First-time business traveler: What you need to know
When we first start working at a company, many of us are handed stacks of material on codes of conduct, benefit information, company policies, etc.—everything we need to navigate our new internal world. But very rarely are we given a “First-Time Business Travel 101” guide.
Photo by Michael Schoenfeld
When you’re asked to travel on behalf of a company for the first time, it can be a little daunting. More so than when you’re on a personal trip, you’re having to stick to a schedule, dress the part, know where you’re going, make sure you have your meeting materials—and all while being a shining representative for your company.
Granted, there are certain pieces of business travel wisdom that can only come from having spent years on the road as a seasoned traveler. But there are a few easy things to keep in mind that will help your first trip as a business traveler go a little smoother; the three P’s of first-time business travel: Packing, Preparing, and Presentation.
- Never check a bag if you can help it. Think about the meetings, dinners or events you will have to attend, then pack clothes that can easily be mixed and matched, and try to fit it all into a carry-on.
- Keep your liquids and laptop in an easily-accessible spot so you can quickly remove and replace them when going through security—nothing puts a flashing “NEW TRAVELER” sign over your head faster than fumbling through security.
- Other essentials to always have on hand: aspirin, business cards, and cash for tips and taxis—believe it or not, but not all taxis take credit cards. Keep cash on hand, or ask before you hop in.
- Check-in 24 hours prior to your flight so you don’t have to worry about it when you get to the airport. If you have a mobile boarding pass, take a screenshot of it on your phone as a backup—those things can sometimes inexplicably disappear right when you need them.
- Make sure you know your company’s policy around what can and can’t be expensed. Your meals can likely be expensed, but make sure you know what the limits are for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Plan your ground transportation before you go—how will you get to and from the airport, hotel, and meetings? Always check to see if the hotel has a free shuttle.
- Follow a single rule for Presentation: Present yourself in a professional and respectable manner throughout your entire trip, not just during your meetings. You are still representing your company in the airport, at the hotel, and at nighttime events. So be considerate, don’t overindulge if drinks are being served, and make sure your personal stories are work-appropriate.
To our readers who are regular travelers, what are some of the things you wish you would have known on your first business trip?