked you to travel to them or for them. In that case, it is totally appropriate to add a line of travel to your next invoice or to the invoice when you return. This can include a list that covers at least the main meals, gas/airfare, and your sleeping accommodations. Clients sometimes appreciate the itemized list of specific amounts, but if you travel often just putting a blanket travel fee (such as $2,000 if flying; $750 if driving) is enough to satisfy them.
04. List out your travel essentials
I am more of a homebody by nature so when I travel I like to have my favorites close by, especially if I am on an uncomfortable flight.
Here are some of my favorite travel essentials:
- Clear plastic organizing bags: I love how easy it is to see the items inside of a clear, plastic bag. These are more durable and look nicer than a Ziploc bag (although I use those a ton too)! They are shaped as a rectangle and are easy to slide in your purse or suitcase for quick accessibility
- Eye mask: Only use if you are flying, but I do love a good eye mask to block out all light. These are especially helpful if your hotel room doesn’t have good shades.
- Inflatable Neck Pillow: This is mainly for flying but it is handy if you are carpooling with someone who is driving and you can rest for a minute. It packs up small and is easy to inflate.
- Travel Gear: Having items in specific compartments is one of my favorite things, especially after coming off of a long travel day and you just want to know where all your stuff is.
- Water Bottle
- Professional notebook: I have found that having your notes all together from the conference or trip is a nice way to access them later. Having the notebook look professional, simple, and cute always has a way of calling me to take more notes while I’m away.
05. Recharge even though it’s a work trip
Even though it is a “work” trip it is okay to schedule some time in this new place to recharge yourself a little. This won’t be charged to clients of course, but when you go home hopefully you are refreshed and not needing a sick day after your trip. Enjoy seeing new sites and eating new cuisine, take a long walk or even book yourself a spa treatment. Don’t feel too guilty that you are away from your family and enjoy the hard work it took to get you here.
As always, your followers love to see personal stories of what you are up to professionally so document as much as you are comfortable with and share with your people. They will love traveling vicariously through you to new places.