Traveling for business can open the door to a multitude of new opportunities, but it can also be difficult and stressful. This is your chance to score a new deal, reinforce an existing relationship, and/or see all the interesting things there are to see in a new country. It's also a process rife with challenges.

Fortunately, once you understand the biggest challenges of traveling for business, you can put together a plan to overcome them.

Major Challenges to Overcome

These are some of the biggest business travel challenges to overcome:

1. Getting the right documentation in order. First, you may struggle to get the proper documentation in order, especially if you're traveling internationally. No matter what, you'll need to have a valid passport for the duration of your travel, issued by your home country. You'll typically also need to have a visa from your destination country. However, the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) may make things easier for you; through the VWP, you can apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) for business online. The process typically takes a matter of minutes and can set you up for international travel approval.

2. Flight delays and overbooking. A flight delay can seemingly ruin an entire business trip. If you have an important meeting the next morning and your flight is delayed several hours, you may have to rush to make the meeting work and you may be unprepared for that meeting. If your flight is overbooked, you may find yourself in a similar predicament. Working with the airline and renegotiating a meeting time are your best bets here.

3. Luggage issues. In any given year, more than 28 million bags are mishandled, and 1.4 million bags are lost by airliners. If you're carrying something sensitive or something important, these statistics should worry you. It's important to keep a close eye on your most valuable possessions while traveling and make use of carry-ons when possible.

4. Uncomfortable accommodations. You may not be the one in charge of booking your accommodations, so you may end up in some uncomfortable positions. You may be stuck on a flight with tight crowding and uncomfortable seats, or you may end up in a hotel that feels shady. There's not much you can do about these in the moment, so it's hard to find a reasonable solution.

5. Illness or injury. What happens if you're injured or if you fall ill during your trip? You may not be able to attend the meeting as originally intended and you'll be uncomfortable in the meantime. Again, this is a matter beyond your control for the most part, so you'll need to find a way to deal with it in the moment and prevent it from happening again.

6. Scheduling. Oftentimes, business travelers book their schedules as tightly as possible to fit in as many activities as possible. This has the potential to be incredibly productive and efficient, but it also adds stress and complication to the experience. Sometimes, it's better to travel for an extra day or two and make sure you have plenty of time to accomplish everything you want to accomplish.

7. Cultural gaps. People in different countries have different business practices, different languages and different cultural customs. A friendly hand gesture in your country may be perceived as a threat or a rude gesture in another country. Common business practices in your country may be deemed totally unacceptable elsewhere. That's why it's important to prepare for the culture you're visiting and to watch your own actions closely.

The 7 Biggest Challenges of Traveling
The 7 Biggest Challenges of Traveling Unsplash

Key Strategies to Minimize Issues

These general strategies can help you avoid or address the majority of business travel challenges:

  • Prepare well in advance. Take your time and prepare as far in advance as possible. Ideally, you'll be planning your business trip months before you actually have to leave. Research everything you can, including local laws and customs, and make sure your accommodations are going to be acceptable.
  • Make use of redundancy. Redundancy can be a lifesaver. For example, if you have an important product to present in person, make sure you bring multiple copies in different pieces of luggage, in case one is lost.
  • Always have a backup plan. Put together a series of backup plans for anything and everything that could go wrong. What if your luggage is lost? What if your flight is overbooked? What if you get sick the day before the big meeting? You don't have to go crazy here, but you should have some idea of how you'd handle each situation.

The more time you spend traveling for business, the more familiar you'll be with the potential issues and the better you'll be at addressing them. Exercise caution in your first few trips and try to be as flexible as possible.