Business travel can be fun and exciting, but it can be messy too. Many travellers will undoubtedly run into hiccups somewhere along the way, which experienced travellers say you learn to overcome with time.
But you don’t need to wait till you’ve done a lap around the country to know how to handle travel issues. We at Caro Short Stay have put together this list of the most common problems business travellers face…AND how to overcome them.
In this post, we hope to give you practical advice and information on overcoming obstacles such as:
- Packing light
- Getting through security
- Dealing with delayed flights or trains
- Keeping track of receipts and expenses
- Getting expense reimbursements quickly
- Minimising jet lag
- Staying fit and healthy
- Forgetting important prescriptions
Business travel can be hard on both the body and mind, and whilst it is rewarding, there’s a lot to keep track of.
Check out our tips on how to be prepared for these common business travel problems.
1. Packing light
Packing light is essential on a business trip for a few reasons. For one, checking luggage at the airport takes up valuable time, making both your departure and arrival a lengthier process.
Secondly, checking luggage on a flight is costly – something which your company will likely want to avoid if possible.
Even if you’re not taking a flight, having less baggage to lug in and out of taxis is certain to put you more at ease. Whichever way you look at it, travelling light is something that’s sure to impress your boss or the people you’re travelling with.
Here are some tips for packing light:
- Choose a small suitcase over a holdall for your carry-on. It’s on wheels and it’ll help to keep your clothes straight.
- If it’s a weekend trip, pack 2-3 outfits at the most. Try to pack items of clothing that all go together so you can mix and match. Stick to neutral colours such as black, white, cream, beige and pastel blues or pinks.
- Shoes are the bulkiest item you’ll have to pack, so try to stick to one pair if you can. Choose a pair of brown or black shoes that go with your other clothes that can be used for both day and nightwear (ladies, always choose flats over heels). If you plan on working out you may want pack a pair of lightweight trainers too.
- When it comes to sundries, take only what you need for the days you will be travelling. Think of ways you can reduce the bulkiness – for example, can you take thinner socks; roll your underwear up small, ball your socks and tuck them between your bras, etc?
- Only take the toiletries that your accommodation won’t provide. Most hotels and apartments supply things like shampoo and conditioner, so you won’t need to pack your bulky bottle of Pantene.
- If you’re travelling for more than a couple of days, ask your boss if laundry can be added to your expenses. This will be a life saver for minimising the clothes you pack.
- Hang up your clothes as soon as you arrive, to avoid them creasing.
- Test all of your batteries before you go to see how long they can last without a charge. You may be surprised at how many chargers you can leave behind.
- Revise your packing list when you get home and see if there’s anything you didn’t use. You know you can leave it out next time.
2. Getting through security on time
Changing airport protocol can often lead to holdups at security, which in turn can lead to missed trains or connecting flights.
- The My TSA app is every business traveller’s best friend at the airport. A real-time operating app, it informs users of current security guidelines ahead of time, including wait-time estimates, information on any potential flight delays, and updates on weather conditions.
- Users can read reviews of others’ checkpoint experience, meaning you can know what you’re in for at a particular airport. And the ‘Can I Bring?’ feature is a godsend, letting you know exactly what may cause problems at security so you can glide on through.
3. Dealing with delayed flights or trains
Delayed flights or trains cause stress for many reasons. Employees lose precious time and risk missing important meetings. They also need a fast and easy way to inform colleagues and superiors of the delay,
- App In The Air acts as your personal flight assistant, keeping you up to date with your flight’s status in real time. It also provides tips and things to know about the airport, such as wifi passwords and places to eat, as well as navigational maps so you can get to the gate in minimal time.
The app works offline, and is Apple Watch supported. What’s more, you can share your itinerary with family and fellow staff, so they’ll be aware of any delays as soon as they happen.
- Gate Guru is an app that helps by improving the use of your time at airports. Like App In The Air, it gives real-time updates about your flight, as well as how to navigate through the airport so you don’t waste any time queuing.
- Avoiding the worst flights can minimise the likelihood of a delay or cancellation in the first place. The IATA World Air Transport Statistics can help to understand the most common reasons why planes don’t get off the ground on time. Checking out the most chronically delays flights can help you be prepared.
- For trains, the National Rail app is an essential, giving you real time updates on platform changes, delays or cancellations, and allowing you to personalise information for future journeys.
4. Keeping track of receipts and expenses
Keeping hold of paper receipts for every transaction can be a real pain. If you don’t forget altogether to grab a receipt for that coffee, chances are it’ll later be lost in a sea of papers when the time comes to file an report.
It’s more important now than ever that employers give staff a way to automatically track expenditure and send expense reports. This simple approach would make travel much less stressful for many employees.
- The Concur mobile app is one of the easiest ways to look after your outgoings on a business trip. By simply snapping a picture of each receipt, employees can add a ‘quick expense’ that they can later use to fire off an auto-generated expense report to their boss.
- From an employer perspective, Certify provides automated expense report software that can be rolled out company-wide. As with Concur, employees take a picture of each receipt through the app, which then becomes part of an auto-generated report.
5. Being reimbursed for expenses quickly.
Ask any regularly travelling employee and they will probably say their biggest bugbear is waiting ages for expense reimbursements.
Filing expense reports can be a hassle after an intense trip. And even after submitting to one’s employer, there can be a long wait for the expenses to be processed in line with company accounts.
Luckily, thanks to automated expense tools as mentioned earlier, there are ways around this problem.
- Certify not only makes it easy for employees to document their expenditure; it also makes it easy for employers to generate reports and ensure employees are reimbursed as quickly as possible on their return.
Employers also have full visibility of outgoings, with customisable insight into how money is spent. This helps them improve efficiency across the business as a whole.
6. Minimising jet lag
Jet lag can be a killer for those regularly crossing the Atlantic. Though jet lag is technically defined as crossing two time zones, studies have shown that it’s symptoms can arise even when the time zone differs by only a couple of hours.
Rather than hit the ground feeling exhausted, drinking 10 cups of coffee and heading to your first meeting, there are better ways to combat the effects of jet lag.
- Start to shift your internal rhythms a few days before you fly. Depending on whether you are flying east or west, you may want to expose yourself to extra light either earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Natural light is obviously best, but blue light from devices counts too.
- Consider whether it’s going to be best to sleep on the plane. Depending on what time it will be in your destination when you arrive, sleeping on the plane may disrupt your new pattern and make you feel worse.
- Choose your plane seat well. If you do need to sleep, it should be somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. If you can’t fly business class, choose the seats with extra legroom, close to the window (so you won’t have people climbing over you), and avoid the back of the plane, where turbulence is felt most.
- Avoid alcohol on the plane as this will make you feel sleepy.
- Fast until breakfast time in the new time zone. This helps to ‘unstick’ your body’s current rhythm and readjust it to a new one.
- Avoid coffee after 2pm.
- Drink plenty of water – at least 500ml for every 15kg of body weight.
- If it’s daytime when you arrive, try to spend as much time in the daylight as possible. If you can, do some gently exercise, preferably outside.
- Try Entrain – an app designed by researchers at the University of Michigan. By simply inputting some basic light data when you arrive, it’ll recommend a sleep schedule in accordance with your body’s natural circadian rhythms.
7. Staying fit and healthy
Travel is not the friend of any diet or fitness regimen. With changing routines, busy schedules, unfamiliar surroundings and tempting dining options, sticking to your usual health goals can often seem impossible.
However, with a bit of pre-planning and some handy apps in your pocket, you won’t need to worry about travel getting in the way of health.
- If you follow a special diet for personal or physical reasons, there are a bunch of apps out there that can help with finding places to eat. Happy Cow is great for finding veggie or vegan options nearby, whilst Find Me Gluten Free can help people sensitive to gluten navigate their way to a tasty meal.
- Urbanspoon is a food app where you can search for restaurants by cuisine, proximity, price and ratings…meaning you’ll know exactly what the area has to offer with just a few swipes. Read other people’s reviews and photos, get directions, and book a table.
- If there’s room in your luggage, pack some healthy snacks so you’ll always be prepared when hunger strikes. Think nuts, seeds, fruits, or your favourite energy bars.
- Schedule in workouts ahead of time, where your business itinerary allows. That way you won’t be worrying about when you’re going to find time to work out…or feel bad about turning down drinks with colleagues.
- Apps such as Gyms Near Me or gymsnear.com help you find the closest gyms to your accommodation. Alternatively, you can use your hotel room using the slew of hotel workout videos online.
- If your hotel room has a mini bar, shove all those expensive treats to one side and stock it with your own healthy snacks instead.
- Not being able to prepare your own meals can derail eating habits, which is where serviced short stay apartments have the edge over hotels. Our Liverpool apartments all come with a fully equipped modern kitchen, so you’ll have complete freedom over your meals…and save money too!
8. Forgetting important prescriptions
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your business accommodation and realising that your medicine is about to run out (or worse, you left it at home).
A business trip is a time when you need to be at your best, so having another stress to add to the list is the last thing anyone needs.
Luckily, thanks to developing technology and increasing flexibility of the NHS, forgetting prescriptions need no longer be a hassle. Thanks to a fairly new app called Echo, you can access your prescription from anywhere via the NHS’ digital prescription service.
The app is compliant with NHS standards and can also be used to remind you when to take your medicine, when to reorder and when to check in with your GP.
- Simply download Echo to your device, and load the medications you’re taking. (You can do this by searching the app’s database or scanning a barcode.)
- Echo will then get in touch with your NHS GP to confirm, and deliver the prescription via any of the app’s 10 pharmacy partners.
- Your medicine can be sent directly to an address of your choice via Royal Mail, free of charge.
Do you guys have any other business travel related problems not covered here? We’d love to know!
In the meantime, check out our range of luxury short stay apartments in Liverpool, sure to make any business trip run more smoothly.