May 04, 2021
By Laura Fredericks

There are a lot of things to remember when you’re traveling for business. Did you finish the presentation? Do you have your phone charger? What was your contact’s name again? Being so, we’re here to help you remember all the essentials with our ultimate business travel checklist.

This business travel checklist can help you stay organized and ensure that you don’t forget something important when you’re traveling for work. Below, we cover what you need to remember before, during, and after you travel. We also share some useful hacks from seasoned travelers to make things a bit easier for you, as well as provide links to helpful resources.

But before getting started, remember that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to business travel. Every destination — and every company that requires travel — is different. With that being the case, some of the below tips (such as booking accommodations or purchasing trip insurance) may not be applicable. But no matter what, we encourage you to cover your bases and ensure that the essentials are taken care of, and this guide is a great place to do just that.

Your complete business travel checklist:

Research your destination

  • Read about the area you’ll be traveling to, even if you've been there before. Consider things that will be important to know on your trip, such as the current political situation, cultural differences, crime, business hours, and business attire.
  • Research the top attractions and foods to try at your destination. You may end up with some free time to see more than you expected. You may even turn it into a bleisure trip.
  • Talk to friends and colleagues who have been to the location before in case they have any tips.

Make travel arrangements

  • Check that your passport, ID, and appropriate visas are valid.
  • If you’re responsible for booking travel yourself, find out about any budget or itinerary requirements. If you’re not responsible for booking travel, submit your proposed itinerary to the appropriate person.
  • Book the most direct and simple travel that your budget will allow.
  • Plan your arrival and departure with your reason for traveling (i.e. meetings) in mind. Consider whether you’ll need to arrive the night before or leave the next day based on your meeting times.
  • Book accommodations close to where your business will take place.
  • Book transport to the airport or train station. Think about each leg of the journey and what you’ll need to book ahead of time.
  • If you’re a member of airline or hotel loyalty programs, consider booking with those brands to get points. If you travel for business frequently and aren't signed up for these programs, make sure to do so.
  • Sign up for Global EntryTSA PreCheck, or Clear, if appropriate. These will make traveling a bit faster and easier.
  • Consider trip insurance to cover unforeseen circumstances.

Create your itinerary

  • Communicate with the people you’ll be meeting with to make sure there's an itinerary for your trip. You should know who you’re meeting with, and when and where those meetings will take place. 
  • Check if there’s anything out of the ordinary that you need to bring with you. Confirm whether you will have access to Wi-Fi, power, a presentation screen, and other necessary equipment.
  • Know your schedule and what functions you're going to attend so that you can pack appropriately (more on this later).

Prepare for your meetings

  • Establish some quick goals and objectives for each of your meetings.
  • Review the names, roles, and titles of the people you’ll be meeting with.
  • Prepare necessary documents and presentations in a shareable format, and send them ahead of time if necessary.
  • Review the key information that you’ll need to share.
  • Save a map and directions to your meetings on your phone or computer, or print them out if you prefer. If you have to drive or take public transportation, be sure to plan ahead and take traffic and other delays into consideration.

Pack

  • Check whether you need to purchase any travel supplies to restock from your last trip.
  • Check TSA and other appropriate regulations restricting the size and weight of your luggage, and any restrictions on personal items like toiletries.
  • Try to limit yourself to a carry-on suitcase if possible. You’ll save yourself the time and stress associated with checking a bag. If you do check a bag, make sure you have essentials like your electronics, medications, and a change of clothes in your carry-on just in case.
  • Consider using packing cubes to organize and streamline your belongings.
  • Put toiletries in a clear plastic bag that you can seal to prevent leaks.
  • Bring clothes that are wrinkle-resistant and easy to layer. Stick to solid and neutral colors so that they're easy to combine into various outfits. This will make planning your outfits easier for a multi-day trip.
  • Consider bringing a wide scarf to use for cold weather. It can double as a blanket on the plane and a cover-up for modesty in certain countries or cultures.
  • Don’t forget your:
    • Passport/visa for the location(s) you’re visiting, credit cards, bank cards, and a personal ID (consider storing a high-res image of these on your phone as a backup).
    • Vaccination record with the appropriate immunizations for the location(s) you’re visiting.
    • Enough local currency for transportation and a bite to eat when you arrive. You can change more money later if necessary.
    • Business cards.
    • Notebook and pen.
    • Appropriate gear for the weather at your destination.
    • Chargers (and plug converters if necessary) for all of your devices.
    • Noise-canceling headphones or earplugs for the plane and noisy spaces.
    • Necessary medications.
    • “Deal with anything” kit, including band-aids, stain remover pen, lint roller, breath mints, allergy medication, upset stomach medication, pain relievers, cold medication, hand sanitizer, face mask, and baby wipes.
    • Casual clothes for evenings and weekends.
    • Workout gear.
    • Water bottle.

Get ready to leave

  • Save all of the documents you need to a hard drive or the cloud so that you have an extra copy.
  • If needed, print your tickets and confirmations for transport, lodging, and flights.
  • Set up your out-of-office message for the days you’ll be traveling.
  • Let your coworkers know where you’re going and for how long.
  • Make sure you have coverage for office responsibilities that you’ll miss.
  • Find someone to take care of your pets and water your plants while you’re gone.
  • If you’ll be gone for more than a few days, consider pausing your mail and packages.
  • Give your itinerary and contact information to a trusted friend or family member so they know where you are.
  • Consider cleaning and putting a meal in the freezer so that you come home to a clean house and easy dinner.
  • Charge all of your devices the night before so that you don’t end up with unexpected outages.
  • Check the weather forecast for your destination so that you can add any necessary gear, like an umbrella.

On travel day

  • Lock your doors and windows, adjust your thermostat, and turn on your alarm.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and take out the trash.
  • If there is a time difference at your destination, try to get as much sunlight as possible during the day to reduce jet lag.
  • Make sure to hydrate more than usual. This will help with travel fatigue and jet lag.

Bonus tips

  • Keep a printed version of this checklist and your packing list in your suitcase so that you have it for all your future trips (or store a digital version on your phone or computer).
  • Do your best to take a short walk outside, take a scenic route to a meeting, or visit a restaurant at your destination. You don’t want the only things you see to be hotel rooms and conference centers!

Put this business travel checklist to good use!

Traveling for work doesn't have to be stressful. With this business travel checklist, you'll be well on your way to a streamlined trip that may just turn into a vacation along the way.

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Laura Fredericks

Laura brings a decade of insight to improving marketing, as she has worked in technology since 2010. She has experience starting and scaling a business, driving customer marketing, and speaking at live events, including WeDC Fest 2018. She founded Describli and Paradigm Labs, and currently works with companies to improve their customer relationship management and content strategy. LinkedIn | Website
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