Preparing for the Trip

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Regardless of the reason, it has come to your attention that a business trip is in your future. Perhaps you are traveling as a representative of a large corporation or you are a business owner that wishes to expand your territory. In either case, travel preparation, packing, transportation and business meetings are in the offing.

Business Travel Gadgets recommends that during the trip your focus should be on your business objectives. The details of the actual travel should be planned well in advance and not distract from successfully meeting your business goals.  Travel preparation, proper business travel planning and effective travel follow-up are exactly why Business Travel Gadgets was created.

We welcome you to review and/or download the many travel tools that we provide. Spend some time reading the articles that pertain to the challenges you may face when getting ready, getting there and getting things done during your business trip. Before you know it, your next trip will be planned and reservations will be confirmed, allowing you plenty of time to relax and get back to business.

How should I get there? Fly or Drive?

Pin stuck in New York on a map - Preparing for a business trip

One of the first decisions you may need to make is whether you will drive or fly to your destination. In many cases this decision will be obvious, but if your destination is, let’s say, between 300 and 500 miles from your home office, this decision will require a bit of research.

Let’s begin our research by reviewing some factors that may impact your decision. Here is a list of items to consider when selecting your mode of transportation:

Price – The cost of airline tickets will be a huge factor in your decision. So expect that when your travel distance starts to reach or exceed the standard 500-mile mark, flying will begin to make financial sense. As a quick example, if we were driving 500 miles one way, gas (priced at $3/g) would cost about $ 125, where a plane ticket would cost anywhere from $150 – $250.  Of course this does not factor wear and tear on the vehicle or the cost of a taxi, but the point still remains, generally the 500 mile mark is the decision making standard between driving and flying.

Time – Obviously, your schedule may dictate which mode of transportation you ultimately choose. When flying you are restricted to airline schedules and driving will certainly take longer. So as you develop a travel itinerary be sure to include travel time and determine how much time you are willing to commit to transportation.

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Packing – Let’s face it, airlines are strict and these limitation may impact your ability to take everything you need. Of course there are options, such as shipping larger items directly to your destination, but this adds cost. And you stand the risk of the item getting lost or not arriving in time. If you need to transport larger items, driving may be the better option. You may also want to consider driving, if you are transporting excessive baggage or if the items you are transporting are expensive or sensitive to travel.

Half and Half – A not-so-popular option might be to fly one way and drive the other.  This may be a consideration if time is a factor in either direction, or perhaps you would prefer to take a leisurely drive home and see some sights.  In some cases, I have heard from business travelers that want to stop off and visit family on the tail end of a business trip.

Again, regardless of your reasoning, do not feel that you are restricted to either driving or flying in both directions. This is a customer service driven world and you should be able to make the best decision for your personal needs.

Try a Travel Calculator

A handy tool for determining whether to drive or fly is the “Fly or Drive” Calculator. This online tool will help considerably with determining the most cost effective of the two options, driving or flying.  We have provided a link to the best calculator we’ve found located on BeFrugal.com. The good people at BeFrugal.com have a true Business Travel Gadget with this tool and we just love that.

GO TO BEFRUGAL.COM’s FLY OR DRIVE CALCULATOR

Lastly, on the topic of “How do I get there?”, I would be remiss if I did not mention that driving and flying are not your only options. Buses and trains are perfectly suitable choices in some cases. Business Travel Gadgets will review some of the benefits and drawbacks of selecting a bus or train for your business travel in later posts.

Preparing for the Trip – One Month Out

Some travel preparation items are best taken care of, well in advance.  Any travel agenda item that is highly popular will require some advanced planning, if you are expecting to stay in a resort area for example, you will want to plan accordingly.  I have know popular ski resorts that are fully booked well before the ski season opens.  Popular restaurants, shows and meeting rooms can fill up very quickly and will require advanced reservations.

Check out this travel tip from “Travel and Leisure”:

a year’s worth of searches and found that six months before departure, domestic ticket prices were about 20 percent higher than the lowest fares. They started dropping three months out and hit a low three to seven weeks before departure. Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last week, when prices shoot up—by about 25 percent, according to Kayak.

Obviously we may not have the luxury of a seven week window, but when possible, do your best to purchase travel tickets well in advance.  Other popular business travel websites indicate that any form of transportation is cheaper when purchased in advance, including buses and trains.

Start preparing your Packing List early as well, 20 to 30 ahead of your scheduled departure date.  For help preparing you Packing List, visit our Business Travel Packing Page. There may be items on your list that need to be purchased or ordered online, this could take up to 10 for shipping.

Make sure you have the pets taken care of well in advance as well.  Pet Care Services are often difficult to find with short notice.

Here are a few more items that should be scheduled early:
  • Cancel or re-schedule business meetings
  • Also remember to schedule rooms for meetings during the trip.
  • Arrange to have your bills in advance of the trip.
  • Get you prescriptions filled, if necessary
  • Have your vehicle in for maintenance, if you plan to drive.
  • Check your luggage: Is it in good condition?
A few days out, make sure you prepare the following:
  • Suspend newspaper delivery
  • Suspend mail delivery
  • Have all of your travel documents ready
  • Make certain all reservations are confirmed
  • Keep up with yard work and household chores
  • Prepare for trash pick up, if necessary
  • Empty refrigerator of older items
  • Set up you “Out of Office” messages
  • Give your plants a shot of water
  • Set your heating or AC accordingly

Should You Obtain Travel Insurance?

It seems like in today’s world, we are always being offered an extended warranty or insurance of some kind.  And as we all know, obtaining insurance for any reason can be a complicated decision. This is certainly the case for Travel insurance, in particular, because it is not a very common form of insurance. In fact, I would be pleasantly surprised if more than half of my readers had even heard of travel insurance and we are the “well-traveled” ones.

Business Travel Gadgets strongly recommends that you consider obtaining Travel Insurance and we recommend that you use Travel Insurance.com to compare prices and policies.  In my experience the cost of travel insurance will range from less than 5% of the total cost of your trip to just under 10%, depending on the coverages you choose.  The alternative is to take the risk of losing much more when any of the potential problems occur during your trip.

A few of the coverages you will find with travel insurance include:

Close up of a store front - Travel Insurance

  • Trip Cancellations – Prepaid expenses that are non-refundable due to unexpected cancellations
  • Trip Interruptions – Prepaid expenses that are non-refundable due to an unexpected interruption
  • Travel Delays – Covers expenses for unexpected delays such as hotel stay
  • Baggage Delays – Covers needed items if your luggage is lost or delayed
  • Theft – Covers items that are stolen during your trip
  • Medical Emergencies – Depending on the coverage this could include emergency transport and treatment
  • Life Insurance, Accidental death and Accidental dismemberment are other options

As mentioned this is by no means a comprehensive list. BTG does recommend that travel insurance should be part of your travel preparations.

Click on the banner below to find out more:

What about Points, Rewards Programs and Frequent Flier Miles?

Reward programs should ALWAYS be part of your travel preparations. Virtually every facet of travel will offer some sort of rewards program, from rental car companies to credit cards, hotels, airlines and even gas stations.

Spend some time and make sure you are signed up and receiving additional benefits for your travel dollar. It is possible to sign up and receive upgrades or benefits immediately when utilizing a rewards program. Never hesitate to ask if a rewards program exists and do not forget to remind companies that you are a rewards program member.

Review your Corporate Travel Policy

If you are traveling for corporate business, it is always wise to review any corporate travel policies.  Being informed of your companies expections will help to avoid unintentional conflict during your trip and upon your return.

Business Travel Gadgets - Corporate Travel PolicyMost compnaies that require employees to travel, will have polices that cover items such as:

  • Travel expenses and reimbursements
  • Submitting travel intineraries and hotel phone numbers
  • Emergency contact information
  • Expectaions for follow-up and reporting
  • Bleisure
  • Insurance coveerage provided by the comapny

Check the Local News for your Desination

Staying informed reagrding the local events occuring at your destination can prove immensely valuable.  Sporting events, Conventions or Politcal Events can impact an entire city.  I spoke to one business traveler who arrived in Baltimore only to find out the the entire city was shut down for an auto race.

Of course while you are checking the local news, it is nevere a bad idea to check the expected weather.  We have recommended this several times and will likely mention it again.  Prepare for the weather.

Consider a hot spot or portable WiFi device

There are a few things that will put a major crimp in your business trip,  a dead cellphone and no internet are two of them.  Do not assume that the business you are visiting will have guest internet access.  Although it may be rare, many companies have private networks and policies that do not allow visitor to connect.

Brining along ready internet in the form of a hotspot or a cellphone with hot spot capability will prevent you from being cut off from the outside world (electronically speaking). BTG has several recommendations for hot spots in our gadget pages.

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10 comments on “Preparing for the Trip

  1. Aabidah Ahmed

    I always prepare for a trip a week before going. At times I prefer to travel by plane, but other times I would what to drive to my destination. I know travelers love driving to their desired location, this way they get to see places they never have before.

    A travelers guide is a great topic to cover, because some people are so unorganized and just needs a little help.

    even though I do prepare before hand, this was a great read for me. Felt like traveling right now. Thank you.

    Aabidah

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hello Aabidah,

      It always amazes me how little you actually see when you are flying. And of course, you see even less if you are not in a window seat. Anyway, I do enjoy travelling by automobile when the trip is within 300 miles. More than that and I’m looking for cheap air fare. Many companies use 500 miles as a benchmark, but I find it difficult to drive that distance by myself.

      Being prepared is the key to a successful trip.  I am glad we could help with your plans.

      Glenn 

      Reply
  2. Michel

    This is the first time that I have read about a drive and fly calculator and I must say I enjoyed playing around with this one. Sometimes if it is a short flight it is worthwhile to drive, as all that time waiting around in airports sure adds up.

    Some great tips mentioned here in your article about preparing to travel. The Wi-Fi / Dead phone has happened to me before and it is no fun. A power bank is a great thing to also have on hand. Nothing worse than not being able to hail that Uber once you have reached your destination.

    Love the Bagail luggage set, and the best part is the color. Not only is it attractive, but you will be able to spot your bags a mile away if you have this set.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hello Michel,

      I really like that calculator, too. Thanks to the folks at Befrugal.com for allowing us to share the tool.

      If you are someone who travels often and particularly if you are a small business owner, like me, you need to get the most for every travel dollar you spend. And honestly, as someone who travels by car, train, bus or plane. I can tell you that these modes of transportation all have the same motive. To get you there safely and that’s all that matters.

      With respect to your luggage comment, I think the travel cubes are awesome. One thing that most people don’t think about is the wear that hard luggage will cause on you automobile. If you have ever tried to cram 5 suitcases into the back of an SUV, you will know what I’m talking about.

      Thanks again, Glenn

      Reply
  3. Sondra M

    Wow, you have presented a very detailed list of things to consider when you are preparing for a business trip.   

    I come from an audit  and finance office background, so I feel like your suggestion about ensuring that you understand your employer’s  travel policies is exceptionally important.   

    Some companies will require a corporate travel office to book your flights and hotels.   Others will let you do it.    Knowing the budget that you have to stay in is important.  As are the policies regarding meals, alcoholic beverage purchases and rental cars.     

    Do they want you to keep your meal receipts?  Are you allowed to upgrade to a seat with more leg room or not?  Who needs to approve your trip?   Will you have to use a company issued credit card?  Will they give you a travel advance?   

    The better you understand the rules and policies, the less stress you will have to endure.   Of course if you own a small business, you only need to worry about IRS’s rules if you want to be able to deduct the expenses.     

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hello Sondra,

      I must tell you that your comment is more detailed in some ways than my article. So I will likely go back and make a few revisions when I get a chance. And you are correct when you say that corporations will have a variety of policy requirements regarding travel.

      Earlier in my life, I very often found myself struggling with expense reports when the trip was over. In large part due to the fact that I didn’t fully understand the corporate policy.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and I hope that you return for more tips and suggestions.

      Glenn

      Reply
  4. Stella

    If all the tipd inside this review can be adopted, traveling would the most interesting adventure among many others irrespective of it being business trip or holiday. There would be an uptimum fufilment especially when the trip is backup with the right insurance policy. It is good to get many things in place on time so as to make the departure a quick one without any delay. This is a very excellent review that worth revisiting.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hello Stella,

      I agree with you 100% and the thing is that you can very easily adopt every one of the suggestions I have made in this article. Business Travel Gadgets offers travel checklists for everything from packing to planning and even creating your very own travel itinerary.

      Keep us in mind for your nest trip and we will make a trip to remember.

      Thanks again, Glenn

      Reply
  5. Nate Stone

    Hi Glenn, 

    I’m UK based so I do a fair bit of business travel both within the UK and abroad, with it being mainly Europe and the US. I’d never really considered driving in to Europe, but I’m taking my first business trip to Germany next month and that in theory is drivable. I plugged it in to that calculator you recommended and it’s actually coming out as being a couple of hundred pounds cheaper to drive, so I’m to take a closer at that, thanks for the recommendation, I’ll certainly be using that moving forward!

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hello Nate,

      I am always pleased to hear when Business Travel Gadgets save someone money. I don’t get to the UK as often as I would like, but I am a frequent visitor to various parts of Europe an I can understand your hesitation with driving.

      Personally, being from the USA, I have never attempted to drive when across the pond.  The “Fly or Drive” Calculator is an awesome tool and I have heard many great things about it’s use.

      Best of luck on your pending trip and visit us again, please, Glenn

      Reply

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