Travelling with a new colleague (or one you don’t know well) is a great chance to get to know them better. But it can also be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re not a natural people person. What if conversation dries up? What if you don’t have much in common? This blog post is your survival guide for travelling with unknown colleagues. It can be a great experience – and we’ll show how.

Make decisions together (and learn to compromise)

Travelling requires lots of little decision making, such as:

  • Where to eat?
  • How should we get from point A to point B?
  • We’ve got three hours to kill – what shall we do?

When travelling for work with someone you don’t know, involve them by asking their opinion about what to do. Sure, it might mean you end up eating Italian rather than Chinese. But these compromises can help make your trip together go much smoother.

Maintain personal boundaries – especially if you’re sharing a room

Even when travelling with colleagues, we all need some personal space on work trips. If you go out for dinner, don’t automatically assume they’ll want to spend the rest of the evening in the hotel bar. They may have other plans, like catching up on email, phoning home or just having a bit of downtime.

Avoid doing or saying anything that would be inappropriate or out of context in your office. As much as this trip will serve as a bonding process, it’s important to stay professional.

If you have to share a room with a colleague, be respectful of their space. Keep your stuff to one side of the room and agree beforehand things like alarm times in the morning and who is using the bathroom first.

Avoid the temptation of “just one more” drink

There’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two with your colleague at the end of a long day. But stop before you have too much. It’s not fair on your colleague if you’re worse for wear because of too much alcohol – just like you wouldn’t want to have to look after them if they get drunk.

Make an effort to get to know your colleague

You’ll be spending a fair bit of time with your colleague during the trip. Therefore it’s sensible (and fair) to make an effort to find out a little more about them. You might find that you have a lot in common, which will make the trip pass by swiftly and comfortably. And, even if you don’t, it’s exciting spending time learning about other people

Avoid being antisocial. You’ll obviously need to keep on top of work email and take some time out for yourself (see next tip), but if you vanish as soon as the business is done only to be seen again briefly at the airport, you won’t make the best impression or build a stronger working relationship.

And lastly: make time for yourself

Long days full of meetings and the constant need to be professional can take its toll when travelling for work.

If you feel like you could do with an hour or so on your own, don’t feel sorry for suggesting it. In fact, your colleague will probably be thinking the same thing, and they’ll be grateful for your suggested ‘me’ time break.

Combine our tips above, and you’ll find that future business trips with unknown colleagues become far more enjoyable. Just remember the takeaways:

  • don’t overstep personal boundaries – keep it professional but relaxed;
  • make every decision a joint one;
  • don’t get drunk – ever; and
  • make time for yourself, but don’t be antisocial.

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