I'm lucky enough to have a job that allows me to occasionally travel for work. As a matter of fact, I'm actually heading to LA this weekend for a business trip. You better believe that I'll be playing Miley Cyrus' Party in the USA and singing "hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and a cardigannn" as I walk off the plane!
Back in November I had to take my first solo business trip to Denver. I have flown to and from Germany by myself before, but I was meeting my family there, so it was a little bit different. I had never flown to a place and stayed overnight somewhere all by myself. Prior to my trip to Colorado I had only been to the Denver area once and it was when I was a kid.
Solo business travel can be weird, especially if you haven't traveled alone much like me. So, if you're a working millennial who may be going on a business trip by yourself in the future, I put together a first solo business trip survival guide below. These tips apply not only to business trips, but to any type of solo travel.
Print off copies of your itinerary
Sure, you can keep your flight and hotel information in emails, but I find that it's more helpful for me to print off my flight schedule, boarding pass, hotel check in information, etc. I like having paper copies available just in case! I'd hate to lose my phone or not be able to find an email when I need to know specific details about my travel plans.
Look up maps of the area and try to get the lay of the land
As I mentioned, I had only been to Denver once before and it was when I was little. Before I left for my business trip, I made sure to locate my hotel on the map and plot out directions to each place that I needed to go. Luckily, my colleague who was local to the Denver area was able to pick me up from my hotel and drive me to our meeting. She was kind enough to drive me back as well so I didn't have to worry about calling an Uber or a Lyft.
Have phone numbers of business colleagues saved in your phone
If you're going on a business trip, chances are that you're meeting someone at your final destination. I find that it's more comforting for me to have important phone numbers written down and saved in my phone prior to my trip. That way, I know that if I get lost on the way to or from my hotel, I can call someone for help. Or, if something happens to me, I'll be able to get in touch with someone in the same area as me to come help.
Take your ID and corporate credit card
You'll need your ID to fly, so you definitely don't want to leave that behind. Additionally, you'll need both your ID and your credit card to check in to your hotel. If you have a corporate credit card that you can charge your room to, take that with you and hand it to the front desk representative at the hotel you're staying at. It's always good to take a back up credit card and some cash with you as well just in case you run into any issues.
Sign up for your hotel's loyalty program before you check in
This isn't something that you absolutely HAVE to do, but it is a good idea to earn rewards through the hotel that you're staying at if you can. Assuming that you can expense your hotel stay for business travel, you can earn loyalty points essentially for free. The cool thing about hotel loyalty points is that you can redeem them on a number of things like free stays, airline tickets and more. Who doesn't like free stuff?
Have plenty of business cards handy
Whether you're heading to a conference or a meeting, you'll want to make sure that you have lots of business cards ready to hand out. You'll probably meet some new people during your travels, so handing them a business card is a great way to connect so they 1) remember your name 2) know what company you're from and 3) know how to contact you after you go your separate ways.
Represent your company well
Just because you're out of the office and away from your desk doesn't mean that you can go rogue and live it up. When you're traveling for business, you're still on company time and you should be a great representative of your company and your team. Carry yourself in a professional manner and be an A+ employee. You were given the opportunity to travel for business for a reason, so live up to the expectation set forth by your supervisor.
Accept that you'll have to eat a few meals alone
This is the not so glamours side of solo business travel. Before I went on my first solo business trip, I hated the idea of eating alone. I thought it would be super lonely and embarrassing. When I went to Denver, I had to grab dinner by myself. It was snowing like crazy out when I was on my business trip, so I decided to stay at my hotel and just eat in the restaurant there. Upon walking into the restaurant, I saw that it wasn't very busy and there were several other people dining alone. Seeing this made me instantly feel better. I knew that people wouldn't judge me or stare for being alone because they were all in the same boat.
Catch up on work or relax a little during down time
Many times when you're traveling for work, you're "always on." Don't feel bad about taking some breaks here and there to get some fresh air or retreat back to your hotel room. If you're attending something like a conference or a meeting and you have some free time, you can catch up on emails or network with others around you.
Whether you're comfortable traveling by yourself or you've never stepped foot inside an airport alone, I hope these tips help you feel more at ease about going on a solo business trip. The more business trips you go on, the more comfortable you'll be. The good thing is, most people in this world are genuinely nice and willing to help. If you get lost in the airport or if you encounter a problem, stop and ask someone for assistance.
Have you ever traveled alone for fun or for business? How do you ensure you're prepared for solo travel? Let me know by leaving a comment below!