Sharing my experiences and tips for travelling abroad for work!
Travelling abroad always sounds like a super exciting concept and generally it is, but often when it’s travelling abroad with work for conferences and workshops, the process if not managed with perfection can be a whirlwind and sometimes a little stressful and manic. Feeling and being prepared and organised is essential, even if it starts with something as simple as getting yourself a smart travel wallet to put all of your important travel documents in. Knowing how to maximise your trip and time in the city is key to making the most of your travels.
I’m fortunate enough to travel quite frequently with my work, usually in Northern and Southern Europe but occasionally further affield, over the last 5 years i’ve really mastered my work travel routine, i’ve learnt a few tips and tricks to make the process smooth and stress free, and i’ve managed to find ways to mix work with a little pleasure too, exploring the cities i’m in when a free moment arises. Because unless you truly manage the trip well, all you really get to experience is a meeting room or office space. One thing you should never forget is to have your vaccinations when advised to. Somewhere like PharmaVaccs would be able to help in this department.
Today I wanted to share a few of my top tips for acing a work trip abroad, and I really hope you find them helpful for any up and coming work trips you might be taking.
6 TIPS TO HELP YOU ACE TRAVELLING WITH WORK
Create an essentials travel kit
Firstly, the main thing i’ve learnt from my travels abroad is that unless you have a dedicated travel essentials kit, you are absolutely guaranteed to forget something. So to avoid the last minute boots trip at the airport or worse the hunt for a chemist in your destination, I reco mend buying a transparent travel bag which you pre packed and have ready to go with your essential travel toiletries, not only does it mean you don’t have to think mic or organise much before you go, it also means you are already prepared to go through security (a clear toiletries bag and 50ml toil errors). There’s nothing worse than having to unpack your suitcase in front of colleagues on a business trip, so be organised before hand and have a ready to go travel kit.
Invest in travel luggage
Spending £300 / £400 on a suitcase may feel ridiculous, but a couple of years ago as my work travel really started to pick up I decided to invest in a professional and high quality cabin case (I use a Samsonsite case) because I needed something reliable, sturdy and something that was easily transportable. It was a big investment but one I don’t regret at all. Having quality travel luggage really does help the process … from light weight materials to ensure you’re not lugging around carry cases, to the perfect cabin case size to avoid any airport disasters and generally just a wheel functionality that means you barely have to think about all the luggage you’re carrying. Beyond a cabin case, I also really recommend investing in a quality and professional laptop or brief case. I personally have this Kate Spade laptop bag which is the perfect size for my macbook & all my wires and adapters etc.
Seek boutique hotels & restaurant recommendations
When you’re travelling abroad for work it’s easy to end up staying in a huge corporate global hotel full of business people, where you generally get no real feel for the city you are in. Whilst I know sometimes companies dictate where you stay, my biggest tip is to try and find your own smaller boutique accommodation, whether thats a local boutique hotel or a chic air BNB apartment. In reality the costs are the same, but the experience, location and quality you get will be far better, and not to mention you get to experience a little more authenticity for the city you are.
And more than that, force yourself to eat outside of the hotel you are staying in. It’s so easy just to pop downstairs for dinner in the hotel when you are working abroad, but you miss out on so much by doing this. Seek local recommendations for nearby cafes and restaurants and ensure you book tables in the evenings to really make the most of your stay. Ask colleagues in the market you are visiting to provide recommendations, skip the hotel breakfast and find your own little local coffee shop & generally try the places the locals go, you’ll get far more out of your stay this way (and get to experience the city you’re working in).
Maximise your mornings
I’ve travelled abroad many a time for work and ended up spending the entire duration of my trip in an office or in my hotel asleep, it always feels like such a shame to travel and not get the opportunity to explore your surroundings. But even if you’re running on an incredibly busy schedule with minimal free time to yourself, the mornings are always an opportunity to get a little alone time and to get out and explore. So if you’re meetings start at 8am or 9am why not leave an hour earlier and take a walk to the office, explore the city a little and take breakfast on the go. It’s a simple trick to give yourself even just an hour to see the city a little – as is walking everywhere, skip cabs and just get walking!
Extend your stay
I often find work trips abroad are a rather crazy 48 hour affair leaving not that much time to get to explore the city your visiting so when my diary permits, I always try and extend my stay to have an extra night or weekend to just relax and make a real trip out of it. Most the time your return travel is already covered so it’s simply a case of funding an extra night or two in a hotel, so I like to think of it as a free mini break.
Over think your outfits
My final tip is a sartorial one. When you’re travelling for a short work trip, taking a cabin case and only really needing a day or two with of clothes it’s really easy to over simplify what you pack. Contrary to popular advice, I recommend actually over thinking your outfit choices and the clothes you lack for a couple of reasons; firstly different cultures have different business dressing etiquette and so having a few options always helps (I hate being left with no choice or feeling unsuitably dressed), secondly weather can always be a little unpredictable so having a few options is advisable, and finally the reality of travel is that you’ll end up wanting to freshen your look after travelling, after a day in the office ahead of dinner and generally this means packing more outfit options than you might think you need. For me, I always pack a mixture of smart work clothes, with a mixture of my favourite and most comfortable business casual pieces, and three types of shoes (loafers, trainers, heels). Having choice allows you to adapt your style based on the market, the weather and the business tone!
SHOP MY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
SHOP MY LOOK
. ZARA CULOTTES . ZARA BLACK TEE . JIGSAW COAT . RAYBAN . PHILLIP LIM PASHLI MINI .
My final tip, especially if you’re a blogger or have a hobby as well as a full time career and job is to maximise the opportunity for your blog / hobby while you’re away. Travelling with work doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your blog or hobby (I actually shared my tips for blogging whilst travelling here if you’re interested), in fact it can provide an opportunity for new content and inspiration (especially for your social content strategy). This is where a portable camera and lightweight laptop or tablet comes in really handy, I personally use my Olympus pen and 45mm lens while I’m travelling as it fits in my bag and means I can capture quality photos whilst I’m away, and I always take my MacBook Pro away with me to work on my blog as and when I get some free time.
Do you have to travel with work as part of your job? Did you find these tips helpful, I’d love to hear your tips and advice too?