Not all remote professionals work from home 100% of the time. In fact, among all telecommute jobs added to the Virtual Vocations database during 2017, 27.24% were remote job openings that required at least some degree of field travel. If you are a telecommuter who is frequently on the move, Virtual Vocations has essential tips for making your working life more efficient and less stressful.
5 Essential Tips for Telecommuters Who Travel for Work
Travel for business is steadily on the rise. With 514.2 million trips taken for work in 2016, it is clear U.S. professionals are spending more and more time away from home. Business travel composes a sizable portion of all travel spending both in the U.S. economy and worldwide. The demographics and habits of business travelers impact business practices in a variety of fields, such as tourism, hospitality, and transportation. Business travelers are helping to shape the future of the sharing economy as well, as many frequent commuters need more convenient options for lodging, dining, shopping, and more.
According to research conducted by premier travel booking experts at Concur, the most active business travelers took over 140 flights in 2015. That is a significant amount of frequent travel miles, and a large responsibility to maintain performance under the added pressure of constantly shifting between locations.
Whether your travel frequency falls in the top one percent, or you only go out of town once or twice per month, travel can take a physical, emotional, and economic toll on your work performance over time. On the other hand, if expenses, health, and work responsibilities are managed efficiently, business travel can be a rewarding portion of your work life.
When determining the best approach to managing professional travel, it is important to take into account the type of work arrangement you have with your employer. For instance, an independent contractor will navigate business travel differently than a full-time employee.
Similarly, a remote professional who manages several teams will implement a different travel strategy than a telecommuter who works independently. Before deciding on your regular travel procedures, identify the unique factors of your position within your organization or client relationship.
It is important to have a solid travel plan, however, no plan is impenetrable. The same level of adaptability you have cultivated as a remote worker will be necessary when traveling.
1. Understand Industry Travel Norms
The industry in which you work will also determine how you travel, where you stay and the expenses you incur.
Management and consulting positions particularly in finance and operations involve a high density of travel and usually involve frequent meetings with clients or business partners to maintain multiple project timelines. Project management is a hectic role that requires intense attention to detail and organization, even when travel is not involved. When you must add frequent out-of-town meetings to your roster of responsibility it is imperative that you establish good work relationships with colleagues in the various locations to which you travel.
A unique aspect of management and consulting positions is that you will likely be traveling to the same three to six locations. This is an advantage, as over time you can become familiar with your locations and develop place-based routines that reduce the impacts of jet-lag and other travel-induced stresses.
Event planning is an excellent industry for people with an eye for design and a wide and actively engaged social network. If you are an experienced event planner you can expect to get proposals to work from across the country and possibly across the globe. At the management level, event planning requires you to oversee the financial, entertainment, media and decorations of an event.
You may work independently or oversee a team of professionals. Often, travel for this position will not be to the same destination and will involve significant research during each trip to determine the best option for lodging, where to eat at odd hours and how to manage to dry-clean on short notice.
Media and journalism are also fields where travel is highly spontaneous. If you work for a state or national publication, you may be needed to cover a story in one destination on Monday and find yourself across the country by Thursday. The pace at which travel and work are required in media roles make these positions very demanding. Your success when traveling as a journalist will be based on your ability to communicate frequently and utilize technology to its utmost advantage.
2. Stay on Top of Travel Expense Reporting
One aspect of travel that all professionals share is the dreaded expense report. Although the process to submit expenses to your business, or document expenses as a contractor may seem daunting, with the right system, you can relieve yourself from this particular travel anxiety and budget more accurately for each trip.
The number one best practice for expense reporting is to be sure you fully understand your company’s travel expense policy if you are an employee. Some companies provide a yearly travel stipend, whereas others provide reimbursement. Both options will require drastically different approaches to reporting and budgeting for business trips.
Some businesses will allow you to expense a specific percentage of entertainment expenses, if the activities in question occurred with a business prospect, or within a business meeting. Other companies require detailed mileage information for ride-share services such as Uber, while others will accept receipts for your trips. It is your responsibility to stay up on any changes to the company policy as well. It is a good idea to have a reliable point of contact for any expense related questions. This will usually be someone within your businesses HR or administrative department.
If you are a freelancer or contractor, this does not absolve you from keeping detailed expense records, as you will need them for tax purposes. Be sure you understand what counts as a business expense. For frequent travelers, it is advisable to seek professional assistance in the form of a CPA to help you manage your financial life as a mobile freelancer.
Whether you are an employee or a contractor, you should keep all physical receipts. These documents are easy to lose track of, particularly if you travel multiple times per week. It is best to store them in a water-proof container, preferably something that has several slots to divide your receipts into categories such as transportation, meals, tips, and lodging.
In terms of planning your expenses, it is best to develop a long-term strategy for your travel throughout the year. Even if you are not sure exactly where or when you will travel. If you have been in your current position for a few years, you can use previous experiences to determine how much you will spend, where you can cut expenses or try a new service to reduce spending or save time.
When it comes to saving on travel expenses, how you book your flights and when can have a significant impact on how much you spend per year. Try booking your flights in advance for the best rates, in fact, the earlier you can book, especially for international flights, the better it will be on your budget. It is advisable to invest in an insurance policy for your flight, particularly for business travel because unexpected events such as a new project timeline can frequently disrupt your travel plans.
3. Insurance Is a Must for Business Travelers
Travelers’ insurance is an invaluable product that is well worth the monthly or yearly expense. The coverage you require will depend on where you travel. If you mostly travel within the U.S. you should consider insurance that protects you against lost luggage, a missed connection, and stolen valuables. However, if you frequently travel internationally, invest in more comprehensive coverage that will cover the costs of medical services and extended delays in travel plans.
4. Invest in Travel-Friendly Services
As mentioned above, the sharing economy has blossomed with options that are attractive to many frequent travelers. A recent study shows that millennials are traveling more than their GenX and Babyboomer counterparts and their travel habits reflect this shift in demographics. Regardless of your age, you can benefit from the many businesses that have responded to the demand for convenience by enrolling in travel-friendly services.
Airbnb is an excellent way to book travel quickly and inexpensively. Many listings cater to business travelers and provide necessities such as high-speed internet, printing capabilities, and even a light breakfast. Conversely, if you travel for extended periods, leaving your home unoccupied, consider renting out your space to make some extra income. Airbnb offers travelers the option to switch between provider and traveler profiles so you can manage your listings while booking your next temporary home with a few simple swipes.
Another valuable service to consider is telemedicine. Telemedicine is a convenient option to get over-the-phone medical help when you are feeling under the weather. Services use certified nurse practitioners who can oftentimes prescribe medications, give medical advice or suggest you seek in-person medical attention.
When you travel for long periods, you can also take advantage of services that deliver meal ingredients, groceries or prepared meals, to eat healthy while you travel without the hassle of navigating a new dining scene. There are a variety of companies that provide quick, reliable food delivery that does not fall into the fast food category. Travelers can often experience a decline in health due to eating habits. End the cycle of poor food choices by investigating the fresh food and grocery delivery options in on your next business trip.
5. Prioritize Wellness While Traveling
Maintaining mental and emotional wellness is just as important as maintaining your physical health while you travel. No matter how hectic your schedule gets, taking time to reflect, journal, exercise or meditate can boost your energy level and reduce the adverse effects of frequent travel. Pay attention to your body and state of mind while you commute. If you are having a particularly difficult week, schedule time to take a walk or talk to a friend back home. Mindfulness takes practice, as you attend to your emotional state it becomes easier to identify the cause of frustration and stress.
The World Is Your Oyster
Many remote workers crave adventure and traveling is one of the best ways to experience new and exciting aspects of our world. The ability to travel can be a prized perk of any job if you employ the above tips to keep yourself centered, organized, and aware of all your travel options.
If you are looking for a new remote position that will afford you the option to travel, Virtual Vocations has an ever-growing database containing thousands of partial telecommuting positions for you to explore. Get started today!
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