Traveling with your Boss

Consider this when traveling with your boss

So I am working on a new trial and I’ve been on 10+ trips in the last month accompanying my boss.  We’ve been traveling domestically and initiating our study sites.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know my boss outside of the office and we’ve had some memorable trips and met up with some excellent clinical staff and Principal Investigators.  I was not terribly nervous to go on the road with my boss but I did spend a little time thinking about how to prepare for each trip so we would have the best travel experience possible.  Here are some things that I considered when preparing for and completing my trips.

Be on time

Obviously don’t miss your flight but also if it is an overnight trip then get to the appointed meeting place early.  If you are in a rush or flustered you aren’t going to look your best in front of your boss.  It is rude to be late to the study site; don’t let this happen.

Pack properly

You will feel more at ease if you are organized and prepared.  You want a small bag, not a huge clumsy suitcase.  When you go through security at the airport you want to look like a pro.  Have your baggy of liquids and your laptop easily accessible so you can run them through the scanner. Don’t forget your laptop power supply and phone charger.  Here are a few other must-haves to pack in your carry on:
  • Travel confirmations
  • printed directions to the hotel and to the site
  • GPS (program the hotel and site in before your trip)
  • phone numbers for study site and home office
  • have cash (this saved me and avoided an awkward situation on a $65 cab fare when the credit card machine was broken)

Dress well

Wear smart shoes that you can easily slip on and off at airport security.  Ensure that your outfit doesn’t inhibit you at the airport or the site (painful shoes, improperly hemmed pants, etc).  Be comfortable and dress appropriately.

Stay busy and productive

More specifically, stay busy doing something work related (no, not solitaire).  For example, on the plane my boss dozed while I studied the Investigator Brochure, listened to podcasts about the therapeutic area, updated forms, edited the Site Initiation slide deck, reviewed Informed Consent Form templates, etc.  I suspect my boss found this more professional than if I were reading Us Weekly or watching sitcoms on my laptop. When we landed I checked my email and made quick site contact calls as we rode the shuttle bus.


At dinner you will need to limit the drinks, choose topics of conversation that are light and pleasant, and keep the jokes tasteful. Don’t bad mouth previous employers or co-workers. Your boss can dish on anyone they want but you should be very careful to avoid gossiping.  You can be human and talk about kids, dogs, sports, etc, but if something is off-limits to discuss in the office assume it is not the best topic on the business trip, either.
A single glass of sangria may be acceptable but a pitcher of sangria is probably a no no in front of the big boss.

Don’t stress out

I was going to say relax but I want to be clear that you are being evaluated.  Your boss is going to observe your behavior on the trip and you need to remain professional even if the days run long.  You can still be happy and have fun but remember to stay poised.
Traveling with your boss is a great opportunity.  Prepare for your trip and pay attention to your behavior on the trip.  If you make an error, correct it and don’t repeat the mistake. Your boss isn’t expecting perfection but will absolutely notice if you are disorganized, improvident, or obnoxious.  Have a great trip!

Check out one of my favorite blogs, Road Warriorette’s take on this same topic: Traveling with your Boss

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About The Author

The Lead CRA

Nadia started The Lead CRA blog in 2007. She is now lead author for ClinOps Toolkit. Nadia is currently working as a Clinical Program Manager at a small specialty pharmaceutical company in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can reach Nadia via email at [email protected] anytime.

1 Comment

  • mandy

    November 8, 2010

    I wish I had these tips when I went on my first business trip with my boss.

    I was going to Houston for an overnight trip. I packed my huge suitcase because I’m a girl and I always change my mind about what I’m going to wear. My boss just had a carry on and he rolled his eyes when he had to wait for my HUGE bag to go through the carousel.

    I do have to give myself kuddos because I brought my GPS because the mapquest map my boss printed off was wrong!

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