Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, a lot of the heavy lifting is done far from home. You may not be limited to what you can do in your own town, and may have a business that straddles many locations.
Maybe you’re expanding. Whatever the case, if you’re spending a lot of time away from home, whether it be all at once or in segments, you should have a strategy for extended business travel. Don’t just let it happen: that will cost you too much money and make you feel out of sorts. Here are five big tips to help.
1. Do some cooking
Now, this might sound like the strangest advice you could ever get for travel. And that might be why it’s so important. If you had to take one guess as to why cooking on your own is important, you might guess it’s the money it saves. And you’d be right.
Restaurant dining is a low-efficiency way of using money—tipping, buying a drink with dinner, paying for a cab to get there—all of these things add to the cost of the (overpriced) entrée itself and exhaust your travel budget.
Therefore, choosing a hotel with a kitchenette is a better idea. Even better than that might be a time-share, executive suites or apartments designed for the business traveler or people in similar situations, which we’ll mention below.
Not surprisingly, a Johns Hopkins University study shows that people who cook more have healthier lifestyles overall and consume less calories. So, test the local restaurants, dine out some, but program quite a bit of home cooking into your extended travel.
2. Rent an apartment
Part of your repertoire—as a small-business owner or as an executive who travels frequently–should be renting an apartment. It sounds extravagant until you think about it for a brief time, comparing the price to frequent hotel stays.
An apartment is advantageous for a number of reasons. One of these is as a way of cutting down on the stir-craziness that can afflict people from being cooped in a hotel room for too long.
Similarly, an apartment is your home away from home. The psychological benefits of that can’t be overstated. Particularly if you’re coming back every three months or so, having a place where you’ve kept some belongings and that won’t be whipped back into factory-fresh state by housekeeping every morning can take some of the bewilderment out of travel.
One thing that helps when looking for apartments for business is that there are companies, like Homesuite, that specialize in this very thing. It’s best to rent through companies that understand your particular needs.
3. Use public transportation
One of the biggest problems with travel is the expense. Rental cars and cabs can be the death of the traveler’s budget. All too rarely do travelers use public transportation. Don’t let the appearance of busses—big, bulky, trailing clouds of smoke—discourage you. But if you do, look for subways or light rail. While it might seem like a pain to learn the system in a new town, travel gives you all sorts of pockets of time that you can use that way.
It makes sense to look for the closest steakhouse or a mall with a movie theatre. A lot of people like to get to their entertainments as quickly and simply as possible while on the road. But exploring a bit can really make a difference.
Getting off the main drag and finding a few out-of-the-way spots simulates being back in your familiar home town where you have the time to explore these things. It’s rejuvenating and mentally refreshing.
5. Pack smart
All too often, business travelers brush off the nagging task of being sure to pack every little toiletry and every small item. It’s too easy to say you can just buy these things at the airport, the hotel lobby, etc. But this strategy is not only expensive, but it’s inefficient and it will leave you without your hair gel or nail polish right when you don’t have time to buy some. It also uses up too much of your off-time for running little errands like this.
Collect travel-size versions of as many as these things as possible to maximize precious luggage space. Stash things in pockets if needed—do all you can to fit all the items you need—it’s the much better way.
All of these tips require a bit of time. Most of them could seem like a bit of a pain, or complicated. But don’t fall into the trap of always opting for the simplest option. What’s simple can lead to a sterile and soulless experience. Cooking, for example, is usually therapeutic and fun. Why save time only to use it sitting in a hotel room flipping through channels or sitting under cool lighting in a bar?