Emily Bernard, Co-Founder of PlacePass shares her expert tips on business travel for entrepreneurs.
Like many female founders and entrepreneurs, I am often on the road. Frequent domestic and international business travel has been a staple of my career not only at PlacePass, but in previous roles as well. While I love that work enables me to see the world (I am in the travel business for a reason!) I also know that business trips can place extra stress on overstretched entrepreneurs. Women traveling solo may face particular challenges. Over countless business trips, I’ve developed a few strategies for making the most of my travels. Below are my top ten tips to help women bust business trip stress.
1. Perfect your packing list.
With so many meetings and appointments to juggle, packing often gets pushed to the bottom of the agenda. Avoid the last-minute rush by making a detailed list a few days prior to departure. I separate mine into personal items and business-related items to make sure I have everything I need for successful presentations and meetings on PlacePass. That way, if you end up packing late at night or early in the morning before your trip, you’re less likely to forget something. There’s nothing worse than having to race by the office en route to the airport just to grab business cards or a product prototype.
2. Own the prep.
In the week or two leading up to your departure, calendar in time to fully prep for each meeting. You’ve made the investment in the trip, don’t blow it by being poorly prepared. Finalize and rehearse presentations; brush up on your talking points; check out your contacts’ LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to see what they’ve been talking about lately. Don’t assume you’ll have time or energy on the flight to get ready for your meetings.
3. Set the right goals.
What does a successful trip mean to you? Set reasonable goals and share them with your team to ensure accountability. At PlacePass, I utilize Trello to share trip plans and ensure my team and I are on the same page in terms of target outcomes. For pitch meetings, we take time to discuss optimum, likely, and worst-case scenarios so that we’re fully prepared to handle various outcomes. Don’t forget to set personal goals, as well. Are you looking to try a new food? Experience a local activity? Test out your burgeoning language skills? Keep track of your accomplishments to make your travel personally as well as professionally rewarding.
4. Invest in good carry-on luggage.
It can be hard to look polished and professional, particularly on long-haul trips. The right set of carry-on luggage will help you stay organized and keep your clothes (relatively) wrinkle-free. I’m a Tumi luggage devotee – my Alpha 2 fits in almost any overhead bin and has withstood serious beatings from cobblestones, curbs, and elevator doors all over the world. The built-in hangar system makes it easy to unpack quickly and keeps my dresses and shirts looking sharp.
5. Pick the right place to stay.
With so many hotel review websites available, there’s no reason to be surprised. Do your homework to ensure your must-haves will be met. For me, it’s Wi-Fi, a good writing desk, soundproof windows (I’m a light sleeper), and proximity to my most important meeting. I also like to check out the street view of the hotel on Google Maps to get a sense of the neighborhood and know what to expect on arrival.
6. Skip the line.
Avoid long lines at security by enrolling in TSA Precheck. Most major airports now offer this expedited screening service, which lets you speed through security without removing your shoes, laptop, liquids, and light jackets. If you travel internationally, you may also want to participate in the Global Entry program, which expedites your time in customs upon return to the US. Global Entry costs $100 for a five-year period and covers Precheck as well.
7. Build in “you” time.
It’s important to recharge when you’re on the road. Dedicate time for activities that will help you de-stress and manage jet lag. Exercise, meet up with a friend for dinner, or book a local tour or activity that can help you get to know the destination. Many of our customers at PlacePass are business travelers looking to make the most of their free time and connect to local culture in a meaningful way. Make sure you see more than the conference room!
8. Stay healthy.
Take care of yourself so you can be at the top of your game for high-pressure meetings. The basics go a long way here: stay hydrated, wash your hands frequently, try and get as much rest as possible, stay out of the sun. For international trips, there are a few extra things you may need to keep in mind, depending on the destination. If you’re headed overseas I recommend checking the CDC’s website for local health tips and information on vaccinations that may be required. Finally, if you take routine medication, bring a few extra doses and a copy of your prescription in case your return is delayed.
9. Share your itinerary.
Particularly for women traveling solo, it’s a good idea to leave a copy of your itinerary (airfare and hotel) with a family member or a trusted friend. For international trips, I also leave a copy of my passport at home in case it gets lost or stolen while I’m on the road.
10. Maximize your rewards.
Make your business trips work for you! Choose rewards programs or credit cards that match your travel needs to maximize your earning potential. Not sure where to start? Resources like The Points Guy and Nerd Wallet can help you identify the right program for you.
Emily Bernard is co-founder and chief brand officer of PlacePass.com, a travel tech startup based in Cambridge, MA. PlacePass enables people to easily search, compare, and book great local experiences in more than 180 destinations. PlacePass helps visitors explore and book the best options for their travels by aggregating high-quality, local experiences from other tour and activity websites. Emily has more than a decade of experience in sales and marketing. Prior to PlacePass, she led the international sales team at Foreign Policy magazine, where she launched the company’s first in-house nation branding practice. She holds a BA from Harvard College and a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. @PlacePassTravel, @esimon29