There is already too much work. And now I need to travel for work? Now there is more to do. And even more to remember! How will I manage?
Those who travel regularly for work have a routine that is as innate as looking both ways before crossing the street. But even frequent travelers can forget important items. Because most of us are not frequent or even regular business travelers, business travel can become very stressful and worrisome. Non‑routine actions, such as irregular business travel, mean there is an inherent risk of forgetting or overlooking something important. Once on the road, some forgotten items can stop business travel altogether (I forgot my passport!) or impede it (I forgot my cell phone charger and prescription medication!). The key is being prepared.
If insufficiently prepared, your trip will be impeded by lack of preparation and foresight or end before it starts. In business, there are few things worse than being unprepared and appearing unprofessional. But don’t worry. You can avoid this fate. Let me share how.
Is Worry-free Travel Possible?
Many who travel for business feel that there is no time to relax until returning home. This is not surprising. Business travel can take significant time. Meanwhile, emails are stacking up, workloads are expanding, and stress is increasing because you are driving or sitting on a plane instead of being productive in the office. You realize that when you get home, you will have a mountain of work to manage. So much for any anticipated relaxation.
Can travel really be worry-free? Yes! Check that.
Use a Checklist!
Take the time to document trip preparation using a checklist. Be sure not to rush this task. In the checklist, carefully identify what needs to be done and remembered. Include all useful details. Then, check off each item on the list as each is completed. This is a simple, yet proven and extremely effective method of organizing for travel.
Pro Tip: Begin preparing for a trip several days in advance.
Many professionals in traditionally high-stress occupations (e.g., astronauts, pilots, and surgeons), frequently and routinely rely on checklists to ensure accuracy and thoroughness. This is what the professionals do. Be a professional.
A checklist is much more than a list of requirements: it is a management tool that lists various activities, behaviors, and tasks that need to be followed to achieve a successful outcome. It ensures that everything is completed correctly and in the correct sequence, ensuring that nothing is forgotten or overlooked.
Pro Tip: Download and use our free Travel Checklist!
A checklist ensures essential details about various tasks are in hand and available. This may include travel details when:
- Meeting a business partner or client;
- Visiting a construction site or supplier; or,
- Witnessing a factory acceptance test (FAT).
Many tasks and things to remember will be the same, regardless of the trip’s destination and purpose. Regardless, a checklist is always invaluable when it is difficult to easily recall all trip details. Chance favors the prepared business traveler.
A completed checklist ameliorates virtually all business travel stressors because it provides assurance that you are prepared, right down to the finer details, including:
- Coordinating arrangements and providing key information to co-travelling colleagues;
- Meeting business objectives to acquire information, share information, or both;
- Being prepared:
- For professional collaboration with business partners, employers, and project teams, and with the correct tools;
- Personally, by arranging childcare and having prescriptions or other required personal items on hand; and.
- To offer hands-on training-mentoring to less experienced personnel.
When traveling infrequently, the lack of routine makes it challenging to remember everything.
When traveling frequently, the repetition makes it challenging to remember everything.
In both cases, a checklist is the panacea. Check it. Forget it. Repeat.
Be prepared. Use a checklist when preparing for travel. To make a travel checklist most effective, tailor it to suit your business and personal needs. Use it:
- Many times as-is (e.g., for a series of similar day trips); and,
- As a template or exemplar that can be modified for each trip (e.g., for travel to other cities or countries).
Be professional. Use a checklist to ensure your trip is organized, predictable, productive, and successful.
Pro Tip: When traveling, save all receipts. Upon return, submit your expense report immediately to permit quick expense reimbursement.
Safe and worry-free travels!
- Joseph Fung. From Astronauts to CEOs: Why Checklists Are the Secret to Effectiveness. https://josephfung.ca/how-checklists-drive-productivity-efficiency-and-effectiveness-4c4ec6d6b664
- Checklist: What Are They? What Are the Benefits and How Do You Use Them? https://www.sydle.com/blog/checklist-61a786f45448461cf98f7b23
- Louis Pasteur. Adapted from his quotation Chance favors the prepared mind.
To learn about project success, read this KT Project eBook: The Key to Project Success? It’s All in How You Start!
Roy O. Christensen is a Welding Engineering Technologist who has over 35 years’ experience with oil and gas, pipelines, and other projects. He has authored countless instructions, manuals, plans, proposals, reports, specifications, and other documents that continue to drive success for many projects. He is the founder of the KT Project, which saves organizations significant money and time, by providing key resources to leverage expert knowledge transfer for successful project execution.