Planning is important

Whether it's a train journey to another town or a multi-destination international venture, planning is the key to maximising the benefits of business travelling.

Research your journey options in advance. Pay particular attention to time-consuming extras like:

  • Airport check-in times
  • Journeys to and from airports or stations
  • Distances between meetings
  • Time differences
  • Traffic conditions at various times of day
  • Convenience of hotels and meeting places

If established contacts within your organisation or your clients can't help answer points like these, use internet sites and e-mail links to the tourist board at each destination. Many of these are established and funded by local businesses and are as expert as helping business travellers as leisure tourists. Use this information to draw up a written timetable of the trip.

Do not over plan

However, there are always unpredictable elements to travelling -the weather alone can cause severe transport delays. Through no fault of your own, your first appointment may arrive late and throw your detailed schedule into disarray.

Therefore, beware of the common business travel fault of over-planning. This is a journey, not a rocket launch. Even military strategists build in extra time in any schedule to allow for unforeseen changes. If your itinerary is too tight, one late train or missed connection could have a disastrous knock-on effect, with appointments crashing into each other like dominoes. Airlines, for example, advise connecting passengers to allow 45 to 75 minutes between connecting flights to allow for delays and hold-ups transferring to the second flight.

Stay flexible

The golden rule is to allow extra time at every stage. It is better to plan fewer appointments that are guaranteed to be useful than have to cut a profitable discussion short in order to make the next point on the itinerary.

Many successful time managers have a daily list of tasks that can be carried out at any point of the day, whenever there's a gap in their schedule. The tasks could range from checking the financial pages to calling head office. Even sleeping can be fitted into this schedule. Can you sleep on the journey? It's a simple way of maximising time usage when you arrive.