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Being sent out-of-town to cultivate new clients, schmooze with big donors, run meetings, or do a million other things that could happen on a business trip can be difficult enough. Don’t make it more difficult for yourself than it needs to be. There are some very simple things that you can do to make your business trip much more pleasant.


Packing – This is the first step in your trip. You’re completely frazzled trying to remember all of that paperwork, clothing, underwear (can’t forget that!) and not to mention your toiletries. The best way to de-stress the packing process is to make a list a week or so in advance of everything that you will need to bring. Spend the next week getting your life organized and then consult that list as you’re putting your clothes into your lightweight travel bag. You really should only have this bag and a laptop, or other work, bag. In your suitcase pack clothes that you know won’t wrinkle, like a wool/cotton blend. That way you don’t have to stress about dry cleaning and/or steaming when you get to your hotel. Also, pack separates so you can mix and match and don’t have to bring a different outfit for each day.


Travel – Once you have packed your bags you will now have to negotiate the airport, bus terminal, train station, etc. As long as man has traveled from village to village trading furs for meat there have been travel delays. Obviously try to avoid unnecessary delays like driving to the airport in the middle of rush hour traffic, but don’t panic about the ones that you can’t control. Just allow for these delays and be prepared to handle them, don’t stress out about it. You stressing out and yelling at the customer service representative that you have a meeting and you have to be on the 4 o’clock to Dulles will not help anyone fix the problem productively. Try to leave yourself at least 3 hours wiggle room, however, the best option is always to arrive the night before your meeting(s) and/or conference.


Sleep – You aren’t getting nearly as much sleep as you think you are when you are on a business trip. Intentionally change your sleep rhythms especially when you are flying over a lot of time zones (make sure you sleep only at night and are awake, and exposed to light, during the day). It usually takes about a day to adjust, so schedule accordingly. If you are only going to be a million time zones away from home for a couple of days then do your best to schedule meetings during your home schedule in the middle of the day, so you know you’ll be awake. Also, book a hotel room strategically; away from bars, elevators, pools, after-prom parties, etc. Finally, eating right and exercise, especially if you exercise regularly, will help you fall asleep in a more normal rhythm.


In the city – Before you leave go to your local bookstore to buy a city guidebook. If you don’t want to shell out the cash for the travel guide then at least Google the city so you will know something. Armed with this research, you will be able to ask relevant questions and have conversations with your colleagues about something other than the meeting you left two hours ago. You will also be able to recommend restaurants, which is always impressive.


In the office – Just do what you do best! Grab that laptop bag with all the files that you remembered to pack, because you wrote a list, and kick some business trip behind!