Having returned from my week-long business trip, I had a few additional thoughts/tips to share based on my various (mis)adventures on the road. Proof positive that, no matter how experienced, wise, or otherwise insightful a blogger might be, that does not mean s/he is immune from errors or mayhem.
You might have a rental car on your trip, you might be taking Uber/Lyft/taxi everywhere, or everything might be handled for you. If you’re handling your own transportation, there’s a bit more stress involved, as you’re getting around in a city you might or might not have visited previously. Regardless, after various moments getting lost or turned around, I can offer up the following tips:
- Try to confirm all of the addresses you are likely to need to get to and from your hotel and work location(s).
- Give yourself extra time to get to wherever you’re going.
- Be aware of local traffic quirks, such as HOV lanes on expressways or regular surface roads, one-way streets, and “metered” entrance ramps onto expressways.
- Take some time to read and internalize any written directions you receive. I learned the hard way that sometimes Apple AND Google Maps can get confused about where you are or even refuse to give directions when you drive yourself off of their intended maps.
- When in doubt, pull over at a gas station and ask directions if you have no idea where you are.
Packing for the Climate
If you’re going somewhere that’s known for cold or snow, make certain you have whatever cold-weather gear will make you comfortable: coat, hat, gloves, boots, etc. If you’re heading somewhere with a rainy climate, bring an umbrella and water-friendly/resistant shoes. If you’re packing for a dry climate, bring sunblock if you’ll be out walking a lot, and try to wear business-appropriate clothing that will not cause you to overheat (wool suits are a bad choice, for example).
And while I’m on the subject, check the local news for a reliable weather forecast. Local meteorologists will provide insights and details that are not covered by your Weather.com app.
Tracking Your Expenses
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again: keep all your receipts.
If you’re traveling on government business, receipts for food, parking, etc., are not as important because you will receive a daily reimbursement for Miscellaneous and Incidental Expenses (MI&E), and only 75% of that rate on travel dates to and from your designated travel city. Sometimes you’ll be asked to track receipts anyhow. Government agencies can get picky about what they will or will not cover (e.g., alcoholic beverages), so you might might need to split the beverages from your food bill…or, crazy thought, just lay off the adult beverages.
If you’re traveling on a company dime, the rules might differ from above, but you WILL want to keep all your receipts, especially for your hotel, air, and rental car expenses. The rest can vary by company policy.
Lastly, if you take some time to play tourist after work hours, don’t expect to be reimbursed for museums, sporting events, cultural attractions, etc. Those are optional and should be on your dime. Don’t even itemize them as business expenses unless the event/location is necessary for conducting actual business with your customers while on site.
Flying There and Back
I’ve been one of those fortunate people who is able to fall asleep on a commercial airliner. However, until this trip I hadn’t realized one minor caveat to that ability: I need a window seat so I can lean against the bulkhead. Middle and aisle seats are well-nigh impossible places (for me) to sleep restfully, either because of people passing by or because of the bumping and fidgeting of people on either side of you. So I’m recommending paying what you can to get a window seat. Of course if you can’t sleep on an airplane no matter what, best of luck to you. Give yourself some extra time when you get home to get caught up on your sleep. You’ll need it.
Safe and productive travels!