When I ventured into the real world, I thought I had plenty of corporate experience from working in offices for a few years at internships.
I thought I had it down; a birthday cake here, a new computer system there. All part of working in an office.
But with my first “real” job, I’ve tumbled into something I’d never seen before: traveling for work.
I knew traveling was a possibility when I accepted my position, but what I didn’t know was how prevalent it would be; I’ve already taken one trip and have at least two more in the coming months.
Getting paid to travel sounds fun and easy when you first join the workforce. However, I quickly learned some things any entry-level employee should know before jet-setting around on the company dime. Here are my top lessons.
It’s Not A Vacation
You can watch Up In The Air and dream of George Clooney’s life if you’d like, but from my brief experience, that’s not what is in store for the average entry-level business trip. It’s much less glamorous (although, spoiler alert, maybe that’s what Clooney learned in the end?).
My first trip was to Dallas-Fort Worth. I use the hyphen and both city names because our event was at an airport hotel, and we never left that hotel. It’s certainly fun to change the daily routine, but I had no time for sightseeing—and that’s fine. After all, if your company sends you somewhere, remember that your company sent you there.
They paid your way, so focus on why that was. Odds are, it will be for you to do something like close a deal or get some training—not to visit Dinosaur World (maybe next time, Dallas-Fort Worth). If you get to experience some local culture, great. Still, it’s called a “business trip” for a reason.
2. Packing Problems
Expecting little time for leisure, I packed almost exclusively for the work portion of our trip. When we were working, I was properly dressed and had a few different options.
But when we weren’t working, I wasn’t as prepared. I brought only one or two things to relax or exercise in. Those workout clothes got dirty fast, leaving me with very little to wear after work hours or for comfort.
The lesson? Be sure to think about all the situations you may encounter. Bring some emergency comfort clothes with you, as well as something a little easier to wear on the flight home. Next time, I’ll be ready
3. Expensive Expenses
From taxi rides to meals, airline fees, and so much more, there are so many things to pay for while traveling—both the expected and the unforeseeable.
Most companies reimburse for any necessary expenses (after all, see point one above). Mine is glad to pick these up; however, doing so means I actually have to keep track of what I’m spending. That means saving receipts, which can be tough if you’re used to just crumpling them up. Make things easier on yourself by bringing an envelope or devising some other system to track what you spend.
Also, don’t put off submitting your expenses. Your company may not have a time limit for reimbursing you, but your bank account may need that money sooner rather than later. I’m no role model, though. I kept the receipts but haven’t filed the expenses. Do as I say, not as I do.
What did you learn from your first business trip? Share your tip in the comments.