Getting Through the Week: Traveling for Work
It’s pretty obvious to anyone with a brain and eyes that I’m going to be rich and famous one day. If I were a betting man, I’d say sooner rather than later but it’s kind of in God’s hands at this point. But I can say without a doubt that one day I will live a life of luxury and not have to cook myself pasta every single night to make it to the next paycheck. And that’s why I love business trips. You get to live like a baller and not worry about anything you spend. It’s a little taste of the future that I am confident will come for a man of my talent and character.
Business trips can be polarizing. Some people hate them because they fuck up your normal routine and take you out of the office, making it hard to get stuff done. Well that’s the exact reason I love them. My normal routine is pretty boring and I hate doing work so now I have the perfect excuse to avoid both. My first job out of college had the perfect business travel situation. We traveled about once a month, either to Chicago to see our ad agency, or to dope cities like LA, Austin, or Miami for shit like sales meetings, conferences, or consumer research. It was a joke. This giant corporation was paying for me, a 22 year old, to fly to a new city to go handle some bullshit that could probably be done over the phone. I don’t know why I left.
There’s a wide range of business travel across jobs in corporate America. If you’re in consulting (nerd), chances are you’ll be traveling to clients pretty much every week, usually in some random ass places like Jacksonville, Florida. Maybe you’re a salesperson and you drive around a territory, selling air conditioners to office buildings or something dumb like that. You’re going to be in the car all the time and spending a lot of nights at the Holiday Inn in Southeast Virginia. Honestly, both of those sound kind of shitty and I can see why you’d hate it. On the bright side, you get to stay in a hotel, which is fancy, and you can rack up points flying or make money on expensing gas.
On the other end of the spectrum is a job like the one I have now, where the only time you can expense anything is maybe a PATH ticket to Hoboken to visit our other office and sometimes lunch if you have people visiting. Fucking lame. Many people don’t know what they’re missing, but I am in pain every day. I have tasted the sweet nectar of ideal business travel. I guess it is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. But that doesn’t make the hurt go away.
Regardless of your current situation, here is how you can make the most of traveling for work.
Work Retire Dies’s Declassified Business Trip Survival Guide
1. Maximize Your Returns:
When it comes to work travel, you need to have some long-term vision. Since your company is paying for all of it AND taking up your precious time, you might as well milk it for all it’s worth and set yourself up for some success in your personal life.
- Set Up Your Points Programs
- Airline and hotel points honestly make no sense. I’m not sure how these companies stay in business. The amount of hotel rooms, first class flights and random dinners you can get for free using your points is just stupid. I made a giant mistake by not setting up my loyalty programs my first year out of college and lost out on probably a million dollars. Don’t be like me.
- Pro-Tip: Check out The Points Guy. No lie, this dude is a goddam wizard at points. He’ll have you flying to Paris first class and staying in a 5 star hotel basically for free.
- Loop in Personal Travel
- Whenever possible, try to schedule your trip for Thursday/Friday so you can set up a free weekend trip to visit your friends or have a quick vacation. Most companies will let you adjust your flight dates, as long as the price is the same as if you flew back home immediately. This is a great opportunity to visit someone who lives across the country or see a cool city without paying a cent for flights. Use your brain jackass.
- Expense Like a Mothafucka’
- Corporate Cards: If you have a corporate card, congrats on being a king. Go ahead and treat yourself. Get a nice-ass steak dinner and a bottle of wine. Pick up some delicious snacks at the airport (but no more than $25!) Maybe even get a little wild and do your dry-cleaning at the hotel. No one’s stopping you. Worst case scenario, your finance department is all like “oh you can’t expense that” and you say “my bad” and then forget to send the check to US Bank for 3 months and then quit.
- However, I will warn you to not be an idiot. It’s kind of a bad look if you expense too much shit, especially when you start off. Watch your boss closely and follow whatever they do. They’ll be approving your expenses anyways.
- Pro-Tip: Do NOT keep your corporate card in your wallet when you go out on a normal weekend. My first year working, I was at a strip club with my buddies at a well-known local establishment. It was my turn to get the round, but I had to piss, so I gave my friend my wallet and told him to buy some beers. I come back to find out he charged $46 in Bud Lights on my goddam US Bank corporate card. Was real embarrassed when that popped up on Concur.
- If you have to use your personal credit card, it’s not the end of the world, especially if you have like Chase Sapphire and get good points. Only problem is that you’ll have tons of charge on your card and sometimes they don’t get processed for like 2 fucking months. Butttt when that expense check comes through, you feel like the richest kid in the world.
2. Travel Smarter Not Harder:
- Packing for work is an art form. You don’t want to forget anything but you also don’t want to lug around some heavy ass shit. And please, do not even THINK about checking a bag. It’s either going to get lost or your co-workers will have to wait 20 minutes for you to grab it and hate you. Everyone should be bringing 2 carry-ons.
- Backpack: For technology
- This is where you put all your work shit (laptop, charger, notebook) as well as any personal entertainment technology for the flight (iPad, headphones, book, etc.) Also, PLEASE don’t forget a phone charger or I will have to smack the life out of you.
- Duffel: For stuff that goes on your body
- This should be one of those bags that you can carry like a gym bag or pull out a handle and roll on wheels. Versatile as fuck.
- For a standard work trip (2 business days and 1 night out), you should be packing the following:
- Clothing: 2 pairs of pants that you can wear out or to meetings
- 4 dress shirts (2 for each day of work, 1 for going out, 1 extra in case something happens)
- Underwear + Socks (duh)
- Pair of gym shorts + a t-shirt (for lounging around the hotel.)
- Pro-Tip: Don’t pack sneakers. Unless you are a fitness freak, you’re probably not going to work out and they’ll take up too much space in your bag. If you really want to work out, just do some sit-ups or push-ups in your room.
- Toiletries (Don’t forget that this has to be travel sized or you’ll get stopped in security)
- Hotels never have toothpaste in the rooms, yet have 4 types of lotions. I’d rather clean my teeth than exfoliate my skin, fucking Hilton Doubletree.
- Contacts and Glasses
- Razor- this applies to ladies too 😉
- Over the Counter Drugs (just in case)
- Claritin- for the sniffles
- Nyquil- for the insomnia
- Advil- for the hangovers
- If you’re traveling with co-workers, you’re going to be spending lots of down time with them waiting around for transportation. You guys probably aren’t friends so you’ll need to master your small-talk game. Key is to start off generic (weather, how this city compares to your city, work, etc.) and then slowly dip your toe into personal conversation. You should learn more about them then they do about you. Manipulation 101. But also know when to shut up so you can both put your headphones in.
- If you’re traveling alone and have a layover, time to hit up the airport bar. This is one of the few times it’s acceptable to eat dinner or drink alone. Just be careful when sitting at the bar. You may find yourself staring at your reflection in the mirror behind the bar while you sip a Jameson on the rocks at 11:15 am in Minneapolis and wonder how life brought you here.
- Make sure you got all that good content downloaded to your phone or iPad before you start the flight (podcasts, Spotify albums, Netflix). Everyone knows that if you turn on cellular service during a flight, the plane will crash.
- If it’s a long flight, check out some of the movies they got on the back of the seat. Flight movies are a special breed of movies. You probably never would’ve see them in any other situation, but since you’re on a long flight, you might as well.
- Bring a book and grow your mind you fucking jerk-off.
- Sleeping on an airplane is my best talent. Plane takes off and I conk the fuck out. Catching a quick hour or so of sleep, especially when you have an early morning flight, is huge. But if you’re near your boss or clients, be careful to not let them catch you snoozing. Bad look.
3. You Are Here to Get Drunk in a New City:
Your boss may pretend differently, but this is a great chance for you to travel to a new city for free and get a little party on. I don’t care if you’re going with your entire team, 1 or 2 people from work, or by yourself. You’re in a different town and it’s time to let your hair down. Here’s how you do it.
- Manage Your Energy
- Business trips can be exhausting. First, you have to get up early to catch a flight. Then, once you land you have to get to the actual meeting and once you’re there, you have to be completely locked in the entire time, By the end of it all, it’s easy to say you’re too tired to go out, which would of course be a colossal mistake
- The secret is to take that 1-2 hour nap between the meetings and dinner. You don’t even have to sleep. Just crawl into bed, take your pants off, and watch Sportscenter. You’ll feel refreshed and ready for the night ahead of you.
- If you’re traveling with a few people, chances are you’re going to go out to dinner with them, as well as whoever you’re visiting. The company is paying for it so why not. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Your seat at dinner is of upmost importance. You’ve either got 2 hours of awkward small talk ahead of you or a fun-filled night of boozing, stories, salacious gossip, and potential networking. Careers are made and lost at the dinner table. We all know that.
- Order the 3rd or 4th most expensive thing on the menu. Don’t be dick but don’t be a Puritan either.
- Get coffee after dinner. You’ll need it to rally for the night ahead.
- Going Out with Co-workers
- Lots of times, the older people will surprise you on work trips. This is their one night away from their spouses and kids and they want to cut loose. If they’re going out, don’t be the pussy that calls it a night and stays in.
- Follow your boss’s lead here. You should never go home before they do. This is valuable bonding time. But remember. 2-3 drinks behind them. And once the older crew calls it a night, it’s time for the younger crew to turn up.
- When the real party happens, it’s important to remember that what happens on a business trip stays on a business trip, but usually not. Away from the shackles of the office, people start to show their true colors. Yes, you can get away with some more shit when you’re traveling. And as a no snitches blog, you should never run your mouth about something a co-worker did while you were all fucked up in Chicago. But not everyone’s the same and shit can follow you.
4. Don’t Forget You Have Actual Work:
This is the lamest section to write so it’s going to be short. But, it’s important to remember that when you’re on a business trip, you gotta make sure you take care of actual business.
- On The Trip
- Like most of life, half the battle with business trips is just showing up. Don’t miss any meetings, flights, dinners. That’d be catastrophic.
- Assuming you didn’t miss anything, make sure you bring the heat when you’re there. You’re meeting most of these people for the first time and you want to make a good impression. Even if theres a big meeting with lots of people, grow some balls and speak up. That’ll be some impressive ass shit my dude.
- Back at Home
- There’s no better feeling than setting up that out of office. Starting to get a little excited just thinking about it. You have the perfect excuse to not do anything for a few days and dump all the work you left at the office on a junior colleague who stayed behind. It’s called the corporate food chain mothafuckaaaa.
- One way to look like an especially #drivenemployee is to respond to emails when your automatic reply is up. People will be like holy shit he’s traveling for work AND responding to emails? Can we make this kid CEO already!!!!