Your company is sending you to a conference in some sunny place. Lucky you! If this is your first business trip you may feel you’ve hit the jackpot with the all-expense paid trip – airfare, hotel, a per diem. But before you zip up your bag, be sure you’ve packed not only your sunscreen, but some common sense as well.
When you travel for business, keep in mind that you represent your company, whether you’re enjoying the almost free nuts on the plane or going out to dinner with colleagues. How you act and dress will reflect not only on your character but on your company as well. Here are some tips to keep you in your boss’s good graces when traveling on the company dime.
You may be tempted to wear your comfy sweats or yoga pants when flying but there are a few reasons why wearing business casual will serve you well. On the plane, your seatmate could be a potential client or someone who could be helpful to your career. When you’re dressed well you’ll make a better impression and you’ll feel more confident.
If your luggage is lost and you need to get to the conference or client meeting soon after landing, you’ll be much more comfortable if you’re dressed business ready rather than having to show up to your meeting wearing your Def Leppard t-shirt and ripped up jeans.
Be sure you have your itinerary with you, including phone numbers of the hotel you’re staying in, the limo or rental car company, your company host, etc. If you’re delayed, you can inform those who are counting on your arrival at a certain time. I encourage you to give your hosts your itinerary information as well—your flight information (airline, flight number and arrival time), your hotel and your cell phone number, so that they know when to expect you and where to find you.
Keep the drinks to a minimum
Indulge in no more than one alcoholic drink when flying. And when out with colleagues or clients, again, watch your consumption. Maintain your professional demeanor so that you don’t say or do something you’ll regret. Keep in mind this is a business trip and people are watching you.
The per diem (Latin for “per day”), is an allotted amount you’re allowed to spend on food each day. Before you go crazy ordering lobster and bottles of Dom Pérignon at dinner, find out if there is a specified amount per meal and if alcoholic beverages are included. Even if you have an unlimited sum to spend on food, don’t take that as an invitation to spend foolishly. When you hand in your receipts, your boss may not think highly of your extravagant spending, which could affect being selected for future trips or a promotion. Spend the company money as if it were your own money.
Maintain professional boundaries
It’s important to keep business travel at a professional level rather than seeing it as a time to let your hair down. Don’t share very personal information about yourself. Also avoid complaining or gossiping about your boss or coworkers with those you are traveling with even if it seems safe to do so.
Enjoy your trip, but remember who is paying the bill and act as if your boss is by your side the whole trip. Your career will benefit when you act like a professional throughout the trip.