Traveling for business is not as glamorous as it seems. As I am writing this post I am sitting in the airport in Detroit (a little know fact, but I was born here). I have a two-hour flight delay as I am returning from a trip to Ottawa, ON. It’s a Friday evening and I wish that I was already home, plopped on my sofa with my cat. But, hence, I am here and making the most of my time by writing a blog post.
First, I want to say that while business travel may not always be fun, I had an amazing trip to Canada’s capital city. I was there meeting with the team from Capital Hoedown, a country music festival that we are working with. We have been working with the local team virtually for a few months so it was great to meet face-to-face. As good as technology is, nothing beats spending time together. During my trip, I was treated by my hosts to some local treats like gnocchi putine and beaver tails (fried dough heaven). In addition to some dining delights, I found Ottawa to be a gorgeous city with a wonderful market and happening social scene. This visit completely changed my view of Ottawa and I can’t wait to return in August for the festival.
I was happy to have the opportunity to have some time to appreciate a city that I was visiting, as I don’t often have that opportunity.
Next week I will be at the PCMA Education Conference in Baltimore. One the session that I will be speaking at is on productivity during travel. I had planned this post to discuss some of the tools that I will be discussing during that session. After my experience this week, I am modifying my post a bit to include ideas to make the most out of business travel, both digital and traditional.
Seven Tips to Make Business Travel Better
1. Take Time to Enjoy the City. We could be in a conference room in Iowa or Las Vegas and they all look the same. There isn’t always time to visit all of the local attractions during a business trip, but there are ways to sample the culture. Ask a bartender what the local beer is, ask your waiter to try the dish that all of the natives eat or ask your taxi driver to take the scenic route to your destination. If it makes sense, walk instead of riding to take in order to take-in the sites. You may have the opportunity to visit the location in the future, but you never know what you will discover during your travels.
2. Double Check Your Itinerary. I speak from experience on this one. Admittedly, I have made errors in travel plans three times….in the last week. If you are a small business, it might be useful to hire a virtual assistant to help with these types of arrangements so that you can focus on your business.
3. Mobile Applications. Having a good set of mobile apps can make travel easier. The ones that I use the most frequently are my airline app, TripIt, OpenTable, HopStop and Weather.com. From travel plans to dining to public transportation, having information at the touch of a button helps ease travel chaos.
4. Power Sources. A lesson that I learned from some friends, including Midori, is to carry a power strip at all times. This helps when there is one outlet at the airport and everyone is stalking it. Simply plug in your strip and make instant friends.
5. Talk to people. It’s not always fun to experience flight delays or to travel on a weekend. However, you never know whom you will meet and where it will lead you. Talk to your server, the guys sitting next to you at the gate, the woman in the taxi line or the person checking you into the hotel. Being friendly helps you discover the treasures of the city that you are visiting or might help you meet a new friend or client.
Travel can be fun and exciting, but it can be tiring and boring. I hope that these tips will help keep you positive and will help make your next trip a little bit easier. I will be sharing more tips on Wednesday at PCMA. In the meantime, I welcome your suggestions on how to make business travel a little bit more fun!