I love to travel. One of the perks of running my own business: I have to log more miles to attend meetings or give a speech than I otherwise would. Along the way, I’ve learned some travel hacks. While learning how to painlessly move through TSA or eat healthy on the road have made business travel much easier, nothing has beat my calendar.
That’s right! I’m the person who takes my calendar with me everywhere — although online calendars have made this easier. In fact, I love my calendar so much I even started my own calendar app company. With it, I’ve found my own method of madness when it comes to business travel.
Remind yourself of important dates
I color-code or highlight important dates on my monthly calendar. This could be for deadlines, speeches or the days I’m traveling. Let’s say I’m delivering a speech on March 10. I’ll color code that date in red. This way I won’t schedule anything else for that day. I also won’t make any plans the day before or after since I’ll probably be traveling. More importantly, when I block out this time it gives me a chance to think, prepare and practice my speech.
Leverage ‘before and after’ time blocking
Keep time open before and after your trip. You probably have a million things to do before take off. To make sure all of my last-minute tasks are done, I take off work the day before. I also take off the day I return. This way I can unpack, decompress and ease my way back into the daily grind. That’s not to say I won’t respond to emails or phone calls. It just means that I leave my schedule as open as possible.
Account for ‘buffer’ travel time
It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to travel. For example, if you’ve been to Denver, then you know it takes at least 30 minutes to go get downtown from the airport. As such, it wouldn’t make sense to plan a meeting at 4 p.m. if your flight arrives at 3:30 p.m.
The same is true when going from your hotel to a meeting or from a conference to a restaurant. Unless you planned in advance, you might have to travel across time. The last thing you want is to show up late to a dinner meeting with a potential client.
That’s why I schedule buffer and travel time in my calendar. If I have an appointment at 6 p.m., I put in my calendar that it’s at 5 p.m. This gives me plenty of time to get to the appointment on time. It also gives me a chance to collect my thoughts and get prepared.
Prevent time zone mistakes
I’m sure I’m not only one who has made a time-zone mistake. There have been a handful of times when I called into a conference call late because I forgot about the time zone difference. While most online calendars and scheduling tools take this into consideration, always make a note in your calendar.
Use a travel itinerary app
Google Calendar and iCalendar both do a pretty solid job of putting together an itinerary. I can view my monthly calendar to see the dates I’m flying, checking-in out of a hotel or speaking. I even create reminders on my phone. But apps like Tripit do all the legwork for me. Forward your emails and the app automatically generates your master itinerary. This keeps all of my plans in one convenient location.
Keep others updated
Sharing your travel calendar lets clients, colleagues and family know when you’ll be out of town. If you’re meeting them, then they’ll know when to expect you and when you’ll be free to meet.
When it comes to family, they obviously want to be in the loop. It’s only fair for them to know when you’re leaving and when you’ll return. That won’t just keep your family happy, it will also save you a significant amount of time.
John Rampton is the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Calendar, a company helping your calendar be much more productive. Connect with @johnrampton on Twitter.
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