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3 Reasons to Sign up for More Business Trips

Business trips may not be as glamorous as you imagine, but they offer a great chance to network with colleagues and vendors from other areas and to help you develop some critical skills. Read on and you’ll be signing up for the next business trip before you finish this post!

The impact of business trips on professional development

Business trips are on the rise, especially among Millenials. While most people take 6.8 business trips a year, Millenials take 7.4 trips and plan to increase their travels. This is according to a study conducted in 2016 by MMGY Global among 1,007 U.S. residents who took at least one domestic or international business trip in the previous 12 months.

What’s driving the desire to travel more for work? For some, it’s the perception that business trips are just an all-expense paid trip for a couple of meetings, leaving ample time for sightseeing. The reality, however, is that most business trips are filled with meetings leaving you with little personal time. But the true value of a business trip goes beyond the immediate perks and it’s much longer lasting than a day tour of the city you are visiting.

Business trips increase cultural intelligence

Business trips increase cultural intelligence

1Business trips help to increase your cultural intelligence, particularly international ones

Cultural intelligence means having the ability to recognize and respond to cultural diversity and to make better decisions based on that understanding. My experience in traveling globally and domestically for work has raised my cultural intelligence and ability to connect with people. It will do the same for you, regardless of the number of trips you take each year.

Think about the business trips you have taken and make a note of what you recall were the differences and similarities of the intercultural exchange. Keep in mind intercultural exchange does not only happen when you travel abroad. It also applies to when you travel domestically. It’s very likely that the vibe, energy and culture of your office in LA is very different than the ones in your office in Dallas or New York.

Possessing cultural intelligence today is more important than ever as globalization has made companies more complex and competitive. So make the most out of your business trips by increasing your cultural EQ. Employees who have a high level of cultural intelligence play an important role in bridging divides and knowledge gaps in an organization: educating their peers about different cultures.

Taking a business trip on your own can build your confidence.

Taking a business trip on your own can build your confidence.

2Traveling for work will help you breakout of your comfort zone

Business trips will help you break you out of your comfort zone, leading to personal and professional growth. When you travel for work, for the most part you will be traveling alone and navigating through a new city or country on your own. That means, learning to use a public transportation system, figuring out certain customs, perhaps learning a few words in a different language, and a million other little details that have likely become second nature to you at home. Having to manage these new experiences on your own may be hard at first but they’ll make you stronger. So regardless of where you travel or how long the business trip is, the experience will leave you feeling more confident.

On the other hand, you will also be representing your company and team, so you have to present the best version of you. Which means that you’ll do your best not to appear insecure, or tentative in this new environment. Even keeping your composure in a new circumstance will build your character and stretch you out of your comfort zone.

Business trip inspirational quote

Business trip inspirational quote

3Business trips lead to stronger working relationships

Every business trip that I’ve taken has led to improved working relationships with old and new colleagues. It’s an opportunity to nurture relationships with business partners (suppliers, clients, etc.) or colleagues you’re traveling with. It’s a particularly good chance to have some face time with partners with whom you collaborate remotely to fine tune any challenges you’re confronted with when working in different locations.

As you prepare for your business trip set up time to connect with your partners outside of business meetings. For example, schedule coffee, lunch or dinner, if possible. A former boss gave me the best piece of advice, “Teresa, during your next business trip your days need to be spent having face time with local suppliers, insight partners, and marketing partners.” She was completely right and taking her approach helped me establish strong relationships. I still keep in touch with some of the former business partners in other countries and we don’t even work in the same company any more!

Each business trip is an opportunity to gain cultural intelligence, to break out out of your comfort zone and to nurture relationships within your business ecosystem. To make sure you take advantage of all that a business trip has to offer you must do your part. This means, you must go beyond making logistic preparations for your trip and being present at the scheduled meetings. You should go with an open mind, ready to listen to people who might be very different from those in your own office, and seek to learn from everyone you meet.

Women traveling alone: 5 Tips from many years of traveling solo

In the last few years, there’s been a substantial increase of women traveling alone. It’s one of the most empowering experiences you can have. Ready to try it? Don’t miss these tips to make it a successful trip.

“The world is your oyster,” is an often quoted Shakespeare’s phrase. At some point, I’m sure someone said this to you. And if nobody ever did, I’m saying it to you now. The World Is Your Oyster. Yours for the taking. And this is the perfect time to explore that world.

I’ve been traveling solo for many, many years now and I absolutely love it. I recommend it to all my friends and colleagues and some of those who take my advice, become part of this large movement of women traveling alone.

In Amsterdam, while traveling solo doing a home exchange, I visited beautiful tulip fields.

In Amsterdam, while traveling solo doing a home exchange, I visited beautiful tulip fields.

It’s an experience unlike any other because first, you get to decide your destination and the kind of adventure you’d like to have. And then while you’re on the trip, you make every single decision throughout the day. There’s nobody to ask permission to do something you’d love to do. No need to go to places or engage in activities you don’t enjoy. So, you can get up early to join the hot air balloon tour or stay in bed all day.

You can spend the entire day visiting a museum or taking pictures of your favorite locations. You can eat when you want, what you want with whom you want. It’s your trip and you can even cry if you want to.

And if you’re horrified by the idea of making hundreds of decisions every day rather than letting someone else (perhaps your partner) make them for you… then, you my friend, really, really need to try this.

Here's a great read on Lateral Thinking to help you see issues from new perspectives
While traveling solo, I love to visit farmers markets and flower markets. You may find produce you've never seen before!

While traveling solo, I love to visit farmers markets and flower markets. You may find produce you’ve never seen before!

Women traveling alone discover who they are

It’s not an exaggeration to say that women traveling alone discover who they are and what they like. In some cases, even what they want to be when they grow up! Believe me I’ve met a few. It’s such a freeing experience to be on your own when most of the time we tend take care of the needs of others, whether our family, friends or colleagues.

To take a break of it all and go off somewhere alone near or far can be enlightening. And I emphasize near or far because you can have this experience by taking a bus and going one or two hours away from home to a location of your choosing for a short or a long trip. You can decide based on your budget what works best for you right now.

Tip for women traveling alone: Take a boat ride wherever you get a chance. It gives you an entirely different perspective of the place.

Tip for women traveling alone: Take a boat ride wherever you get a chance. It gives you an entirely different perspective of the place.

Some of the things I love to do when traveling solo

  • Staying at my own apartment or renting a bedroom in a woman’s house. I’ve been traveling with Airbnb before it was fashionable to do so. Sometimes I rather stay at someone’s house so I have a hostess who I can interact with and can give me tips of the area. I’ve become close friends with several of them.
  • Doing experiences with Airbnb. So now you can actually sign up to do a lot of things through their website. From learning how to cook, to having your own photo shoot, to visiting galleries with an artist. It’s another great way to meet like-minded people from all over the world, many of whom are precisely women traveling alone.
  • Talking to people who work wherever I go: hotels, restaurants, shops, galleries, taxi drivers. They have the real stories and insights of the place.
  • Starting my visit by seeing the city or town from the highest point, be that a church tower, the top of the highest building or hill. It gives me a great perspective of the lay of the land.
  • Visiting museums one or two hours at a time. I rather return to a museum than stay for a very long time in one.
  • Taking a boat trip whenever there’s water!
  • Discovering local food and learning how to make it. Going back to the same little bistro time and again so it feels like home. Here’s my favorite bistro that makes galettes from Britany in Paris!
  • Finding the best espresso drinks!
  • Learning to use the local public transportation system.
  • Sending postcards to friends and to myself. (Yep, I send postcards to myself from every place I visit so I can read them later and relive the best parts of the trip!)
    Drinking cappuccinos is one of my favorite things to do when traveling solo. I love to enjoy a cup while I write a postcard to a friend.

    Drinking cappuccinos is one of my favorite things to do when traveling solo.

     

    I love to enjoy a cup of espresso while I write a postcard to a friend.

Perhaps you should try a cruise ship with Captain Kate as a starter trip!

For women traveling alone being safe is key to enjoying the experience

Usually a big concern for women traveling alone is safety. And although this is true for anyone traveling solo, I have a few suggestions that work particularly well for my gender peers. Here you go:

1Keep your eyes on the road

This means, avoid being on your phone while you walk. Those who target women traveling alone are experts at pinpointing who’s a tourist, who’s confident, who is inexperienced. So by staying alert and present, you can spot them before they spot you. For this to work, you need to do your homework before you leave your hotel or apartment. Otherwise, when you need to spend a few minutes with your map or notes, just grab a cup of coffee to plan your next stop rather than walking around looking clueless. That way you know as much as possible about your direction, the train you should take, etc.

Tip for women traveling alone: nothing beats walking a town or city to get to know it really well. This is Nyhavn in Copenhagen

Tip for women traveling alone: nothing beats walking a town or city to get to know it really well. This is Nyhavn in Copenhagen.

2Check who’s in front of you

I’ve seen it happen many times. The person intent on robbing me is not behind me but in front. I suddenly realize they walk very slowly and turn their head sideways once in a while. When I stop walking, they stop. That’s my sign to either turn around and go back, look for another person to engage with immediately, or go into a store. You can always test this. If you stop and the person in front of you stops, slows down or pretends to be on the phone to make time until you start walking again, it’s a trap.

Since I discovered galettes (crepes made with buckwheat) I've become obsessed with repeating a particular flavor combination I love! The best place yet? "La petit bretonne" in Paris!

Since I discovered galettes (crepes made with buckwheat) I’ve become obsessed with repeating a particular flavor combination I love! The best place yet? “La petit bretonne” in Paris!

3Distribute your money and valuables

I carry a small, light backpack when I travel solo. In the backpack I’ll put in any accessories I might need. Umbrella, gloves, lipstick, sanitizer, etc. I put anything of value in my front pockets. Money, ID, keys, phone… I always assume that I may get mugged. Look, when you’re a tourist, you will be in areas known for pickpockets. So try to protect yourself as best as you can.

4When in doubt ask a woman

This one may sound obvious but it’s worth keeping in mind. Wherever I go, I ask a million questions a day. For many reasons: I need directions, I want a recommendation for a good place to eat nearby, I’d like to know where I can buy something, you get the point.  But no matter how many times a day I need help, I’ll either go into a store, or I’ll ask a woman in the street. Why? Because it’s less likely that she’ll turn me into a mark when she realizes I’m a tourist.

Keep your eyes on the road. Be present. When traveling solo, it's not only the best way to enjoy the trip but the safest!

Keep your eyes on the road. Be present. When traveling solo, it’s not only the best way to enjoy the trip but the safest!

5Don’t fall for these two (or any others!)

You’re sitting at a bench and someone bends over in front of you. Pretending to pick something off the floor they give you a “gold” ring. “You dropped this,” they say. And you look at the ring and you say, “No, it’s not mine.” So then they try it on and they tell you it doesn’t fit them but they are sure it will fit you, and you should keep it. You try it on, it fits, and you can’t believe your good luck. Until they say: “Well, maybe you could give me an euro,” or a dollar, or whatever. Just get up and leave. It’s an old trick and I did fall for it a while back.

You’re in a touristy area and a person pretending to be deaf and mute approaches you with a paper to sign some kind of petition. It’s a list of people’s names and signatures and you read the title and you think, “What’s the harm?” You sign and then they show you a little corner of the paper where they wrote: “Minimum donation X” and you know you’ve been had. So at that point you can leave.

Or, if you’re a sucker like me, you give them the minimum donation and swear this is the last time they’ll get you. You, a New Yorker raised in Buenos Aires!

There’s no time like today to discover the world and a little bit about yourself in the process. Try it. I promise that traveling solo will put you in touch with a side of you that will amaze you!