Words by Carlie Tucker
While some new business travellers embrace the idea of hitting the road with a colleague or two, for others it's a nerve-wracking test in social etiquette. If you happen to fall in the latter crowd, keep in mind the pros of travelling with someone else usually outweigh the cons. For instance, it's easier to avoid the solo business travel blues, and you'll never have to face the dreaded table for one. Plus, if you follow these helpful dos and don'ts, you'll be sure to leave a good impression. Who knows? You may even make a new friend.
Do show initiative in planning and booking.
There's plenty of work to be done before you even hit the road, so take the opportunity to help with planning and booking the details of your trip. Not only does this show that you're conscientious and hardworking, it also takes a bit of pressure off the situation. There's no awkward discussion about how to proceed or dancing around who's responsible for what.
Don't just stick to your own preferences.
In your enthusiasm to kick things off on the right foot, remember there are other people involved in the business trip. Be sure to include your co-worker(s) in on decisions on where to stay or when to fly. You may prefer to wake up before the sun and get to the airport before the morning rush, but your travel partner(s) may be the exact opposite. Discuss and compromise so everyone is happy with the details. Not only will the trip be more comfortable, it demonstrates problem solving and teamwork to the boss.
Do take the opportunity to get to know your colleague(s).
Since you'll be spending a fair amount of time with your co-worker(s) in a more casual setting, maximise the opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level. Try to avoid spending all your time talking about work and venture into common likes or dislikes. You may find you have a lot in common, which makes time on the road much more enjoyable.
Don't over share.
It's easy to get caught up in the more relaxed atmosphere of socialising outside the office but be sure you don't let your guard down too far. Don't say anything you wouldn't be comfortable saying in the office and avoid controversial or overly personal topics.
Do schedule in some 'me' time.
Business travel can be stressful, with meeting-packed days and the pressure of navigating unfamiliar situations. Don't feel bad if you need to take some time to yourself to decompress after a particularly long day. Checking out the hotel spa or opting for a low key evening with room service can help ensure you avoid on-the-road-burnout. Just make sure you touch base with your colleague(s) to let them know you'd prefer a quiet night in.
Don't be anti-social.
A night or two (depending on how long you're on the road) on your own is perfectly acceptable, but do make an effort to socialise with your travel partner(s). Avoiding them all together can give them the wrong impression as well as lead to feelings of isolation. Try to catch-up every night if only just to sync your schedules for the coming day, and schedule a dinner or two together away from the hotel to inject a little fun into your trip.
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Do swap info and coordinate schedules.
You may be pretty independent in your everyday schedule, but don't forget that you're not travelling alone. Before you depart, swap mobile numbers with your colleague(s) so you're able to stay in contact throughout your trip. This is especially helpful for safety reasons should you get separated. It's also a good idea to sit down for planning sessions before and during your trip. This is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals.
Don't be late.
With all of the planning that goes into a business trip, it can all come apart if anyone is late. Make sure you do your part by arriving on time if not a bit early. There is nothing worse than being late to a big meeting or missing a flight because you had to wait for a co-worker. Plus, arriving early to pick up coffee for everyone is a fantastic way to make a great impression.
Do bring headphones.
A great pair of headphones is a must-have for any kind of travel. They can save you from the doldrums of a long flight and offer a bit of extra motivation for a gym session at the hotel. They can even help you sleep if you're struggling to get into a routine away from home. It's definitely one of those items that should be packed in the carry-on first to ensure you don't leave home without them.
Don't get distracted by your devices.
Catching up on your favourite podcast or binge watching the latest TV series is a tempting prospect when you're looking to kill some time on the road, but make sure you don't spend your entire trip with your nose buried in a screen. Take off those headphones and socialise to ensure you're not making your co-worker(s) feel like you're avoiding them.
Do plan some fun activities if you can.
While free time on a business trip is rare, if you do find yourself with a few hours to spare, make sure you make the most of it. This is especially true if you're in a new destination. It's a perfect way to break things up a bit and make your time on the road that much more personally rewarding. Look into local tours or check with the concierge for a few must-sees/dos that everyone will enjoy.
Don't expect someone else to cover your expenses.
Most businesses will reimburse their employees upon return for any expenses accumulated while on a business trip. And while you and your colleague(s) can expect to see a refund, you're still having to fork out the cash at the time of purchase. For this reason, you should never expect anyone to cover your expenses for you while travelling. Offer to pick up the bill every now and again, or have a discussion about how to handle expenses in a way that everyone is comfortable with.