Lessons Learned on the Road: The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Travel
I spent 18 years traveling all over the world for work. As a sales and marketing professional in the semiconductor industry, I got to see a lot of places I would never have otherwise seen and for that I am eternally grateful! And I learned nearly everything in my list below the hard way. When I started out, Little Pink Book was not around to help me, but I am happy to now have the opportunity to share what I learned with you:
- Always dress like you’re going to run into your most important client on travel day. It’s a small world, and chances are good that you’ll meet someone important on travel day. You are representing yourself and your company, and apologizing for what you have on is not a great way to start any conversation. Even if you are on your way in a limo find. I prefer to travel in pants (natural fibers only!) with a fun jacket and top. But a dress or skirt is a nice business travel option, too. I do think it’s perfectly acceptable to travel in denim, but it needs to be tailored as a classic trouser cut like this style from Lee.
- Wear sensible shoes. Regardless of where you go, you will likely have to walk very fast or even run to make flights, trains, etc. I mean run. For miles. Through airline terminals with a roll-aboard and a computer bag. Trust me, this will happen to you. I love the London Fly Pumps because they suit my bad feet and I can run in them. Cole Haan has a cute wedge this season that would make a good travel shoe and these Munro American shoes are perfectly fine with pants in many business situations. And they are made in the USA.
- If you make more than one hotel change during your trip, do not check your bag. Airlines lose bags all of the time. They even bump luggage if they have to weight-restrict a flight due to weather conditions. If you must check due to health issues then pack a change of clothes, cosmetics, and anything you’ll need for the first day at your destination in your carry-on luggage. Briggs and Riley makes a great cabin spinner that is well worth the money. You can get a few days of travel outfits into this bag, and it fits into the compartments of most wee little regional jets too!
- Get TSA Precheck. Even if you only travel a few times per year it’s worth the effort. If you travel internationally, then Global Entry is very much worthwhile. It can be the difference between catching your connecting flight or not. And there is nothing worse than making your travel companions wait for you while you slog through the general security line.
- Use caution when working on the plane. Never work on confidential documents or other documents that you would not want the public to see. People read over other peoples’ shoulders all of the time—in that cramped cabin it’s almost unavoidable. Also, be aware of what you discuss with your travel companions. Airing your company’s dirty laundry is a really bad idea as you have no control over who over-hears or what they do with the information. Best is to use the travel time to read a book or chit chat about your favorite TV show.
Wishing you many happy years of productive business travel!
By Catherine Griffiths Scholze
December 1st, 2023
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