Back to Work Travel: A Few Tips
By Melanie Kalmanson, Commercial Litigation Associate, Quarles & Brady
Events and conferences are returning to in-person, and work travel is starting to pick up again after COVID. Here are a few tips I have gathered along the way for work travel:
Make a one-sheet itinerary with meeting times, addresses, phone numbers, confirmation numbers, reimbursement budget codes, etc. That way you have one sheet of paper with all of your go-to information. Keep it handy while you’re traveling as a quick reference, and then it also makes it easier on the back end when you’re trying to pull all of the information together to submit a reimbursement request.
Working on the Plane
If you want to work on/read something on the plane without Wi-Fi, download it to your desktop before you board. Save your work straight to the file (so you’re not in a jam when it’s time to pack up for landing), and then re-upload to your system or server when you get back to Wi-Fi. Saves money on Wi-Fi and laptop battery without compromising productivity.
Worth the Money
A few worthwhile investments:
TSA Pre-Check. It really does save so much time; no more taking your shoes off, laptop/iPad out of the bag, or long security lines.
Spotify Premium or the like. If you’re like me and like to listen to music on the plane, download a playlist. It’ll play even in Airplane Mode.
If you can’t use a garment bag, pack your suits/work clothes in dry cleaning bags. After reading that it helps avoid wrinkles, I did this recently and had pretty good results.
Of course, packing snacks is always a good idea in case you’re caught between meetings without time to grab a meal. But going one step further, if you're not sure what the breakfast options will be or want to have something easy, healthy, and reliable, I like to take individual packs of instant oatmeal. It's easy to pack—lightweight and no liquid. Then, when you’re at the hotel, it is generally pretty easy to get some hot water. I recently did this for a week-long work trip so I didn’t have to worry about finding breakfast. Not only did it save money, but it also saved time and allowed me to work on a few things before leaving for the day rather than going to a coffee shop or the lobby for breakfast.
If you know you must leave at a certain time, use the Schedule-A-Ride feature in Uber or other ride apps for rides to/from the airport or meetings. That way, you know the ride is on time, and you're not fumbling with the app when you're trying to get out the door. Also, the app will automatically reschedule a new drive if one cancels, keeping you on schedule. The driver shows up on schedule to get you to where you need to be. This is especially helpful for very early flights or other events that are at odd hours when drivers may not necessarily be as abundant as usual. I have used this a couple times with great success.
Start a folder in your email or on your desktop for each trip. As expenses start (hotel, flight, etc.), move your receipts into the folder so everything is in one place when it’s time to submit your reimbursement information. For paper receipts, keep them all in one place and scan them into the folder when you get back. For my last trip, I went the extra step of then making a spreadsheet with all of my receipts to cross-reference everything. Also, having an itinerary (see #1) will help you remember what expenses you incurred.
This might be old school, but I always pack business cards. You never know who you might connect with waiting to board your flight or at Starbucks—your next colleague or your next client. Of course, you can always pull out your phone and send an email, but it is nice to have a card.
About the Author
Melanie Kalmanson is a Commercial Litigation Associate at Quarles & Brady LLP in Tampa, Florida. She represents clients in all phases of litigation in state and federal court. Before private practice, she served as a law clerk to Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente.