Traveling for pleasure is fun. Traveling more than 70% of your time for work? Not so much fun, especially when that percentage used to be 10%.
For seven years, I spent my career working in fashion PR in New York. I definitely did not think that I would spend another seven years in the Big Apple but when a large healthcare firm in Dallas approached my husband promising a big payout and a cushy lifestyle, we couldn’t refuse. However, 80% of our clients were based in New York so the intense traveling commenced immediately.
In order to keep our clients satisfied, our employees motivated and the business thriving, I had to establish some new rules for myself to stay productive while traveling.
1. Create an action plan for each trip
Write out a priority list of things you must complete during your trip. Whether that is finalizing a report, drafting a new business proposal or preparing for an employee salary review, write it down so you can plan each day accordingly. Put a deadline next to each task. Don’t overcommit! Be sure this plan is realistic and balances well with your schedule. Most importantly, review your list before you leave with your team and every morning and night.
2. Invest in good Wi-Fi
Stay away from wireless Internet sticks or cards. If you fly from the same airports or airlines often, it is wise to invest in their monthly plans. You will never have to worry about being disconnected from your team or clients. If you have to choose one, go for the monthly airline plan versus the airport plan. Work from your mobile device until you board. Moreover, some airports also offer complimentary 30-minute Internet sessions so you can just clear your cookies every thirty minutes.
3. Pack snacks and eat well
I am that traveler that always complains about the unhealthy snacks and overpriced healthy snacks at the airport. To stay energized, I pack snacks like nuts, fruits, protein bars and dried berries to keep me moving. A hungry headache will affect your entire day, especially if you have a full day ahead when you land. Try not to get tempted by the Popeye’s Chicken on your way to the gate! Fatty, greasy foods will just make you sleepy.
If you fly from the same airports or airlines often, it is wise to invest in their monthly plans.
4. Have a communications plan for employees
Minimally, I am out of the office for 2 -3 days out of the week. The longest I am ever away is 2 weeks at a time, which is usually around our busier months (February, March, September and October). Because I am always on the go, my team doesn’t get as much face-time with me anymore. So, I implemented specific communications process to stay on top of my employees and help us all be productive while I am traveling.
The system consists of each employee sending me an email every morning outlining their tasks for the day, their priorities, calls, meetings, etc. This helps me determine if I need to jump in and change that plan or determine a quick touch base chat mid-day to see where they are with their assignments.
5. Upgrade your credit card
Most credit card companies have incredible perks for travelers. I am a huge supporter of American Express. Although the annual fee is hefty, it is definitely worth every penny. The American Express lounge keeps me connected to the Internet, they offer great refreshments and it is usually pretty quiet so you can get work done and make a few calls too (I’ve taken quite a few phone meetings in the lounge). Some cards also offer perks like free seat upgrades, so doing work on the plane is made even easier.
I implemented specific communications process to stay on top of my employees and help us all be productive while I am traveling.
6. Never sleep on the plane
It is super important to get a good night sleep, eat and download all of your important documents the day before. Choosing a red-eye flight and sleeping is just not an option on the plane anymore. Most of my flights are between 3-6 hours so that means I can get a ton of work done. Always go for a window seat; the woman who has a bladder problem will not disturb you. This is the best time to be productive; when I am really tired, I get a caffeine boost or nap for 45 minutes.
When traveling a ton for work it’s important to have systems in place to help you maintain your productivity, stay connected to your team and clients, while ensuring good self-care.
About Erica Hicks Anderson
Erica Hicks Anderson is the Chief Strategist of PR VEIN, a boutique fashion and lifestyle communications firm that specializes in taking top emerging brands and influencers to the next level. She is originally from Miami, Florida and received degrees from New York University and Florida A&M University. Anderson has worked for companies such as The Net-a- Porter Group, KCD Worldwide, Tommy Hilfiger, Vogue Magazine and IMG. You can find her in New York, Los Angeles, Miami or Dallas where she frequently travels. Verizon, LaQuan Smith, @TheAmbitionista, and COSIGN are just a few brands and influencers that have retained PR VEIN for its quality services.