It seems that business trips and pleasure are mutually exclusive, at least based on the famous question we keep getting asked at airports. There is some truth to this notion if we examine what business trips usually entail. For starters, the explicit goal of a business trip is to do work – not the most exciting prospect in the world. Second, we don't get to choose where we're traveling – flying thousands of miles to spend a week in Mumbai during a monsoon is a bit far from comfort. Finally, whatever you think of your coworkers, you probably don't want to spend extended hours traveling, eating and sleeping together. If this wasn't enough, we need to remember that the usual travel grievances such as packing, waiting in line, jet lag, etc. also apply, adding an additional layer of annoyance and discomfort.
But are business and pleasure necessarily opposed, just like work and leisure? We believe that a lot of the aforementioned gripes can be handled effectively, making business trips pleasantly bearable. In order to find out how to survive an extended business trip with minimum discomfort, read the rest of our guide below.
Some business trips have a tight schedule, others are more flexible with available time. In both cases, proper planning is essential for accomplishing work-related goals, while keeping stress to a minimum.
To plan out your trip in more detail, start by figuring out the time-frame of every activity you will be engaging in. This includes work-hours, rest, transportation, eating, hygiene and social events. Proceed by mapping these activities to their locations, and then find the shortest possible route between each of them. Finally, determine the sequence in which the activities should be performed. This kind of approach will give you a general outline of where you need to be at any given time, which saves a lot of time and effort down the line.
Packing for a trip is more of an art than science. It is easy to go overboard, whether by packing too much stuff or by neglecting to bring essentials. The best way to learn how to pack is through experience, but there is some general advice which everyone ought to follow.
Before starting to pack, find a suitcase of the appropriate size. There is no use lugging something heavy around if you'll only be staying for a couple of days. Conversely, a single bag is hardly enough for a week-long trip with many activities. Follow it up by creating a list of essentials such as clothes, hygiene products, electronic equipment, documentation. Then pack your things slowly and neatly, making sure everything firmly fixed in place. Finally, if there is some extra room left, you can add non-essential, occasion-specific items such as evening clothes.
Business trips are all about doing work, but this doesn't mean you shouldn't take the time to rest and unwind. If you push yourself too hard, not only will this make your trip miserable, it will also impact the work you are supposed to be doing.
Different methods of stress-release work for different people. For some, entertainment is a way to put their worries at bay and relax. Try watching a film, listening to music, or read a book. Others prefer to use tricks from the Far East. Meditation and yoga are the most common examples of this approach, and they can be practiced in pretty much any setting. Engaging in some form of physical activity is also a route many people take. Corporate apartments often have recreational facilities such as pools or a gym, which provide a great way to blow-off some steam.
Most business trips cover a good portion of the expenses, but this doesn't mean you should take every opportunity to spend as much as you can. It is easy to go overboard with the bill, and even if you stay within limits, it is a show of bad manner to indulge just because you can.
Being frugal is not as hard as it sounds, you just need to follow a couple of rules of thumb. First, find out the kinds of expenses your company will be covering. Accommodation, food and work-related expenses are usually included by default, but some companies will cover other expenses if they can be properly justified. Second, create an outline for your budget and spending, and keep track of it day after day. This will allow you some estimate on whether you are spending too much, or not enough, every given day. Third, spend extra money only for convenience, never on luxuries. Paying for an expensive cab ride to reach a meeting in time is justified, ordering an exclusive meal at the restaurant is usually not.
Business trips have something of an undeserved reputation. While they have the habit of going South when you least expect them, with proper planning and care this risk can be greatly reduced. So next time the airport clerk asks you the famous "Business or pleasure?", try saying "Both."