Have you ever found yourself with some unexpected free time? At the doctor’s office the other day, I arrived about 20 minutes early. My fingers had not even touched a magazine before they called my name and said, “If you’re ready, the doctor would like to see you now, we’re running a bit early.” Whoa. That never happens. I took a ? day off from work and after my appointment; I had 3 hours and 52 minutes left! What to do…
The unfortunate irony of business travel is; the more work you need to accomplish at a remote site, the less time your managers seem to want to allocate for you to do it. While I write about them a lot, 5-day travel opportunities are rare, unless you’ve got a monumental amount of work to do. Reality usually finds the traveler at work in these remote locations, well after 6pm. Nothing represents the lopsided nature of the work:time ratio better than the “Single Day Trip.”
Single Day Trips (or SDTs as we refer to them), are the worst ever. Somehow in one 24 hour period, you’re expected to fly to the customer site, pick up your rental car, find and drive to the customer location, work, have your meeting, etc, find your hotel, sleep about an hour, get up early, fight your way back to the airport in time to grab the red-eye home, and get back to your office to fill out your trip summary, expense, and follow-up reports. Trips like this usually bring a suitcase full of stress along with them, and here are some tips to alleviate some of it:
<!–[if !supportLists]–>? <!–[endif]–>Don’t’ even think about checking a bag. This sort of insanity is reserved for people who have never been on an airplane before. People who check baggage for a one-day trip should seek counseling, or they should attend the Ken Walker school of packing necessary and unnecessary travel items.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>? <!–[endif]–>Wear your nice “customer clothes” on the plane when you leave for your trip. Avoid coffee and other food if you’re a “spiller.” Don some shoes that match your outfit, but that can also be worn with casual jeans.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>? <!–[endif]–>Consider not even taking a suitcase. My rolling laptop bag has enough room for my laptop and a single change of clothes (if I wear the same shoes). All you need is a pair of jeans, a casual shirt, new underwear and socks. I can roll that up and fit it in my rolling laptop bag, along with a travel sized deodorant, toothpaste, and other toiletries that are below the legal “liquid limit” imposed by the TSA.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>? <!–[endif]–>Reserve a hotel that is close to the airport and not one that is close to your customer. It’s much easier to wake up, put your casual clothes on, and hop to the airport when it’s close, than to get stuck in traffic or something because you stayed close to your customer.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>? <!–[endif]–>Just because you packed it, doesn’t mean you have to bring it home. If you pack travel sized containers, or small amounts of things in disposable containers, just leave them behind when you pack to go home.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>? <!–[endif]–>Leave your chargers at home. You’re gone for less than 30 hours, do you really need your phone charger and other electrical cords and gizmos?
If you think I rushed back to work with my 3 hours and 52 minutes in my pocket, you’re sadly mistaken. I bought a newspaper and went to Denny’s for some good coffee, a breakfast biscuit and some “down time.” You gotta take it when you can get it!
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.