Traveling for work is big business. Americans take more than 405 million business trips annually, and these trips are responsible for 16% of long-distance travel, according to the National Household Travel Survey by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Want to seriously master the art of traveling for business? We interviewed leaders in all types of businesses who travel frequently to get their best tips.
Use hotel keywords
“When selecting a hotel, I search reviews for ‘WiFi, noise, location and lobby’ – to ensure I have a place to work out of the room if needed,” says Britta Schell, founder of Britta Schell Consulting. “With all the information available to us, there’s really no need for surprises around these topics,” she says.
Set your hours to right time zone
When she’s in a different time zone from her clients, Schell sets her working hours with her clients’ needs in mind. She has an upcoming trip to Italy, where she’ll be working from 6 p.m. to midnight in Italy, or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. west coast. “Knowing this before I leave also helps me enjoy my time at the destination: booking reservations, tickets, ect.,” Schell says.
Use Google Cloud
Schell does all her work on Google Cloud products: docs, spreadsheets, email, etc. “It’s easy to make these available offline to work on the plane or if I don’t have WiFi,” she says.
Switch to T-Mobile Business accounts
“T-Mobile business accounts have free decent-to-great connections globally,” Schell says. “I’ve tested it everywhere from Hong Kong to Denmark, and mostly it’s been great.” If it’s not fast enough, she buys a local SIM.
Automate or pre-complete tasks before the trip
Social media posts, financial to-dos and anything else that can be done before the trip should be done, Schell says.
Pre-order your flight or train WiFi
This saves you money, as opposed to ordering it while you’re actually on the plane or train, says Emmi Buck, communications and marketing director, and consultant based in Idaho and in Washington. “Bundling Internet for the year or month saves you money as well,” she says.
Be prepared for a bad WiFi connection
This means either having documents you can work on while offline pre-downloaded from the cloud, or hard copies of materials for your job. “As a last resort, I like to have work or skill-related podcasts or books on tape saved to my phone to listen to,” Buck says.
Get a work-dedicated smartphone
And get very comfortable with editing documents on your phone. “For example, I’ve edited 30-page spreadsheets and meeting agenda documents on the fly in Mexico City 20 minutes before a monthly meeting, thanks to learning my way around Google Docs on my phone,” Buck says. “The whole team was able to access them via a quick link, and provide their edits in real-time from their various cities around the world.”
Bring a high-capacity power bank
Couple this with a pouch containing all the leads you could possibly need, says Ben Taylor, a London-based entrepreneur and founder of Homeworkingclub.com, an advice portal for aspiring freelancers. More and more devices are USB-C now, which makes this simpler, but typically you still need a few to cover your laptop, phone, and other devices, Taylor says. “The power bank allows you to charge things up anywhere, with no mains outlet required.”
Keep copies of documents
Store all important documents in the cloud, says Rishit Shah, Chief Editor for TallySchool based in India. Cloud storage offers security, and you can open your documents from anywhere on any device, Shah says.
Have a hotspot
Make sure your data plan on your phone enables you to create a mobile hotspot when you can’t rely on WiFi, says Miguel Suro, a Miami attorney and lifestyle writer at The Rich Miser.
Skip hotel room service
Usually, delivery apps like UberEats or DoorDash have better and less expensive options, Suro says.
Phil Strazzulla, the founder of Select Software, suggests pairing up with another remote worker via FocusMate, which pairs you with another remote worker for 50 minutes. “You’re on webcam, they know your to-do list, and there is an accountability factor that I find to be an amazing productivity boost,” Strazzulla says.