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Blog: Simplify Your Life
Simplifying Business Travel -- Part 1

Most people see business travel as an exhausting process -- pack, unpack, meetings, paperwork, airport security, rental cars, all with no vacation attached! Traveling for your job disrupts your workday and takes a lot of time out of your schedule. But having a set of procedures that you follow each time you hit the road on business can alleviate some of the stress and reduce the likelihood of a problem occurring while you're away from the office.

A Different Set Of Worries

Anyone who tells you that work trips are no different from personal trips is grossly mistaken. Business travel opens the door for a unique set of concerns that you just don't have to worry about when going out of town for pleasure. If you forget something (a bathing suit, a toothbrush, your favorite shampoo) on a personal vacation, you can usually replace it while on your trip. But if a business traveler forgets a presentation, his cell phone power cord, or an important report, the oversight could have much more serious consequences.

Business travelers also feel the constant pressure to be "at work" while they are away. They type on their laptops while sitting at the airport, draft letters on the plane, make cell phone calls in the taxi, talk business with colleagues during every meal -- and are constantly thinking about their job responsibilities, even as they flip channels in the hotel room at night. Consequently, many business travelers never have (or take) the time to relax during their trips, and come back more stressed and worn out than they were before they left. Not good!

Packing For A Business Trip

Problems such as running out of legal paper or misplacing an important phone number are stressful enough within the confines of your office. Without the safety and comfort of "home," feelings of unpreparedness and vulnerability are multiplied on the road. Systematize your trip preparation and you reduce the chances of forgetting something important. If you travel often and on short notice, keep a pre-packed overnight bag ready -- including airplane-sized toiletries, travel alarm, and sleepwear. When duty calls, all you have to do is throw in your clothes and go! You can also save a lot of time by pre-packing a travel briefcase, stocked with whatever you tend to need on the road -- pens, stapler, notepads, paper clips, a calculator, etc.      

Also create a travel folder for collecting those papers and materials (presentation overheads, reference items, unfinished work, travel information, etc.) you will need to take with you. Either fill your folder as you organize your trip -- or create a list as you plan, then gather your paperwork together the day before you leave. Once you have settled on an itinerary, record all of your pertinent travel information (agenda, flight information, hotel reservation) on one sheet that you keep close by throughout your trip. There is nothing more frustrating than shuffling through a stack of papers trying to find your hotel's address with an impatient cab driver waiting!

And it goes without saying that it is particularly important in business situations to simplify your travel wardrobe -- bring items that you can mix and match, that don't wrinkle, and that don't require special care. The last thing that you want to worry about as you prepare for an important meeting is hauling a lot of heavy luggage around, or having to search for a dry cleaner at 9 PM on a Sunday. Of course you need to dress is appropriately for the occasion, but you can avoid over-packing by thinking through your clothing options ahead of time.

Traveling For Convenience

Your goal is to get to your destination with as few delays as possible -- and on business trips, you can avoid many of the frustrations experienced by the typical "Expedia-Orbitz-Hotwire vacationer" by making your arrangements through a travel agent. Please don't misunderstand me -- I love the do-it-yourself internet travel sites, and use them all the time when I don't have a tight schedule to keep. But you pay for those discounts and savings in another way -- with limited travel options and restrictions on your flexibility.

A reliable travel agent will not only save you time and worry but also money -- even in this wonderful age of "I-can-find-anything-on-the-internet," travel agents are still privy to consolidator fares and special deals that the general public cannot access. When booking your flight, have the agent go ahead and request your seat assignment along with your reservation. Ask to be located as close to the front of the plane as possible, so you can be one of the first off of the aircraft. Also, aim for the earliest flight possible to give you plenty of "buffer" in case of delays.

While I prefer small family-run motels and inns when I vacation just for fun, you can take a lot of the guesswork out of your next work trip by becoming familiar with and loyal to a chain of hotels that offer extra services for the business traveler. What are you always needing while on the road -- a copy machine? Fax? WiFi? Courier service? Then look for accommodations that provide these services directly at the hotel. Also keep an eye out for those free amenities that make mornings easier -- continental breakfasts, the coffee machine in your room (if you are a caffeine junkie like my husband), an iron in your closet, and a newspaper by your door. These small touches will save you a lot of time, help you feel more at home, and get you going quicker when the sun comes up.

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posted on: 11/23/2010 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Simplify Your Life

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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