Having been somewhere in my 20-30th business trip, I feel it would be a failure on my part to not use my experiences to give others some insight. I’ve made quite a few rookie mistakes over the past three years, and as they say, a stupid person never learns from their mistakes, a smart person learns from their mistakes and a genius learns from the mistakes of others.
Remember, you’re playing away from home, so one of the greatest strengths (having access to your full set of stuff) is now a weakness. Learn to play on the road and your team will win championships.
This goes without saying. It is the golden rule of the business trip and an overarching theme to this article. Preparation is an institution and an ideology. Learn it, live it, love it.
There is a fine line between having too much and being underprepared. There is limited room, whether you’re flying, driving or taking mass transit. Space is an issue. If you’re in the public sector like me, there are few times for enjoyment, so leisure time is usually spent watching Dodgeball or Jumanji for the 76th time. My coworkers happen to enjoy having a good time, and we use some of our valuable cargo space to smuggle beer and wine.
Bring a spare set of business casual.
Along the same lines of being prepared, having a spare set of clothing is imperative. You never know when you may spill something on yourself, crap yourself or have some Happy Gilmore’s final golf shot level of unlikeliness happen to you.
On one trip, I spilled queso on my shirt, giving the appearance of lactation. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind and knew that this was a very real scenario. Some less slobby people may think they are above using their precious space for a spare set of clothes but I promise, it’s the difference between shelling out money for a new shirt (if you even have time), using your spare shirt you thoughtfully packed or being known as queso tits for the remainder of your employment. Which brings me to my next point….
In life’s rat race, you can never really predict what odds and ends, curveballs or general adversity will be thrown your way. Giving yourself some extra time to be on time is a lifesaver. My rule is this: give yourself an extra 15 minutes to finish something up when you know how long it will take, and be 15 minutes early for your engagement. This gives you time to caffeinate, go over your notes one more time, set your fantasy football lineup while you still have Wi-Fi or run over to the mall and grab an overpriced Polo because you spilled shit on yourself. You don’t want to be the reason for the hold up or make your group late.
Take it easy
This past trip, I made a rookie mistake. I admit it, it was a dumbass idea. We went to an awesome local burrito place and as a fan of spicy food, the chicken burrito with habanero death sauce sang to me like a siren. While I didn’t shit myself, my stomach was on the fritz for the entire trip. I dared not drink coffee to evoke the fiery habanero demon shit that was brewing in my gut. It also made the trip home in a small car with my two bosses and work wife even worse because the black beans and habanero death sauce really synergized, reminding me of the “beans, beans” song. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t make another rookie mistake…
Bring the right toiletries
Remember the golden rule of “be prepared?” Man, I would have done anything for a TUMS. Coupled with the need for an Ibuprofen from the balmy car conditions my female coworkers required in the car ride down (yours truly had the only experience driving an SUV as I own one), falling asleep was miserable. My stomach felt like I swallowed a hot coal and my head cold was giving me the business. At least I remembered to bring my toothbrush and toothpaste, so I had that going for me which was nice.
Go the fuck to sleep
This one is a no brainer. Get enough sleep so you don’t look like a zombie the next morning. While coffee may make this easier, there’s nothing worse than being over-caffeinated in a five hour, boring ass meeting.
As a man, I go into a full-blown panic when I can’t find my wallet, cellphone or car keys. Seeing as a business trip usually entails going somewhere where a day trip cannot accomplish the goal, remembering to bring all your shit is imperative, as is bringing it home. Leaving your cellphone or laptop charger in the wall sucks when you’re driving down the highway 45 minutes into your return journey. Do you really want to play Russian Roulette with the hotel and hope the employees “find” your Clarks? Make a list of all the essentials and give it the Santa treatment (check that shit twice) to avoid this issue. Forgetting your laptop, cell phone charger, notes or other key essentials could be at best an inconvenience and at worst, get your fired.
In all, I am not a huge fan of traveling. Like conference calls, it is a necessary evil and part of why they pay you and I the big bucks. Keep the goal in mind, eyes on the prize and grind it out because sooner or later, you’ll get to go home and not have to stay in that piece of shit hotel with bleach smelling starchy sheets for a while. Hoist up the John B’s sails, I wanna go home..
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