A few weeks ago I traveled to San Francisco for a work conference. Although this was not my first work trip, it was definitely the most exciting “business” destination I’ve gotten to travel to. There are a few things I wish I had known or honestly, just thought about earlier so I made a list below:
- Don’t worry so much. While this is always something I need to work on as my natural state is anxious, I’ve learned that is even more important during work travel. When a company is sending you to a destination for a work conference, event, etc. any flight delays or travel mishaps will be covered by the company.
- Pack more than you need. While this is the opposite advice of most travel tip lists, business travel is a whole other animal. Unless you’re going for a day trip, and even then, if your flight is delayed, canceled or you lose your luggage, you’ll want extra clothes. Since I was on the same flight as a coworker, I thought it would be helpful to bring a carry on (while she checked a bag). Since I had to wait for her in baggage claim, I should have checked a bag as well. I ended up having to buy an outfit at TJ Maxx (shoutout to the other Maxxinistas) which could have been avoided had I packed more.
- Plan ahead. I love CA and have been to San Francisco before but that didn’t stop me from wanted to be a tourist and go to all of the “hot spots” around the city. While my coworkers and I did have a few hours to kill before the meeting started, I wish we had mapped out our destinations a bit more. We did have an idea of where we wanted to go, but we didn’t get to visit all of the places because we underestimated the distance from one to another. Don’t be afraid to go full on tourist and google map your route prior to landing.
- Figure out the dress code. Although this may involve emailing a few individuals, it’s best to know ahead of time whether you can wear your sweats (jk), suit, or business casual outfit. Since this is a work trip, I would air on the side of professional. It’s always better to be over-dressed than underdressed when it comes to first impressions.
- Do your work ahead of time (and trust your coworkers can handle it). While you’re mostl likely expected to be “on” during these sorts of trips, it’s worth it to stay late a few nights the week prior to have eeveryhing laid out for when you leave. Of course you can expect some things to pop up while you’re out but at least you’ll feel confident leaving the office knowing you’re on top of it. In my own personal experience, I did my best to finish things but ended up spending most nights working late. I wish I had the opportunity to spend more time exploring the city. As a bit of a perfectionist, I was worried that my coworkers would be overwhelmed in my absence. Next time I will make a point to let them handle more of the workload while I’m out.
- Have fun. Yes it’s a work trip. Yes they’re paying to send you. Yes you should be on your best behavior. But, make sure you leave the hotel, even if it’s just for dinner. I’m sure you’ll be in meetings, conferences, or on call most of the time but, if you have a few hours to have fun, jump at the opportunity.