Between coordinating your travel arrangements, packing appropriately, setting up client meetings and navigating a potentially unfamiliar destination, business trips have always been stressful.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every aspect of daily life changed and became more complicated: including business travel.
You may have more concerns about your health and safety than you did before, or wonder how you can plan ahead for some of the unprecedented complications currently plaguing the travel industry.
Fortunately, keeping a few key tips in mind while you plan and embark on your next business trip can help reduce stress and make your experience more enjoyable.
Here’s what you should know about how COVID-19 impacts business travel and what you can do about it.
- Book in Advance
There are a couple of reasons you might want to make your business travel arrangements as soon as you have meeting dates confirmed with your clients.
First, booking as early as possible can help save money because you have more time to compare rates and a wider range of available options for flights and hotel rooms.
Second, airlines are scheduling fewer flights and some hotels are operating at partial capacity for reasons like staffing shortages, reduced demand, and budget cuts.
Consider making your reservations early to remove the stress and anxiety of rushing to compete for those pricey, last-minute rates on less-than-ideal tickets and hotel rooms.
- Prep Your Immune System
Your immune system is your best defense against illness, so it’s wise to do everything you can to make sure you’re strong and healthy before departure.
Taking care of your immune system is pretty simple. You can boost immunity before your trip by:
- Get plenty of rest before your trip
- Eat healthy foods
- Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol
- Ask your doctor about vitamins and supplements you can take
- Safely exercise
- Get a COVID-19 vaccination if it’s safe and right for you
- Check Your Bag
As a business traveler, you’ve probably become an expert at packing an efficient carry-on bag for optimal convenience. However, that may not be your safest option these days.
A carry-on bag travels with you in the passenger cabin, where it can be exposed to more germs from other people. If you need to dig through your bag for anything during your flight, your clothing and other items might make contact with contaminated surfaces and air, too.
Checking your main bag reduces the likelihood that the contents of your luggage will pick up bacteria and viruses that could make you sick. If you need certain items during your flight, pack a small backpack or tote with only the things you’ll need.
- Be More Diligent About Health and Hygiene Practices
Most likely, you already make a habit of washing your hands before you eat and after visiting the restroom. Perhaps you apply hand sanitizer from time to time as a precautionary measure.
While traveling, however, you may not be aware of how many contaminated surfaces you touch. If you haven’t cleaned your hands after picking up those germs, simple actions like touching your eyes, nose, or mouth can make you sick.
To stay well on business trips during the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure you wash or sanitize your hands more frequently than you usually would.
You can help stop the spread of illnesses like COVID-19 and the flu by coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow, avoid shaking hands, and wearing a mask in public places where social distancing isn’t possible.
- Book Flights and Accommodations with a Flexible Cancellation Policy
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to plan for the unexpected.
You, your client, or a family member may get sick and cause you to postpone your trip. Your flight may be cancelled due to staffing shortages or severe weather. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as a missed connecting flight.
To protect your business travel funds, consider opting for flight and hotel reservations with flexible cancellation policies. Though you hope not to encounter unexpected mishaps, it’s worth paying a bit more for your booking if it means you can change your plans without major impacts to your travel budget.
- Opt for Separate Hotel Rooms
While it may have been practical and budget-savvy to have two colleagues share a hotel room in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted corporate mentality away from frugality toward employee safety.
Even if you know your business travel companion very well and trust them to maintain healthy habits, it’s not worth risking the possibility that one or both of you could become ill and be unable to fulfill your client commitments.
- Take a Few Post-Trip Vacation Days
If you have unused vacation days, consider using a few of them to relax and recharge after your business trip.
Doing so can benefit both your mental and physical health by giving your body and mind the opportunity to recover before jumping back into a busy routine.
Additionally, taking a few days off before returning to the office may help protect your coworkers if you happen to become ill during your trip but aren’t symptomatic right away.
While COVID-19 might add a few extra complications to the already stressful world of business travel, it doesn’t need to negatively impact your success and well-being.
Keep these essential tips in mind to ensure your own safety as well as that of your colleagues and clients.
Best of luck!