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 Making the Most of Your Business TripBetween travel expenses, tight schedules, and an unfamiliar place to navigate, the idea of going on a business trip can be enough to make you want to hide in your suitcase.

And while your upcoming trip is a far cry from sunning yourself on a beachfront property of a five-star hotel, it can actually be a welcome break from the day-to-day office grind, offering you a fresh perspective and some great opportunities to network.

It’s all about planning ahead so that you know exactly where to go, what you need to accomplish, and how to avoid spending your life savings in the process.  

Plan Ahead

If you’re traveling somewhere new, it’s a good idea to look over your itinerary and schedule in advance to ensure you’re always where you need to be and that you aren’t scrambling to get there. Be sure to factor in travel times both to and from your hotel so that you never have to rush.

It’s also a good idea to do some research prior to your trip just to get a lay of the land. Check out local food options, get a feel for how late places stay open, and look for gaps in your schedule where you can take in whatever your particular destination has to offer.

Use Travel Time to Your Advantage

Unless you’re physically driving yourself to your hotel, take advantage of your travel time and get things done. Catch up on emails, get some writing done, and tackle any items on your to-do list that can be accomplished remotely. The more you can cross off your list, the more time you’ll have to get settled comfortably once you arrive.

Curb Your Spending

One of the biggest traps first time business travelers fall into is overspending on their trip. Avoid this by researching prices ahead of time and coming prepared with what you need. You don’t want to be roped into buying an eight-dollar toothbrush from your hotel gift shop when the local convenience stores have closed.

Gas, parking, and dining costs can also add up quickly as well, so make sure to establish what you’ll need to pay for out of pocket and what costs will be covered by the company, if any.

Seek Out New Opportunities

Even if your business duties wrap up at a predetermined time each day, that doesn’t mean you should make a beeline to your hotel room after and call it a night. Make the most out of working from a new location by looking into any local events, conferences, networking opportunities, etc. that could help you in your career.

Or, use your downtime to check-in with any contacts or clients who may be in the area. Nothing beats face-to-face communication, and this could be the perfect time to reconnect without having to arrange an additional trip. Remember, it’s not everyday you’re in a new city, so why not seize the chance while you can?

Keep it Professional

Whether you’re traveling with your staff, your fellow employees, or a supervisor, you should uphold the same level of professionalism you would in an office environment. Don’t let loose just because the restaurant you’re at happens to have an open bar; remember, this is a work trip, not a vacation.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a nice dinner out with some co-workers, but don’t forget about that early morning meeting tomorrow that you need to sleep before, either. Like anything else, it’s a balance; you don’t want to be holed up in your hotel room each night missing out on the trip, but you also shouldn’t be wandering the streets of an unfamiliar city into the morning hours.

Just keep it all in perspective and gain everything you possibly can from the trip, and you’ll return invigorated and ready to take on new challenges.