Any form of travel – be it for business or pleasure – relies on remembering a few essential items: tickets, hotel details, foreign currency and, of course, passports. But for the modern business traveler, there’s more. To make sure that work trips are successful, a business travel checklist is a great way to guarantee that both the travel and the business go smoothly.

From flexibility to freedom, here’s a checklist of key principles to follow from the perspective of both a business traveler and of a business travel manager.

What to consider before creating a business travel checklist

1. Freedom to choose

Booking business travel these days is often done by reaching for a smartphone to find a homely hotel that’ll provide easy access to important venues and attractions. Being constrained by the rules and regulations of traditional travel policies frustrates the modern business traveler. And this is for a very good reason – they often know of a far more cost-effective route. An employee having the freedom to choose the best place to stay is a fundamental building block of a successful business travel policy.

2. Opt for an open booking policy

Business travelers are often already familiar with their travel needs and preferences. Thus they may well know the best hotels and the most reasonably priced restaurants in the area. If they’re forced to abide by rules that dictate specific locations and hotel chains, then the optimal trip is unlikely to be booked.

There are a number of reasons business travelers want to book outside of a fixed work travel booking policy, usually simply to ensure convenience and the opportunity to travel efficiently.

3. Ensure access to fast internet connection

In an age where the internet feels ever-present – whether you’re at home, at work or walking the dog – fast connectivity is a commodity, particularly for business travelers. Being hampered by poor Wi-Fi is akin to the hotel shower running out of hot water.

Thankfully, speedy internet connections are now available at practically every stage of the travel experience (even if you’re forty thousand feet above the ground), but any that demand pricey hourly connection fees are to be avoided.

Consider these additional connectivity tips:

  • If connectivity and roaming are expensive while travelling for business, opt for purchasing a local SIM card instead
  • Download your documents and enable offline access so you can work without Wi-Fi
  • Consider travelling in first class, which usually has Wi-Fi included

4. Make your business travel policy accessible

Business travel shouldn’t be hampered by policy and process because navigating endless red tape isn’t enjoyable for anyone. If travel policies can be looked at from a different angle or regarded more as guidelines than hard-and-fast rules, the modern traveler can continue unabated with a better, faster way of booking. Try to remove red tape, or at least keep it to a minimum when making your travel policy feasible and accessible.

5. Embrace the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture

The BYOD culture has given many an IT manager multiple headaches, but employees’ desire to bring their own smartphones, tablets and laptops into the workplace is just as prevalent in business travel.

Those heading to foreign shores to meet customers and attend conferences need to be empowered to use their own devices to book travel arrangements.

With technology moving so fast, few travel policies can keep up. If there’s a better way to book a business trip, the likelihood is the traveler has the enabling device to hand.

Once you’ve established the key principles to adhere to for a  business travel checklist, here are a few aspects to consider.

Apps, electronics and devices checklist

Whether you’re bringing your own device or a laptop supplied by your employer, it’s all too easy to forget to pack an important accessory, particularly when packing in a hurry. To avoid that stressful dash to buy a charger or adapter upon arrival, we’ve laid out a checklist of essential electronic items for a seamless business travel experience:

  1. Visit your IT department to make sure all your devices are good to go.
  2. Pack a power bank.
  3. Pack an adapter.
  4. Pack your charger.
  5. Pack an extension cord.
  6. Pack noise-cancelling headphones if necessary.
  7. Pack all laptop accessories such as a mouse, keyboard, USB hub and USB adaptor.
  8. Pack an eBook reader to fill idle moments.
  9. Make sure any imminent tech updates are completed beforehand.
  10. Check out the roaming rules for your phone and WIFI network (getting your hands on a portable WiFi hotspot pre-trip is a clever way to make sure you can always find a decent internet connection).
  11. Make sure all the necessary apps are downloaded and ready to go. For information on the most up-to-date apps and information when it comes to business travel, check out our article on the top apps for business travelers.

Business travel arrangements checklist

In terms of planning your trip, there are a few elements to consider before you go:

  • Itinerary planning: Even if it’s not laid out in detail, try to plan at least part of your daily itinerary to give you peace of mind that you’ll be able to fit all of the necessary appointments and tasks into your timetable.
  • Travel insurance: Insurance is one of the easiest things to forget but equally, one of the most important in order to protect yourself in the case of an emergency (an annual policy that auto-renews is a great way to ensure that you’re always protected).
  • Bookings: Ensure that all hotels, flights and other transportation arrangements are confirmed and that you have tickets ready to go either printed out or on a fully charged phone.
  • Notify colleagues and clients: Set an out of office on your email if necessary and make sure that anyone important will know that you may or may not be reachable.

Documents checklist (if applicable/needed)

Before you even start compiling all the documents you’ll need, find yourself a handy travel holder to keep everything in one place.

  • Travel tickets and important booking information

  • Business travel itinerary

  • Frequent flyer card

  • Passport and visa

  • Driving license

  • Proof/confirmation of your (business) travel insurance policy

  • Business cards

  • Work documents

  • Foreign currency and debit/credit cards

Prepare for leaving (work arrangements)

  • Make sure you have all the presentations and other work documents you might need easily accessible on your devices.
  • Check your colleagues are aware of your whereabouts and your OoO email settings are switched on if needed.

Entertainment on road checklist

  • Download a few TV episodes, films or music to listen to while travelling
  • Pre-load your e-reader with ample reading material or take a book or two

A business travel health checklist

When travelling abroad for business, here are a few things to consider packing (if needed) or preparing to make sure the trip goes well:

  • Travel vaccinations (check if these are necessary for your chosen destination well in advance of your travel)
  • Any prescription medications you regularly require (with prescriptions in case you’re required to show them to security officials when travelling)
  • Allergy medication
  • Over-the-counter pain relief
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A small first aid kit (including plasters, antiseptic cream, etc.)
  • Personal hygiene items (a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap)
  • Sun cream
  • Travel-size shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and any other cosmetic products (if hotel products won’t hit the spot)
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Feminine hygiene products

For additional packing list tips, check out our article of tips for packing for business trips.

Post-business travel trip essentials

Even once you’ve returned from a business travel trip, there are still certain things to consider to make sure you wrap up all the business neatly. Use this checklist to ensure you’ve thought of everything:

  1. Run a post-trip, cybersecurity checkup on all your devices: once your trip is over, don’t hesitate to visit your IT department and ask them to check if all your devices are healthy and haven’t been infected with malware. If that’s been the case, they’ll know what to do to mitigate the impact of the cyberattack on the company and its clients.
  2. Review your bank statements to check for any unusual activity before, during or after your trip.
  3. Exchange any foreign currency unless you’ll be returning to your work destination very soon.
  4. Submit any travel expenses you might have.

How to create a business travel itinerary

Business travel can make for some of the most hectic trips, with itineraries a key aspect in keeping a productive and successful schedule. Fundamental things to include are flight dates and times, hotel check-in dates and times, transportation arrangements, business meetings, conferences and other work-related appointments.

More seasoned business travelers will also know to include time for themselves. Try to incorporate a window for wellness into your schedule, whether that’s an opportunity to exercise, relax with a spot of sightseeing and shopping, or simply take a power nap.

An effective checklist for business travel is a great way to ensure that all goes to plan, guaranteeing a cost-effective trip and satisfaction for both employee and employer. So with these key principles for creating the ultimate business travel checklist by your side, you’ll be ready to go.

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