For 6.5 years, I used to work in a position where I had to frequently travel for work. Looking back, it was a traveler’s dream come true constantly being on the move. However, after constant traveling abroad, and long periods away from home, the thrill eventually wears off.
Ask any frequent business traveler about traveling for work, and chances are you won’t be envious of their schedule. A typical work trip usually consists of the following: Plane, hotel, office, and then back to the hotel. If you’re lucky, you may have dinner with clients in a restaurant outside your accommodation!
You can easily spot business travelers in the airport. They’re usually well dressed, and tend to arrive 50 minutes before the flight as they have fast track privileges. They’ll then whizz straight past the civilian lines clutching their one expensive label hand luggage. Once onboard, it’s a race to get the laptops up before the air hostess has even served the first glass of champagne.
The essential guide on how to enjoy a work trip abroad
As someone with a natural likening for travel, I felt I hit the jackpot when I got my position. Over the years, I traveled to faraway places like South Africa, Tanzania, and Antigua and Barbuda. Though visiting on business, I was always excited to see another new country on the map.
Traveling for work can be a soulless and sometimes lonely experience, but it needn’t be. With more than enough experience, I’ve a few tips to ensure you get the most out of your business travel.
Enjoy the business lounge
I love, and miss, visiting the business lounge. Depending on the airline, and destination, business lounges offer a slice of calm — and opulence — in a busy airport. There are plenty of complimentary refreshments on offer, and usually offer hot and cold dishes. What’s more, the lounge is ideal if you really want to get some work done. The WiFi works perfectly, and of course, the space is usually quiet.
If in between connecting flights, some lounges offer the use of other facilities like showers and beds. For those of you who are really lucky, your lounge may even offer spa services, like luxury facials or massages.
Really enjoy the flight!
Despite my love for travel, and that I’m used to traveling frequently, I’m not actually keen on the flying part. I’m the classic nervous flyer — that passenger who tenses up at the first bit of turbulence.
That said, there’s something about flying in Business Class that puts me at great ease. It may be the fact they offer you a glass of champagne before you’ve even taken your seat. Or it could have something to do with the more spacious reclining seats that turn into beds in the cabin. Whatever the reasons, flying in Business Class is enjoyable and a lot of fun too.
The food choices, and quality, is 10 times better than economy class, not to mention the constant service. In Business Class, the stewards usually leave a range of snacks at the bar in case you’re still hungry. And you get a grooming kit with luxury branded goodies inside to help you sleep easier. It’s truly an awesome experience, and one that probably won’t happen regularly.
Get to know the local area
When I was working in Arusha, Tanzania, there wasn’t that much to see within walking distance of our hotel. Many people fly to Arusha to set up base before attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
Regardless of the lack of places outside my front door, I took every opportunity to accompany local staff to meetings. This gave me the chance to see more of the surroundings, plus get local first-hand knowledge of the area. Doing this also gives you the feeling that you’re actually in another country, and not just in another hotel room.
Familiarize yourself with the hotel staff
I always make a point to befriend one or more members of the hotel staff. Depending on the length of your stay, they can help with local information, while also providing a friendly face away from the work environment.
During one trip to San Francisco, I made friends with several of the hotel’s reception team. In fact, we became so friendly, that I ended up having a few beers with them — after work of course!
Ultimately, befriending hotel staff can help break the lonely spell of business travel trips. A business traveler friend of mine once told me that, no matter how beautiful the interior, hotel rooms are lonely places.
See the local sights
Again, depending on the destination of your trip, try to make time to explore the place! If visiting a city like London or New York, you’ll be inundated with (too many) options. Check the local events guide to see what’s on, or read up on the must-eat place in town. You probably won’t have time to take in a show or visit a museum, but you may come across a few local hangouts.
Even if it’s just the coffee shop down the road, a change of scenery is always good. Also, you might even stumble upon an hidden gem you can tell others about on your return.
Connect with home, and the locals too
With WiFi pretty much available everywhere, there’s no reason you can’t connect with people at home. Speaking with friends and loved ones can actually help you feel better on a business trip.
They remind you of your life away from work, and can also give any reassurance you may need. Of course, there’s also the chance it’ll make you more homesick. However, you should take comfort in knowing there will be someone waiting for your return.
In the instance you do want to reach out to people when abroad, there are several sites you can try. When I was in Greece, I reached out to the Couchsurfing community. I not only met some great people, but also saw Athens from a local perspective. Another great place is the Girls Love Travel Facebook group. Everyone is so supportive, and incredibly friendly too.
Just one word of warning when using the free WiFi when abroad. Do remember to take caution when linking to insecure networks. If you really don’t need to connect, you can probably wait till you get home to share that 100th selfie!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.
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