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How to travel for work

  • Don’t arrive hot and bothered.  It’s OK to take off your coat and jacket on public transport. Honestly, you don’t have to sit there baking, although people on the Tube seem to think there are laws against undressing.*
  • Know where you are going.  That means maps!  And/or an accurate postcode for GPS.  Plus phone number of anyone you are meeting, and the reception of the place you are going, and perhaps a local taxi firm.
  • Scout out a parking place – book one at your destination if possible.  And if you don’t know exactly where you are going to park, allow adequate time for driving around in a panic and then walking to your meeting location.
  • And know how to get back.  It’s not always the same…
  • Charge your technology before you leave home.  It’s no fun being stranded somewhere with no mobile phone battery, and a laptop on its last legs.  Going overseas?  Take an adapter.  It’s surprising how many times I have forgotten that electricity is different when you land.
  • Make up:  I did my make up on the Eurostar for 2 years.  It is possible!  Be discreet though, no one likes to watch.  Avoid tunnels – the light won’t be good enough.
  • Choose your shoes:  flats or trainers if you are doing a lot of walking or will be on a plane.  Heels if you can cope or if you can’t change on arrival.

A note on shoes:  I attended a seminar about personal style that said you shouldn’t use eco bags as they don’t look professional. Instead, pop all your stuff in a leather bag or briefcase. Like that’s practical.  It’s more about where you are going.  If you are going to a meeting off-site you don’t want to turn up with a whole gym kit, but if you are just going to the office you can take a shoe bag with you.  Or leave your shoes under your desk, in your locker, or in the bottom of your filing cabinet.  Or all of the above, like me.

  • Use your travel time.  Review your emails on your BlackBerry, return calls (if you can get a signal), catch up on reading trade journals or listen to podcasts.  Choose carefully if you are driving!
  • Arrive all ready:  wherever you end up, be ready.  You can probably get away with a quick trip to the ladies, but you don’t want to spend hours in there brushing crumbs off your shirt, doing your make up and fixing your hair.  Besides, the receptionist has probably already made a decision about you.  Be extra-specially careful if you’re going somewhere for an interview.

Remember, when you’re working away on business, you are likely to be judged even more than in the safety of your office:  both as yourself and as a representative of your organisation.  So be prepared, be organised and be on time!

* There are laws against undressing in public.  But you know what I mean.  Coats, hats and scarves are all unnecessary underground, people!

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