Your next work assignment requires you to head out of town for a few days. Whether it’s via plane, train, or automobile, the end result is usually the same:
You’re going to have a few days of business meetings mixed with quiet evenings in your hotel room.
Your feelings about business travel depend partly on whether you enjoy traveling.
Are you one of those bit by the traveling bug who flourishes away from home? Or do you prefer the stability of your typical routine?
Maybe you already feel overwhelmed by your schedule. If you do, you probably see the trip as just another task on your to-do list.
The downtime on your business trip doesn’t have to be a waste, though. You can use it productively to forward your personal and/or work goals.
Even if you only have a few minutes of quiet time, try these tips to keep laser-focused on your targets while you’re traveling.
1. Use Your Devices Productively
We have so many digital devices, it’s hard to narrow down what to pack in our luggage and what to keep handy while we’re traveling.
How you’re traveling plays a big role in this, though.
Got Windshield Time?
If you’re driving, you can stay productive with an audiobook.
What have you wanted to learn but haven’t had time to dig into?
This “windshield time” is the perfect opportunity for you to learn a new language or embrace your intellectual side.
Maybe you’re not interested in anything using your mind right now, though.
Go ahead and tune the world out with a fluff piece by your favorite fiction writer. It’s still productive because you’re refreshing your brain, so you’ll be ready to work when you get to your destination.
Make the Most of Your Passenger Experience
If you’re flying or taking a train or bus, you have a lot more options. Since you’re stuck being a passenger and letting someone else control the direction, use your travel time to your advantage.
Do you have some work tasks you could knock out on the computer?
Check your emails and respond to old messages. Get a headstart on the trip’s agenda by researching the itinerary, guest speakers, or other relevant info.
Or, you could avoid work altogether and start an online course on a subject you’ve been dying to explore.
Try a new skill that will boost your chances of furthering your career path, or indulge in something you’re interested in that has nothing to do with your job.
2. Passively Invest in Your Future
Sometimes, you can be productive without doing anything more than what has to be done anyway.
For instance, while you have a little downtime, research how you can use your current business trip to start preparing for a fun personal getaway.
The more you plan and take business trips, the more you’ll learn about how to take advantage of the benefits. This will help you become strategic in your travel decisions so that you can plan for your future without any effort.
Use Your Work Trip Now to Pay for Future Vacations
Did you get to use a business credit card to book your trip?
Was the hotel or flight booked in your name?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, you could have travel perks you’re not aware of. Frequent flyer miles and hotel points don’t have to be used for a business trip, even if it was your job that sent you there.
You can upgrade your room or get discounts on your next trip by using your current booking info. If you don’t already have one, create an account to add your miles or hotel booking and start earning perks.
…Or Let the Experts Do the Work For You
Unless your company does all the planning and booking, you’re wasting a lot of hours preparing for your trip.
You want the best deals, but your boss has to approve the itinerary. You can’t go over budget, but the one you’re given might not be feasible.
It’s a headache that you can avoid by using a corporate travel service that specializes in planning business trips.
These companies take your travel plans and turn them into a comprehensive itinerary for you.
Business travelers are often entitled to discounts that personal getaways don’t qualify for. If you don’t know about these price breaks, you can’t ask for them. A professional lodging planning company like Hotel Engine stays up-to-date on the newest discounts and perks.
Planning your trip through a travel management company gives you benefits like:
- A seamless check-in experience
- Business-class prices
- Knowledge of updated pandemic policies
- Easier local and international business trip planning
- A dedicated customer support agent to answer all your questions
Additionally, you get a professional company to deal with the expense management for you. If anything goes wrong, they handle the reimbursement issues and work on the problem until you’re satisfied.
These companies can give you travel advice to help you plan your trip from start to finish. They’re there to simplify your entire travel experience, freeing you up to have more time to invest in your future instead of dealing with travel details.
Save time and money on business lodging when you join Hotel Engine!
3. Expand Your Professional Network
You’re here to meet with other people face-to-face. What better way to expand your network?
Networking is the key to a successful career. Building professional relationships could also help you in your personal life. You never know who will impact your life or whose life you’ll make a difference in.
If you already have a list of scheduled attendees, you could take the downtime before your meetings to check out their LinkedIn profiles. When you see someone who interests you, highlight them on your list and make it a point to introduce yourself in person.
As you get to know everyone, think about who would be a great addition to your web of connections. Invite them to dinner or to explore the local sights with you. Chances are, they’re trying to fill their hours productively just like you.
4. Plan Your Goals
In the hectic pace of our day-to-day routine, it’s hard to set aside time to plan for the future.
But the time outside of your business meetings is yours. You’re alone, and you have no demands. Why not use this time to plan, reassess, or begin working toward your goals?
Starting from scratch can feel overwhelming at first. Before you jump into a list of things you want to do that end up leaving you feeling like you’re slacking, try to pinpoint an area that will increase your productivity.
Examples of these types of targets could be things like:
- Moving to a neighborhood closer to your job to cut out driving time
- Organizing your home office if you work remotely (investing in better equipment and furniture, clearing out clutter, etc.)
- Learning about and implementing time management techniques, like these tools suggested by Forbes Magazine
- Tracking and limiting your social media use and time spent on other distractions
Now that you have a little extra free time, set some goals to make your life better when you get back to reality. Set deadlines so you can hold yourself accountable, too.
5. Get Organized
Just as we lack the time to set goals, we don’t have a lot of time to get ourselves organized on a daily basis, either. Thus, we often find ourselves running around at the last minute, doing things we know we should have done earlier, putting us behind schedule even more.
You know that all you need is a few hours to yourself, and you could save tons of time later. So now you have it!
What can you organize now, while you’re in the mood to be productive and don’t have hundreds of things on your plate?
Straightening Up Your Cluttered Day
Color-coding your planner or separating your tasks into categories (work, personal, etc.) might help. If you have a digital app and you’re unsure how to use all of its features, you have some time to read the instructions.
How’s your inbox looking these days? Do you have dozens (or hundreds) of red circles reminding you that you’re behind? Mark them all as “read,” and start deleting and unsubscribing to anything that’s a waste of space.
If you don’t already, make use of your email’s “snooze” feature. It’s a great way to archive an email you don’t have time for right now but need to address at some point. You can snooze it until later and it’ll show back up to remind you it needs attention.
Any and all of these are strategic, productive steps to declutter your schedule and add more time to your day. You’ll appreciate the work you put into organizing your life when you get back to the daily grind.
6. Turn Your Trip Into a Learning Experience
Anytime you have the chance to see a new place and learn something new, take it! This is the perfect opportunity to explore a new area and expand your horizons.
Check out the local sights, including family-owned restaurants and shops. These are often full of culture you don’t see in chain stores.
Learning more about the culture and environment of the area can also give you connection points with customers and suppliers from that location. If you’re meeting with someone who lives there, they’ll appreciate that you took the time to get to know their home and market.
Plus, you’ll have a common ground to build from. Talking about local restaurants, landmarks, and events is a great way to break the ice.
Take a stroll around the neighborhood or visit the parks and beaches. Grab a brochure off the rack in your hotel to get ideas of popular entertainment in the area.
Big cities like New York almost have too much to do. Check with your booking company or the hotel concierge to get suggestions for must-sees. If you can’t squeeze it all into this short trip, use those hotel and travel benefits to come back again!
You won’t learn anything new sitting around your hotel being bored. But who knows what wonder awaits you in the surrounding city?
7. Improve Your Health
This trip is an opportunity to take steps toward better physical and mental wellness. By adjusting small habits now, you’ll be able to take the changes into your life when you’re back at home.
A lot of people use trips as an excuse to indulge in “vacation food,” paying for it with a foggy brain and upset stomach during an important meeting. Maintaining your health when you’re away on business keeps you in optimal shape to reach your goals for that trip.
It only takes baby steps to make major strides. Instead of using this trip as an excuse to backslide into unhealthy eating and sleeping patterns, try establishing habits like:
- Walking to any destination within a mile or two if you have the time (and making the time whenever possible).
- Eating a healthy breakfast to start your day.
- Setting a wake-up alarm and sticking to a sleep schedule.
- Drinking more water instead of soda or other unhealthy beverages.
- Filling up on a salad first, opting for grilled instead of fried foods, and picking veggies instead of carbs as your side at restaurants.
The key to a healthy lifestyle is summed up in one sentence:
Choose what you want most over what you want right now.
It’s a hard thing to remember in the hustle and bustle of a busy schedule. But establishing the habit now, while you have the time, can help you segue it into your “real life” later.
We love business trips. They’re an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, see new places, and get things done.
With the right mindset and a little bit of preparation, you can use your next business trip to further your career and improve your life!