How to Show Up at the Top of Your Game

Intercontinental business travel can be grueling. So when I mentioned here that I still enjoy it after all those years, this prompted a question from a business friend: “Do you have any tips for getting the most out of a trip?”

As it is, my business travel preparations and routines are probably not that much different from yours, and my annual tour schedule is not nearly as rigorous as what this guy subjects himself to. Still, the question made me think about my personal “best practices” for business travel.

It’s not like I’ve systematically developed a particular regimen for trips abroad, and I’m perhaps not the best person to ask for the newest tips for getting extra mileage out of airline or hotel loyalty programs. A whole blog sub-genre is dedicated to covering corporate travel from the accounting, finance and organizational perspective.

Traveling for Results: 10 Tips

How to set up an international trip to achieve optimal results at the destination? I hope you’ll find the following thoughts useful:

  1. Tie up all possible loose ends before preparing to depart. That includes ensuring that the person/s handling affairs in your absence have undergone proper data security/anti-phishing training, to prevent business email compromise (BEC) scams.
  2. Learn about the destination and the specific area(s) where you’ll be staying and conducting meetings. Possible resources include the State Department’s Travel Advisories, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Risk Briefing, Wikipedia’s Wikivoyage, and Tripadvisor.
  3. Catch up with the current “talk of the town” in the business and financial media destination country. My trips frequently take me to Germany, which makes this part easy for me because I’m fluent in German, going back to the years I spent in-country earlier in my career. Even if I didn’t speak German, English-language publications such as the Morning Briefing of Germany’s leading financial publication Handelsblatt would cue me in.
  4. Anticipate problems like flight delays, lost luggage and local rush hour traffic upon arrival. Book and schedule flexible.
  5. Avoid caffeine on the day of travel and especially in hours leading up to the flight.
  6. For overseas travel, fly business class if possible. I prefer flat sleeper seats. During the flight, I sleep as much as possible to arrive well rested.
  7. Because I don't want to wait up for the meals or eat something that could keep me awake, I skip all meals on those flights too. Check out a flight attendant’s secret to avoiding jet lag.
  8. Don't use flight time to stay on top of correspondence. Use the time for rest, even if you don’t sleep.
  9. Arrive with enough time to familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Check in at your hotel and freshen up before any meetings or presentations.
  10. Time and local business etiquette permitting, acclimate yourself more with the locale by having a business meal or drinks at or near a location or local attraction worth a visit. In Munich, for example, where I worked for Siemens for several years, that could be one of the city’s famous Biergärten, or, in winter, one of its many traditional Bavarian restaurants.

What are your tried-and-true business travel routines?

I’d welcome your tips and insights - add them in the comment section below the LinkedIn version of this post!

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