27 September 2023

Advice for the rookie business traveller

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Ashley Stahl* says business trips can be an exciting development in your career, giving you the chance to meet and network with new people — but there are pitfalls.

Picture this: You are new to a job, climbing the promotion ladder and doing great.

So great that your manager has asked you to travel for work on a business trip.

This is an exciting opportunity that provides exposure and responsibility, but also some things you might not have considered when you agreed to go.

What was once something only executives took part in is quickly becoming a norm among all employees, even fresh graduates.

In anticipation of your travel, here are three common pitfalls to look out for and ways to prevent them from happening to you.

Don’t let your sex drive ruin your career.

Getting out of the house and away may be exhilarating, but watch out because many people take things further than business during a business trip.

A recent study revealed that nearly one in five people have visited a strip club on a work trip, while 23 per cent admit to having witnessed a co-worker cheating on their significant other during work travel.

I don’t mean to be the fun police.

In fact, I encourage you to enjoy your opportunity to travel for work.

However, with co-workers and managers likely present, it would be wise to keep illicit activity at bay during work travel.

Don’t forget the first reason you are traveling — for your career.

To make sure you walk away from the trip feeling great, ditch the cocktails after happy hour and opt for soda water with lime.

Watch out for your health.

You have a routine in motion, eating healthy home-cooked meals and hitting the gym after work each night.

Now a week-long business trip arrives, and all that goes out the window.

This is not surprising.

When you travel, it can be stressful, healthy food and drinks are hard to find and your sleep schedule gets thrown off track.

Those who travel 21 or more nights per month are 92 per cent more likely to be obese than someone who travels one to six nights per month.

The more you travel for business the more likely you are to have health problems such as high blood pressure or bad cholesterol.

Combat this by doing some quick research up front.

Figure out if your organisation has policies around what hotels you can stay in while traveling.

Check out which options have gym access and good amenities.

If that isn’t an option, pack your shoes and a jump rope, and resistance bands, or do some bodyweight hotel-room friendly exercise.

Look up restaurants nearby that have healthy options and pack a few snacks that you can travel with for emergencies.

Travel packets of oatmeal for breakfast or some healthy snack bars can go a long way during travel.

Don’t let a business trip be the culprit to cultivating bad habits.

Keeping up with work becomes a struggle.

When you are traveling for work, one of the hardest tasks is keeping up with your workload back in the office.

Your normal day-to-day routine has vanished, replaced with long meetings, commuting and networking events that leave you exhausted at the close of the day.

With work time limited during travel, prioritise the tasks you need to complete to stay on track.

Write down the three main goals that need to be met during your time away from the office.

Before you leave, can you accomplish them? If not, consider going into the office early or working late one night to complete.

I know, that is not fun, but it will help you prepare for success on the road ahead and reduce overall stress.

This sets everyone, not just you, up for success during your time away.

Remain accountable and set deadlines for the tasks that need to be completed.

If you need help with this, set up a call with a trusted colleague in the office to help keep you on track at the close of the day or work week.

Take advantage of the commuting time.

Whether you are sitting at a terminal waiting to catch a flight or riding in a subway to get to your business meeting, use this time to prepare for or recap the work day.

Invest in some high-quality noise-cancelling headphones to help you focus while on the go.

Work travel is a great way to network, build relationships with clients or other co-workers and enjoy time away.

Prepare yourself for what is to come and you will be successful.

*Ashley Stahl is a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host and author. In a previous life she was award-winning counter-terrorism professional. She can be contacted at ashleystahl.com.

This article first appeared at Forbes.com.

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