Going for a business trip is surely an exciting prospect for someone who just got a position whose job description includes out of country trips — business class seats, breakfast buffet, loyalty rewards points, and other perks while fulfilling your corporate tasks.
But ask frequent flyers and many of whom might ditch the so-called perks in exchange for a regular 9-to-5 routine in the office. Business trips can also be an exhausting effort, taking a toll on one’s health, missing quality time with family or dealing with long commutes to the airport, flight delays and possible security risks at their destination. Since this is part of your job, you can either resign or make the most out of every your business trips.
So, how do you make the most of your business trip?
Remain loyal to one airline
Sticking with the same airline, especially if it offers loyalty rewards for every mile you travel. For example, flying with Singapore helps you accumulate KrisFlyer or Cathay Pacific with Asiamiles. Frequent flyers can easily gain thousands of points that can be used to redeem free flights or seat upgrades, free meals or electronic gadgets, jewelry or other gift rewards.
Use your credit card to your advantage
Paying for certain expenses while on a business trip can be reimbursed by the company (please check this before your trip). But it’s not just that. If you have several cards, check which one offers the most rewards. Some cards offer more points on any spend abroad. Other cards offer discounts at certain restaurants. Some cards give you extras such as a complimentary bottle of wine or a free/discounted entry fee to certain attractions.
Enjoy your destination by taking a walk
Many cities have a pedestrian-friendly layout which allows you to bypass taxi and walk around their neighborhoods when exploring for attractions. For example, San Francisco, Hong Kong, New York, and many other cities have walking tours organized to promote the city’s attraction and run by volunteers. If you wish to do it yourself, check certain apps that provide city walking itineraries so you’ll manage your brief break time more efficiently.
Extend your stay
If it’s your first time to visit a city or feel you have more things to explore but constrained by time, you might want to consider extending your stay after your business trip is concluded. This is ideal if you end your trip towards the weekend. For example, if you’re supposed to fly back on a Friday, you might request your boss to book the return trip over the weekend, giving you at least one full day to tour the city as a tourist and not as a business traveler.
Charge food and drinks to your room
Assuming that your hotel bill is charged to a points-generating credit card account, one way to maximize its points rewards is to apply charges of business-related expense to this account. This includes your food and drinks, business phone calls or Internet connection during your hotel stay.
Also check out restaurant and shopping partners associated with your loyalty card and patronize them if possible.
Get up early
It might be challenging on your part especially if you’ve been staying late to catch up with dinners with clients or host colleagues or simply tied up polishing your presentation. But getting up early gives you a wise option of doing something other than the ordinary. For example, instead of heading to your hotel’s breakfast buffet, you might want to explore nearby markets or observe local people while taking a sip of your morning coffee. You’ll also be more rejuvenated and better conditioned to face a long day. You just need to get enough sleep to make this adventure more worthwhile.
Never eat alone
As much as possible, share a table for meals or drinks with a colleague or newly-met associate, and talk about things other than work. This helps you learn more about the city, build a stronger working relationship or simply establish new social connections. They might just give you insider knowledge about the city and better navigate it the next time you happen to pay a visit.
Get out of your hotel room
Hotel rooms are ideal for sleeping only. Unless otherwise necessary, ditch room service and eat like a local outside, hopefully with a list of researched restaurants in mind. Instead of turning on your room’s television to pass time, spend it wisely outdoors. No matter how small a city is, you’ll soon find out there are interesting things it can offer.
Get a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones
While waiting at the boarding gate or commuting from the airport to your hotel, a good quality headphone is something you can invest in. Such devices offer relief from travel related noise and provide great sounding music.
Practice discipline and get rid of bad habits
When you travel, it is possible to form bad habits that put your business trip in peril and could spoil a well-planned itinerary. Here are simple tips you need to practice every time you travel — for business or leisure.
- Keep clean by disinfecting everything in your path: your hands after passing through customs inspection, before eating, before touching TV remote control or folding tables in the aircraft. Wet wipes or disinfecting spray should come in handy.
- Drink lots of water during your travel. Keeping hydrated clears your head, keeps you fresh and fights fatigue and jet lag. So choose water over fizzy or alcoholic drinks.
- Stay comfortable. Wear light clothing in various layers so you can adjust to temperature changes. Bring moisturizer to maintain healthy skin especially inside the airplane cabin where the air is dry.
Make use of a travel agent to arrange rental properties
Instead of booking directly with hotels through their websites or travel aggregator websites, you may instead pick rental properties that offer more homey feel and better simulate the comforts of home, with more space and facilities such as a kitchen. While business hotels offer conference rooms, business centers and fitness gyms for easy access to guests, rental properties offer a nice alternative if such regular amenities offered by hotels are not deemed necessary.
Every business travel opportunity can be both productive for work and exciting journey as sidelight of every trip. While it is not suitable for everyone, those who have the chance to take such business trips should treat every upcoming trip an opportunity to explore new things (food, cityscapes, people) or gain something (mileage points, credit card rewards) while accomplishing primary business objectives.