Business travel – it's unavoidable. It's a part of the normal business model. Just about everyone will go on a business trip at least once for their company; even you. Regardless of whether you sell cars or design websites, chances are you will travel for business at least once in your professional career.
If you're going on a business trip, below are a few recommendations on how to morph your business trip into a mini vacation. Follow them closely and you're trip won't be all business.
Small Business Travel Tip #1 – Plan Ahead
If you want to make the most out of your trip, the first thing you need to do is clearly list all business-related items that need to be accomplished on your trip. That includes writing an itinerary for all meetings, business lunches, seminars, conference calls, and travel time needed to get to and from each event. This will help you identify any free time you'll have in between your business functions. By writing out your business itinerary and identifying your free time ahead of time, you'll be able to schedule side trips and tours to explore the state or country you're in, and make the most of your trip.
Small Business Travel Tip #2 – Be Realistic
The one thing to remember when you're on a business trip is that you're there to work. Your trip isn't a free pass to go exploring, clubbing, or site seeing. You're being sent to a specific location to do specific work. If you have the opportunity to do anything that isn't work-related, it's going to be small. There won't be time for day trips to the countryside or wine tasting. You may have time to visit a few local sites and maybe a museum or two, but nothing too involved. Don't expect too much personal travel time on a business trip. Remember, you're not there to site see.
Small Business Travel Tip #3 – Consult the Group
After you've made your business itinerary for your business travel trip and identified your free time, check with the coworkers you're traveling with (if any) before you leave to see if they'd mind if you visited a local attraction or point of interest on the trip. This does, however, open up the possibility of your coworkers asking to accompany you on the side trip, but remember; there is power in numbers. If multiple coworkers are going on a side trip, the better your chances are of writing off the excursion as a business expense. You can say it was a "team building" exercise. Informing your travel companions ahead of time will also eliminate the possibility of causing waves when you suddenly disappear during a 3-hour break to visit a local attraction.
Small Business Travel Tip #4 – Book in Advance
If it turns out you'll have a few hours to see the sites on your business travel, be sure to book in advance. Some tours require reservations. So, before you leave for your trip, call ahead and see if you need to make a reservation to see a site or participate in a tour. It will save you time and allow you to better balance your time on your business trip.
Small Business Travel Tip #5 – Be Flexible
Even though you've identified your free time and got the OK from the rest of the travel group to see the city, it is possible that you won't be able to see the sites you planned on seeing during your business trip. Remember, you are traveling for business, so unscheduled or unexpected meetings, conference calls, or business dinners might pop up. You don't want to cancel on a client lunch just to see Alcatraz. Be flexible with your plans and be sure to put business before pleasure.
Business travel is something everyone will experience at least once in their lifetime. However it doesn't have to be all business. Plan ahead using the above mentioned small business travel guide and turn your business travel into a mini vacation.