Whether you're traveling for a few days or a few weeks, taking a business trip can be an exhilarating experience. It can also be a stressful one if you aren't prepared. Here are a few things you can do to make the most of your upcoming journey.

1. Time your flights strategically

If you're like most business travelers, you don't have an unlimited amount of time to spend at your destination. That's why it's crucial to make the most of the days you're away, which also means timing things so that you don't arrive exhausted and out of sorts. Ideally, you should schedule your flight so that adjusting to whatever time zone you're in is as easy as possible. For example, if you're going from New York to London, take a late evening flight so that you're likely to sleep a little on the plane. You'll then need to power through your first day there, but if you go to bed early that night, you should be adjusted by the time you wake up the following morning.

Man with a suitcase at an airport

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2. Set up key meetings in advance

One benefit of traveling for work is getting to talk to remote associates face to face, as opposed to just via phone or email. In-person meetings are a great way to build or strengthen relationships, so don't make the mistake of assuming that your various contacts will be available the week you happen to roll into town. Rather, arrange those meetings well in advance to ensure that you get the face time you're after.

3. Give yourself time to get settled in

You might think you'll arrive at your destination city ready to jump right into an agenda, but in reality, travel can take a toll on your body, especially if you're changing time zones or coming off a lengthy -- and potentially sleepless -- flight. That's why it often helps to regard the first day of a business trip as a settling in day of sorts, rather than line up critical meetings or book yourself solid. Also, don't forget that sometimes flights get delayed, luggage gets lost, or other travel-related hiccups occur that might throw off your initial game plan. Better to allow for these setbacks and aim for an ultra-productive second day of your trip.

4. Don't overbook yourself

If you're in a new city for work purposes that's hard to get to (say, flights are limited, or it's very far away), it's natural to want to cram in a lot of activity during your trip. But if you overschedule yourself, you might quickly get thrown off your game. Also, you never know what opportunities might arise once you're in the midst of a business trip, so don't make the mistake of arriving at your destination with every possible daytime hour already accounted for. Leave some wiggle room in your schedule in case meetings run long, or you're introduced to new contacts it pays to sit down with.

5. Take some time to enjoy your surroundings

The purpose of a business trip is indeed to work, so don't be disappointed if there's not much time to explore the area. However, if you plan things out in advance, you might manage to find small ways to experience the local culture or sneak in a few extra sights. Get up early one morning and walk to your meetings rather than zoom over in a cab, or see about extending your trip one extra day (on your own dime, of course) to give you a little tourist time. If you're visiting a city you're unlikely to land in again for many years, you don't want to miss the opportunity to experience it on a basic level.

Though traveling for work purposes can be taxing and tiring, it can also be an enjoyable experience that works wonders for your career. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you'll come away from your next trip feeling fulfilled on both a professional and personal level.

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