An employee seldom has to worry about interacting with the boss outside the office. Most often, if you travel, you’re doing it alone. If you do travel together, it’s probably just to nearby meetings in the same car. However, for some professionals, work trips mean days of quality time with the very person they want to impress most.
As stressful as such trips can be, though, they also provide a helpful career opportunity. When professionals travel together, they spend hours in each other’s company, sharing meals, waiting in airports or enduring long trips by car. As a result, employees usually find that they can gain an advantage, getting to know their bosses in a way they wouldn’t have in the office.
If you’re facing an upcoming business trip with your boss, it’s important to make the most of the situation. Here are a few things you should do while you’re on the road.
1. Bring your 'A Game'
Whether you’ve worked with your boss for a week or a decade, a business trip provides an opportunity to make a good impression. Unlike the day-to-day work you do in a regular workweek, a trip let’s you showcase your skills to your boss. Before the trip, prepare an itinerary and make sure you have all the documents you need for any presentation or meeting. Keep everything organized in a sharable service like Google Docs and make sure your boss can easily access it at all times.
2. Moderate alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption is an inevitable part of any business trip. Even if your boss isn’t a drinker, you may find that clients order a drink, putting pressure on you and your boss to fit in. In this area, try to take your boss’s lead. If your boss seems okay with drinking, order one drink and nurse it over the course of the evening to avoid overconsumption. Maybe order a second if your boss has as well. By stretching your drinking out over an hour or more, you’ll avoid the clouded thinking that comes with intoxication.
When you’re waiting for a flight to board, seated on a plane, or hanging out in the hotel lobby until your boss arrives, resist the temptation to take care of personal business. Use the opportunity to get a little more work done, review your itinerary for the day, or respond to work-related email. If your boss sees you’re fully dedicated to the work you’re doing, he or she may think of you first when it’s time for a promotion. If you have an important meeting the next day, do your best to prepare during your downtime the night before so that you show up ready to get started.
Keep it professional
As with any travel companion, your boss will be your primary source of conversation during the trip. Over time, it's natural to let down your guard and become more open. Even if the trip makes it temporarily seem as though your boss is your peer, it’s important to never lose sight of the fact that you’re speaking to your hierarchial superior. Avoid gossiping about coworkers, inappropriate personal discussion or anything that could lead your boss to see you in a lesser light.
It can be difficult to pack for a business trip, especially when your boss is traveling with you. Keep your luggage to a minimum by mastering the art of packing like a seasoned business traveler. Bring clothes you can wear more than once, mixing and matching to make your outfit look similar, but still different than it did the day before. Make sure you have clothes to cover every planned meeting, as well as a surprise event or two that might require professional attire.
Traveling with a boss can be daunting, but with careful preparation, you can make it a success. You may later find that the business trip you took made a big difference in the trajectory of your career. Although these trips may feel like even the slightest mistake could hurt you, chances are your boss won’t notice a few small slip-ups, as long as you demonstrate how dedicated you are to the work you do.