In today’s day and age, conference travel for any business is almost inevitable. Whether you are attending conferences every month or just one or two a year, using these tips to simplify your travel planning can take the stress out of preparing for your next conference trip.
Travel for conferences costs significant time and money, and while the right conference can give great results for your business, if you’re going to get the most out of any conference you attend you have to commit to go all in. If you expend all of your energy on the act of just getting to the conference, you will have no juice left by the time you actually arrive, in which case the trip might not be worth the hassle in the first place.
As someone who travels extensively for conferences myself, I have learned that following these steps makes the conference travel process simpler; and simplifying your conference travel helps you put your focus on the business at hand so you can really get the most out of the conference you are attending.
#1 Preparation is Key – Prepare for Travel AND for Your Time Away!
All too often in the past when preparing for business travel, I spent so much of my time focused on the trip that I forgot to ask my neighbor to look in on my place while I was away until the very last minute! When planning for conference travel, it’s easy to forget that life at home continues in your absence. Keep a list of instructions for the care of your home in your absence: that includes pet-care, watering plants, and leaving contact information in case of any emergencies, and displaying this list somewhere easily accessible to whomever will be responsible for these things. Even if you have a partner or roommate who will be keeping up with everything in your absence, having this list on hand removes any unnecessary worry about the care of your home while you’re away.
If you travel frequently, you certainly have a travel bag pre-packed already. Even if you only travel a few times a year, it’s worth setting up your travel bag now. A good travel bag stays packed with all the essentials (from grooming items to spare laptop batteries and phone chargers) and should always be replenished soon after your return home, so that you can rest assured it is ready to go for your next trip.
#2 Travel Documentation: Save It, Print It, Share It.
When traveling for business, there are a number of apps that can be tremendously helpful for storing, managing and accessing important itinerary information you may need during your business travels. GateGuru, for example, is helpful for checking travel stats like flight statuses and airport amenities. Also, city guide apps like Tripomatic or Trip Advisor help you discover things to do or places to eat while in an unfamiliar city.
While mobile apps undoubtedly simplify the travel process, all important travel documents, such as airline confirmation numbers and flight itinerary, hotel and meeting locations, contacts, and address(es), etc. should not only be saved on your mobile device, but printed and stored in your carry on and shared with coworkers or bosses, in case of an emergency.
No one ever plans to drop their mobile in the sink or down a flight of stairs, or to lose charge while traveling, but these things do happen. Don’t risk losing your only lifeline. Having a physical copy of your necessary documentation will help keep you at ease during conference travel.
#3 Prioritize, Schedule, and Make Use of Your Time
This is the most important recommendation I have for simplifying conference travel:
Make the most of all of your time!
This means your “down time” on the plane, having lunch during your layover, or riding in the car between locations should be used to plan out how you intend to achieve your actionable objectives while at the conference.
Before your trip, make a list of who you would like to speak with at the conference, what you would like to accomplish while there, and come prepared with in-person and online content, up-to-date business cards, and a clear message to share. If you hire ground transportation instead of renting a vehicle yourself, you can spend your travel time from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the conference fine-tuning how you will prioritize and achieve these goals, not driving!
#4 Stick with What You Know
If you always stay at a certain hotel chain, fly on the same airline, and utilize the same ground transportation service for your business travels regardless of the city you are in, you will be familiar with the process and know what to expect.
This can be a bit of a tough one, however, because while knowing what to expect when traveling for a conference will make it easier for you to focus on your objectives for the conference instead of the traveling itself, sticking with the familiar is certainly not a reason to stay with a company who hasn’t proven themselves to provide reliable and flexible service.
#5 Don’t Waste Time Where You Can Delegate!
This is a good rule of thumb for conference travel and business in general; don’t waste your time and focus on something that can be delegated. For conference travel, this may mean paying the hotel to have your conference clothes dry-cleaned instead of packing your travel steamer, or hiring a driver instead of attempting to navigate an unfamiliar city on your own.
To make the most of your time at a conference, you should not also be trying to handle work tasks back at the office, within reason. Make sure that someone is available to handle the day-to-day work and manage business in your absence, so you are able to focus your energy on the conference.
Go All In At Your Conference: Plan, Prepare, Delegate, and Simplify Conference Travel
Planning is everything. Get as much of your work done ahead of time before leaving for conference travel so you don’t start off behind, build in time while there to check in at work, and try to plan a lighter schedule for the week following in order to accommodate any extra work that will build up in your absence. Make sure to delegate any tasks you can so that you can truly go all in and get the most from the time, money, and effort spent traveling for conferences.