The Beauty of Business Trips

10 Ways Traveling for Work Can Expand Your Network and Horizons 

Starting out in any professional life can be wrought with new challenges and obstacles. Often, people assume that they need to settle down and steadily grow their network and circle of friends to get ahead.  However, the opposite can be true: not staying in the same office for month after month, and instead traveling a lot for work, may be a professional boon.

After all, in this global market, an insular, isolated outlook can be the last thing your career needs. It may be time to re-consider how volunteering for a business trip, or getting over your own gripes on the topic (hate airport security; always lose expense receipts) can advance you  professionally, and significantly.

No matter if you are a cubicle denizen, freelance neurotic, or a “between-careers” professional, the tips below will show you the good side of traveling for work and provide comebacks for your own, most common excuses for not taking that business trip.  Keep an open mind; a new perspective on the subject  may garner big professional rewards for you down the line.

1. Travel Expands Your Professional Horizons
Even if you are settled into a dream job, there is always a reason to establish farther-reaching networks. We live in a global world, and professional roles need more and more connection to people outside of their geographic area. Business partnerships, job offers, personal cross-promotion, and even vacation stays can be generated by meeting someone new and compatible in your growing network. Never underestimate the importance of connections in our new, broadly-connected world.

2. Stop Stalling, and Instead Re-Charge Thru New Relationships 
Obviously, stagnation is the death of progression.  If you charge forward every day doing the same routine, then you will be in jeopardy of falling behind those who are experiencing new challenges and adapting. Traveling opens up those challenges through dialogue with more experienced professionals in your field.  Even people in similar, adjacent careers can provide insight into their challenges, which in turn will help you think of solutions or links between your experience and theirs. Take the opportunity to learn from others’ situations to invent better solutions for yourself.  

3. Nowadays, It’s Easy to Stay in Contact with Family and Friends while Traveling 
A lot of times people forgo traveling because they are afraid of missing home, friends, or events too much. It is true that some sacrifices have to be made, but not sacrificing means there is nothing to gain. (Thus the saying “no pain, no gain.”)  Your career is definitely something to cherish, and where maximizing its potential may involve some trade-offs. But with Skype, the internet, and almost global phone coverage, the days of lonely solitude when traveling are behind us, and thus, this trade-off may be a moot point.

4. Get Crucial Info about What’s Out There in the Big, Wide World (Even New Career Opportunities!)
Traveling is a great way for maximum exposure to different lifestyles. Day-to-day rituals can make people and habits become automatic scenery. However, when we travel even routine functions give rise to new experiences, e.g. eating out, finding coffee shops, talking to strangers. Let these new experiences provide some introspection on where you are. Many times learning about new cities, people, and even jobs we never knew existed help determine our own next steps.

5. Find New Perspectives on Optimum Work Habits
Have you ever taken a nap in the middle of the day? In America, the answer is most likely ‘no’ — even with study after study supporting the benefits of a mid-day break and naps lasting 10-20 minutes. Instead, most of us reach for that afternoon double espresso.  Other societies, such as Japan, where naps are encouraged as part of a professional life, can show better ways of doing things where our own culture may have a weak spot.

6. Let’s Get Practical: Credit Card Perks Really Add Up!
Try to travel solo, since it is easier to expense a trip yourself and then get reimbursed. Even if you are not purchasing everything through a corporate travel management company, start using the airline, car rental, and hotel credit cards and rewards programs that your company supports. Sometimes companies just prefer the cheapest travel arrangements, but if you are constantly traveling to one city, pick a specific airline and hotel to collect points. Not only will your credit score increase, but you will start benefiting from a huge amount of rewards without paying a single cent of your own. 

7. Head Off Any Jitters about Travel by Being Self-Disciplined
The hardest part of traveling for work can be that it feels like vacation. For instance, nobody is walking past you in the corridor to ask for a copy of that report; you can work from wherever you choose, and often the time zones are different. This is the hardest but one of the most most important parts of traveling for work – the exotic feeling of newness — and you need to step up and show that you can handle it. So create a routine similar to the one you have at home. This will help you draw on familiar habits and greatly reduce your desire to drop everything and go sightseeing all day. And make sure to save travel perks – a-once-in-a-lifetime visit to a famous restaurant/cathedral/top of a skyscraper to take in the view — for breaks or after you have completed that big project. 

8. Showing How Your Travel Will Benefit the Company Can Also Benefit You
For those who feel disenfranchised about professional decisions – being left out of that dream trip to London, for instance — there are still ways to be included in your company’s business trips. Create a report and a detailed breakdown about how going to a particular convention/workshop will benefit not only you, but your role within the company. Almost every job today requires continuing education to keep up with the innovations others are creating around the world. No longer is personal experience enough; outside education is needed to cover industry jumps more quickly.  Make this a point in your presentation to your boss or whoever makes the travel decisions. 

9. It’s Simple: With Travel, You Experience more, Learn More, and Create More
We can’t all be freelance photographers or writers traveling the world and living off our artistic abilities. The world needs analytical minds, but that is no reason to lose creativity. Whether you are discovering a better way to write spreadsheets or even communicate with colleagues, traveling will inspire you to think outside of your box (cubicle) and create new, better (i.e. innovative) methods of work.

10. Get in a Great Mini-Vacation on a Business Trip (but remember bullet #7!)
Many conventions, workshops, or lectures are centered in places of interest or – let’s be honest – the people who run them  would never get people to sign up. Typically, work functions start on Mondays and end Wednesdays or Thursdays.  If you have never been to that beautiful, always-wanted-to-go-there city, a great idea is to fly in and out on Saturdays. First, that is the cheapest day to travel, and you will have virtually no one to fuss against in the airport security lines. Second, it will give you a few days to find your way to the work area, tour about the city, and even meet some friends for dinner that will not compete against your networking time.

There are always reasons to travel, and work can be a great asset to utilize for even more ways to see the world. With almost all expenses covered and networking events set up for you, this is a huge area on which you can capitalize.

Traveling will educate you through experience, grow your network further than you could ever imagine, and even expose untapped professional ambitions lying dormant within you.  It may take getting used to, and a tentative first trip to begin to see the benefits.   But, when in doubt about this issue, remember a quote by Saint Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”


Previously written for Sharp Heels