It may be a while before your small business is big enough for you to travel first class and get whisked away in a limo when your land at your international business destination. In the meantime you can take advantage of all the amenities airports and hotels have to offer that allow you to survive the trip while presenting a professional composure.
The most basic survival tip is to start out by packing light. Keep in mind you won’t have a personal Sherpa carrying your luggage, so take only what you can comfortably hump around the airport. Once you get to the hotel and park yourself in a room it doesn’t matter, but the time from leaving your car prior to the flight and getting to the room is another story.
You’ll have to rely on travel knit suits that “unrumple” by spending the night on a hanger. It’s ok to take other clothing that requires ironing but it must be lightweight fabrics such as nylon, rayon and spandex. All hotels have irons, so leave yours at home! Oh yes, you only need one pair of dress shoes. Take sneakers or sandals for between meeting hours.
Take your curling iron but not your hair dryer. All your toiletries need to be travel-size. If you do a lot of this for your business, consider having a second set of makeup and beauty items in a travel kit ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Take the basic technology you’ll need to do your work. A laptop computer is essential but don’t stuff your computer bag full of documents and accessories. Buy a computer bag with wheels. Get a pocket-size projector to do your presentations. Get a cell phone with a data package that allows you to tether. Most airports and hotels have wireless Internet access, but just in case it goes down, having your phone as a backup is good practice. Depending on where you are going you might need a travel plug converter.
Most hotels have shuttles that make frequent trips to the airport. Call ahead to make arrangements for a pickup; some of them stop running after a certain hour. Otherwise you may be able to share a cab with a colleague. Don’t rent a car unless you have a lot of driving to do. It’s an unnecessary expense if it’s going to sit in a parking lot for the duration.
Restaurant food can get tiresome if you have to eat a lot of it. Leave a little space in your travel bag to pack some trail mix or other healthy snacks that keep you going between meals. Hotels typically provide a decent breakfast offering, and you can grab a piece of fruit to have for “elevenses.” If you know you are going to be really pressed for time and your flight is relatively short, take some frozen dinners in insulated lunch bags. Pop them into the fridge in your hotel room the moment you arrive.
Keep your wallet, passport and valuables with you at all times. Never leave your hotel room unlocked. Take advantage of the hotel staff for informing you of area services. They are usually one of the best resources you’ll have while on a business trip.
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