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7 Phrases Business Travelers Should Never Use

If you’re traveling for business, there’s usually a challenge waiting for you, whether it’s closing a deal, visiting a key client, or making a presentation.

But focusing on the big challenge can make you lose sight of the logistical details—the little things that can make your trip much harder than it needs to be.

Man in suit, holding coffee and hailing a cab in NYC

If you don’t travel for business often, it’s easy to set yourself up for pitfalls without realizing it. If you find one of these seven phrases coming out of your mouth, chances are you’ve just made a business travel mistake.

1. “I’m just checking in these two bags.”

Except on long business trips where you have no other choice, avoid bringing checked bags.

For one thing, if you don’t check it in, the airline can’t lose it. Bringing a heavy suitcase stuffed with clothes will often prove unnecessary and slow you down.

2. “But that was my only shirt!”

Although you should travel light, you should make room in your carry-on suitcase for a few essentials, such as a spare shirt or top, in case the unthinkable happens.

3. “That hotel room was such a bargain”

It’s easy to be lured into a cheap hotel room if your budget is tight. But you can end up paying in other ways.

A cheap hotel may not have the amenities you need, like reliable dry-cleaning service or a good hair dryer in the room.

Just as importantly, if you’re a long way from where you’ll be doing business, transportation costs can eat up whatever money you saved on accommodation. Add the stress of trying to navigate the taxis, traffic, or public transport in an unfamiliar city, and the cheap room quickly becomes a bad bargain.

4. “What do you mean, declined?”

Forget to notify your bank that you’re traveling, and they may put a hold on your credit and debit cards. And that can get awkward very quickly.

5. “Should I have brought a gift?”

Especially if you’re traveling overseas, it’s very important to understand the business culture of your destination. In Japan, for example, it is often appropriate to give gifts at business meetings, and the etiquette regarding gifts is complex.

Even within Western countries, business etiquette can vary widely. Meeting formality may be very different in Germany compared to (say) Australia.

Be sure to read up on the local etiquette if you’re traveling. Translation firm Kwintessential has some useful local guides—while these are (necessarily) very general, they can give you some sense of what to expect.

6. “I was too busy to see anything”

It’s likely any business trip will be extremely busy. When you’re not in meetings or entertaining, you’ll probably need to catch up on your email and check in with the office.

But you’ll probably get at least a few hours to yourself, and if you do, you should take the opportunity to see something of the city you’re in. That helps you avoid burnout and makes your trips more meaningful. (Related point: don’t embarrass yourself or your employer with social media posts critical of the city you’re visiting.)

7. “Well, I lost the receipt, but…”

Everyone knows that getting reimbursed depends on keeping receipts—or proving you were right to charge that dinner to the corporate credit card. But, of course, not everyone does.

Make an effort to keep your receipts safe, and to separate reimbursible and nonreimbursible expenses. Apps like Shoeboxed and Evernote’s Receipts let you photograph and classify receipts, so you don’t need to worry about losing them. And don’t forget that some expenses may be tax deductible even if you can’t get reimbursement for them.

We work hard to streamline your business trips and exceed your expectations. Learn more about how we can help with corporate travel through our corporate accounts.
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