I think this is my final travel post until I leave town for work again at the beginning of next week.
As you’ve seen in the past 4 posts, I was in Tennessee for 5 days. Kind of hard to prepare for 5 days of travel when you know you’ll be working and trying to have fun (I have family in Nashville and I had my wife with me for the first 48 hours so I knew this trip was business with some pleasure sprinkled in). Since I couldn’t get you all a souvenir, I came back with a few tips on how you can make the most of your business trips from this point on:
1 – Pack smart. Mrs. Daniels just got me a wonderful duffle for Christmas. I love it. Thing is, it’s a little too big to be a carry on but it’s still within that size range that you can get away with getting it to the gate and then “checking” it for free. So, within the bag, I was able to get 5 dress shirts in, 4 pair of slacks, a pair of shoes, some workout clothes, underwear, a pair of shoes, and a pair of sneakers. Then I flew in a peacoat, blazer, some jeans, and a pair of boots. Tossed my laptop in my “one small personal item,” a backpack, and kept it moving. Now, what I wish I had done is left room for conference materials. While packing, I didn’t even think about that and ended up having to check my new duffle on the way back. So that’s something to think about. If you know you’ll be bringing some stuff back with you, leave a bit of room.
2 – Build an itinerary. I’m the kind of person who loves trying food wherever I go. And I like checking out local music spots. Luckily, I didn’t have to do much work when I came to Tennessee because my dad’s siblings took care of all of that but, when in doubt, check out blogs. Google things like “Top lounges/clubs/eateries in insert city here.” You will find some great places to go and you’ll save yourself the indifference that comes with ignorance of what a town/city has to offer.
3 – Manage expectations. In an earlier post today, I discussed managing expectations and the same comes with travel as relates to business. I came to Tennessee with two of my coworkers and my wife. They understood that, during the first two days, my free time would be dedicated to Desirée since it was Valentine’s Day weekend. What they didn’t know is that, the last two evenings would be spent with my aunts, uncles, and cousins in the area. Now, I am the kind of person who, on a regular day, comes to work at 7:45, and leaves at 5 or 5:15. When I’m gone, I’m usually done unless I have something that I have to do. And I say that with no shame. I put in a quality 40 hours and know that I did my best. In addition, I have to take everyone in doses. I mean everyone. No one can spend 100% of their time with anyone else. And, after 10-12 hour days, I’m not one to want to spend additional time in a setting that will remind me of work. So, it is necessary that you let your coworkers know “Hey, after the conference, I’m going to head to the gym and call it a night.” There is nothing wrong with wanting time to yourself. It doesn’t mean you like them any less. It’s just life.
4 – Do your job. If you’re out of town to do a job, do it. You’re not there to be a tourist or visit relatives. Sure, that may be a perk of being in a given location but, during the hours you’re supposed to be working, do it. Desirée was in the hotel room for half of Valentine’s Day and she knew that, though she never comes second, we were there for a purpose and that purpose was not romance. So, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. But do it after you clock out for the day.
5 – Make connections. If you go out of town for a professional development opportunity, connect professionally. Networking isn’t just about getting a job. It is also about gaining information, sharing information, and working on improving your best practices. So find people who are on the same level as you and improving or people who are ahead of you and able to provide you with insight. Stay in touch with them, because you never know when their blueprint may help yours.
Those are just a few tips I have about professional travel. All of it comes from my personal experience this week, both from successes and areas that have room for improvement.
Make professional development a priority.