How to Prepare for Travel
Learn how a travel prep sheet can make traveling a breeze.
Traveling for business can be tricky. It’s easy to forget something, or forget some critical piece of information that makes the difference between a successful trip and an exercise in chaos.
My friend Bernice is traveling for the first time. I sent her to review episode 54 on bundle packing so your clothes don’t wrinkle. She brushed off my advice and insisted on turning to her muse for guidance. Specifically, the John Denver song, “I’m leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again.” She exclaimed, “This means I do not have to obsess over details such as remembering the time of my return flight. I will leave it to the Goddess to guide me.” Good for you, Bernice. Let me know how that works out. I gave Melvin her flight details, just in case.
How to Prepare for Travel
I spent a couple of years doing public speaking at conferences and for private clients. With the release of my new book Get-it-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More (order it at your favorite bookstore today!) I will again be doing a fair amount of speaking.
There’s lots of travel involved, and advance planning makes business travel go smoothly. My assistant and I designed a one-page Travel Prep Sheet, where we would fill in all the relevant logistical information about a trip. We prepared a form for every trip I took, and we knew if it was completely filled out, we’d covered just about every possible base. When we left a portion blank, sure enough, that’s where the chaos would erupt. Try it yourself, and expand it to meet the needs of whatever your travel involves. I’ll tell you what you should put on your Travel Prep Sheet.
This sounds obvious. What airline, flight number, date, and time is your flight? Double check it against your ticket. I scheduled a Caribbean cruise once and messed up the return ticket date by one day. That doesn’t work very well. Also note the terminal where the flight leaves.
One airline will often book seats on a flight that’s actually run by another airline. That is called a “codeshare” flight. Isn’t that sweet? It makes you think of two six-year olds playing spy, but sharing while they do it. Nope. In this case, United will book you. You’ll show up at Terminal A, United’s terminal, and they’ll inform you that the flight is operated by their codeshare partner at terminal Z. I’ve missed flights that way.
Destination Transportation Requirements
If you’re traveling on business, you’ll want to get right out of your plane and directly into your stretch limo, so you can pour yourself a glass of champagne and recover from the harrowing experience of not flying privately. Make sure you know the name of the limo company that’s meeting you, and where the limo or driver will meet you. Ideally, they’ll come to the baggage claim area and hold up a big sign with your name displayed right above the phrase “This person is important enough to be picked up by limo.”
[[AdMiddle]Sadly, that never happens for me. I drive myself. So if you’re picking up a rental car to drive 46 miles through an ice storm in central Michigan in winter (true story), note down the rental company, confirmation number, and their 1-800 number just to be safe. That way, when the local branch loses your reservation, you can just pick up a phone and start sorting your way through the red tape.
Who’s Meeting You
If you’re traveling to a client, they may meet you at the airport or at your hotel. Get the name, email address, and cell phone number of the person meeting you. Also know where they’re meeting you and what time. I was supposed to meet a client at “the exit to the train station” in Stamford, Connecticut. Unfortunately, there are two exits. It was raining so hard visibility was about 5 feet. There was no driver, standing with a big sign that had my name on it. After 20 minutes in the rain, I took a $50 cab ride to the hotel. Then, a full hour later, I got a cell phone call from the driver asking where I was. If I’d had their cell number, we would have resolved things instantly. At least I rode back with the car service. Did you know it’s possible to slowly sprinkle an entire pack of itching powder down the back of a driver’s shirt without him noticing? It’s not very safe, but it is amusing until he runs the car into a ditch.
Your Schedule Once You’re There
If at all possible, find out your schedule and include that on your summary form. Where and when are you expected? Are some events optional? If you’re a consultant, for instance, you might be expected to attend the team lunch before the session you’ve actually been brought in for. Or perhaps there’s a post-event cocktail party where insincere people with fancy business cards will ask to exchange contact information, so you can exploit each other to mutual advantage sometime in the future. Once you know your schedule, you can schedule sightseeing into your free time. There’s no better time to see museums, art galleries, the altar where Cthulhu devours his sacrificial victims, or the local walking tour of great bird-watching ponds.
I’ve included everything on one handy form that you can download from http://www.steverrobbins.com/assets/147-travel-prep-form.pdf.
Bernice is standing outside with her bags packed, apparently waiting for a cab. I called down to ask whether she actually called the cab company. “The Goddess will provide,” she hollered back. Her flight leaves in less than two hours. I’m off to go suggest Melvin make a phone call. Quietly. And thus does the Goddess provide.
Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!
http://getitdone.quickanddirtytips.com/wrinkle-free-clothes.aspx – Episode on bundle packing for travel
http://www.steverrobbins.com/assets/147-travel-prep-form.pdf– Sample travel prep sheet
Image courtesy of Shutterstoc>