Travelling can be tricky if you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. If you’re scheduled to go on a business trip, you might be consumed with business concerns and not give any time to personal considerations. As an ambassador for the business, you need to make the most of your trip which can be quickly compromised by making the most common mistakes made by business travellers. Here are the top 5 and how you can avoid making them!
1. Keeping Records
Expenses pile up as you travel. When you return, your boss will most likely ask you for an expense report. This might be when you remember you did not keep any receipts and paid with cash for most transactions! You need to keep a record of everything purchased. Get a receipt for everything you can and, in other cases, make notes of expenses. There are some apps now that can keep a record for you – you just have to remember to put the numbers in!
One strategy I use is to have an envelope where I place all my receipts at the end of EVERY DAY. I keep cash purchases to a minimum, preferring to accumulate Frequent Flyer (FF) points with my purchases, plus the payment period on a credit card meant I would get reimbursed from the company BEFORE the bill is due (when I worked for someone else). Otherwise, you end up “funding” the business with your cash!
2. Lack Of Wi-Fi / Internet Connectivity
Do not assume that Wi-Fi is everywhere you will be or that it will be free. You could put yourself in a tight spot if you need to send an urgent email and can’t find an Internet hotspot. Today, this is akin to being organisationally incompetent. I witness it with clients from time to time – they are “offline” unexpectedly and their whole day/week or trip becomes a mess of missed calls, emails and totally avoidable STRESS.
Connectivity is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, just as much as a clean, quiet hotel room is.
3. Not Informing The Bank
Nothing can make someone panic quite like an ATM denying their request for cash while in a foreign country. When this occurs, most often the bank’s anti-fraud systems have detected an unusual transaction and has temporarily protected your account, much to your frustration. If you inform your bank of your travel plans prior to your departure, they can insert a message if and when any signals come up so they can be overridden by the remote operator. This gives you peace of mind that you will have access to your money, while also protecting you from suspicious purchases.
4. Unnecessary Trips
This one is self-evident except in many cases it doesn’t seem to be. People usually only consider the costs of travel – totally forgetting the opportunity costs of not being ‘at work’ or ‘home’. I am not against business travel, in fact I encourage it, but not at any cost.
You need to assess the costs and benefits of every trip. Ask questions such as:
- How long is this trip going to last?
- How long will it take to get to your destination?
- What is the time difference between your current location and the destination?
- Can you combine more than one destination, client, project or outcome?
- Can you combine this trip with vacation time off?
- Can you include family to kill two birds with one stone?
- What is the opportunity cost of being away?
- Is this the best to go?
- Can it be scheduled to include a weekend and/or holiday?
- Can you accomplish the same goal via a video conference call?
If the answers to these questions are in any way problematic, seriously consider whether or not the trip has to or should be made. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take trips – but the cost/benefit equation should stack up to a positive result.
5. Knowing When To Stop Travelling
Let’s face it, we have seen or heard the stories of the “roadwarriers” (travelling salespeople) who are “always on the road”. Some have to do it as part of their job, but many do not. They fail to see the alternatives and often with serious consequences to their health and/or home life.
Burn-out is one of those things you never quite recover from. I have seen the permanent scars it has left on victims. They are never the same after pushing themselves “beyond the limits”. Don’t do it, it’s not worth it.
You should not ignore the signs of physical ailments and make matters worse by pushing through to a breaking point. Listen to the signs and know when something is too much for you to handle. You will not benefit your employer or yourself if you are too ill to perform in meetings, negotiations or other demanding activities. It’s worse when you travel because you have to deal with time zones, a new environment and additional stress and distractions.
These mistakes are common but also quite avoidable.
Ask your travel agent about security plans, like the ones offered by FCm Travel, in case any mishaps happen while you’re away from home. As I always tell people:
“An ounce of perspiration is worth a gallon of blood”
-- Dr Marc Dussault