If Hell is other people, then travelling with colleagues can turn into one of Dante’s lesser known Circles (the 10th one, with the weak wall-mounted hairdryer and disappointing minibar. It’s too upsetting for most translations of Inferno). But it doesn’t have to! Some of the Wotif team recently spent three days together in , and we’re still friends (well, most of us). Here’s how we made it work.
1. Make a flight (seating) plan
Depending on your destination, your work trip may well begin and end with a flight. If you’re sitting next to a colleague, that’s where you’ll make your first AND your last impression. And if it’s a long-haul flight, or just at a time when you’re likely to fall asleep, that impression could be “Person whose snores sound like a freight train and drools all over my shoulder”. Yikes! My tip: Check in online and pick your seat strategically. If your co-workers go for window seats, bag one for yourself too. Can’t get stuck next to each other then! Or if they like to sit up the front, make sure you go for a row in the back.
Alternatively, you could just ask where they’re sitting and be upfront about the reason why. They’re probably not looking forward to your dribble fest either.
2. Adjoining rooms
Personal space. It’s a thing. An important thing. If your travel budget won’t stretch to individual rooms, look for a hotel with adjoining or dual-key rooms. They count as a two-bedroom unit, making them cheaper than two separate hotel rooms, but usually have one en suite bathroom per bedroom and a locking door to separate the two living spaces. We stay in two-bedroom dual-key apartments at Mantra PortSea and it’s basically like having our own rooms.
3. Get up early
Okay, hear me out. I’m no morning person, but getting up early gives you time to yourself and a chance to make the most of your hotel and destination. Road test the local coffee spots, do some laps in the hotel pool, or go exploring with your camera and/or selfie stick. The time is yours!
4. Don’t be last on the bus
If you’re travelling to another site for the day, here’s a second perk to getting up early – you won’t be the last person on the shuttle bus. And there are two big reasons you want to avoid that. No.1 – one person running late holds everyone up (including your boss, who probably won’t be impressed). Don’t be that guy. We hate that guy. No.2 – getting on last means getting stuck with whatever seat is left (which may well be next to that now peeved-off boss). Awkward!
Same rules apply after your flight. Don’t waste time in the airport – grab your bag (or save even more time with carry-on only) and make a beeline for your transport. Your reward may well be a sweet, sweet window seat.
5. Keep up your regular routine
It’s easy to fall into bad habits while travelling, especially if you’re flat-out shifting paradigms and blue-sky thinking. But it’s your good habits that keep you happy, healthy, and feeling like yourself. So go for your morning run, do your 6am meditation, or add some extra vegies to your dinner. You’ll feel better for it – I promise.
6. Drink (in moderation)
Work trips are a great opportunity to relax with your colleagues, catch up on workplace goss, and ask the important questions, like who keeps stealing Ash’s lunch (we see you there, Wotif Carrot Thief!). But keep it in moderation, at least for the first night. You do still have *some* work to do.
7. “Check” your emails
Team bonding nights are great, but when one night out turns into two, three, or more in a row, you might find yourself needing a quiet night in (especially if you’re also doing long days of meetings and group sessions). How do you pike out without looking like a jerk? Simple – just say you need to catch up on some emails. It’s a vague but valid excuse that’ll buy you some quality chill time 😉
8. Keep your phone charged
Come happy hour, you’ll need it for blackmail photos.
OK, fine. You shouldn’t blackmail your coworkers. But as basic as it sounds, making sure everyone has a charged phone with everyone else’s number saved in it makes group travel A LOT easier. If you forget your charger, ask reception if they have a spare or check the TV in your room. Most of them have USB connections, so if you’re just missing the power point attachment, you can charge your phone through the telly. Your laptop is another good back-up.
9. Call home
Since your phone is charged, you may as well, hey? It’s not like you miss them or anything. As if you’d want to swap knock-knock jokes with your kid (theirs are lame. Yours are great) or say “I love you” to your partner. You’re not homesick at all…
Seriously, give them a call. A quick chat will reassure you that everyone’s okay and take some of the stress out of your trip. Team drinks can wait.
10. Remember your colleagues’ kids’ names (or fake it)
Speaking of families, your teammates have them too. Shocking, I know – Chad from accounts is actually a fully fledged person, with a life outside your expense reports. But if you’re as useless with names as I am, you’ve got no idea what anyone’s kids, partners, or pets are called, even if you’ve met them dozens of times. My tip: Write the important ones (like those related to your boss or best work buddy) down and come up with a series of affectionate nicknames for the rest. “Hey… uh, you. How are you… mate? How’s the, uh… kiddo?”
11. Treat yo’self
Work trips are – surprise – work! And the long days that come with early flights and networking dinners can be extra exhausting. So make time for a little pampering. We go all-out with spa treatments at Peppers Beach Club (highly recommended), but even a bubble bath and room service (with dessert, of course) can do wonders. Or hit the local shopping strip for some retail therapy. Go on – you’ve earned it.
12. Stay an extra day
You’ve already endured the less-fun parts of travelling (the packing, the morning airport rush, the depressing mid-flight snacks). And you’ve probably worked your butt off to make up for the time out of the office. So why not make the most of your trip by staying for the weekend? Move to a different (read: fancier) hotel if you think some of your teammates have the same idea. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, especially when you’ve been stuck together for days.
13. Have fun!
Attention managers and team leaders–read this. Yes, there’s work to do, but some shared fun time goes a long way in recharging employee batteries and building team camaraderie, which makes for a more engaged, supportive, and hardworking team. Set aside half a day for a local activity or a general crowd-pleaser like bowling or mini golf (or if you work at Wotif, karaoke. We’re demons with mics). You know your people deserve it.Book your next work trip