I am sure there are a lot of people who might have traveled far more than me and have much more business trips under their belt, but it would probably be helpful to share some little things I have noticed, experienced and figured out during mine.
1. Take care of sleeping
Believe it or not, I fell asleep once in the car while I had to translate. Embarrassing, but true my friends. Frankly, I feel sooo sleepy right after landing in the destination, especially if we have the whole day in front of us. I feel asleep while driving by car from place to place. That is why early morning flight should be avoided when you can, so you get to sleep as usual and then fly. Also, it is very important to find at least one hour to rest or nap in the afternoon, it makes a whole difference. I am not talking about the evening, because most of the time I found myself laying dead asleep in two minutes. It helps if you finish with your phone (good night sms-es/alarm clock for tomorrow/notes) as soon as you can, stay away from laptops and if you still can not sleep grab a book or magazine.
2. The right camera
I love having my big digital camera, but honestly it is such a problem when moving around, in meetings, in cars, while walking and while having a hundred stuff to carry around like I usually do. Phone cameras are a good solution but I feel a little bit sad when I only have that option, so I usually take a simple small camera that can fit in my pocket or bag wherever I go. Just be sure to take a couple of extra memory cards and spare battery because they love to abandon you when you most need them.
3. Early morning
Whatever the place you are staying in is, there will be something interesting about it. If you wake up a little bit earlier in the morning, beside your personal pleasures like reading the newspaper or exercising, you can pay a little bit attention to the space around you, enjoy a terrace or garden if available and my favorite one, explore the breakfast buffet. If you are in a rush you will start your day with zero excitement and nothing to look forward to in the evening or the next morning.
4. Shopping limit
Usually business trips have full days packed with meetings and travel, so you have to squeeze shopping time in limited time segments, or worse again before flying home. At first I was doubting I would manage to buy anything in a few hours, but when I had one hour sharp to get in and out of Zara, I sure made my feet and hands move fast. You don't want to know how much I spent, but that remains my record until now. This is not the example I want to show you. On the contrary, before your trip or at least the night before shopping take your time to make a list of what you need to buy for yourself and what presents to get for your loved ones. Knowing where to focus is essential when you are facing ten shops and a tic-tac-ing clock. And who knows, you might even get away with spending less then you had thought. Now, in case you have no budget or time at all to indulge yourself to new items, just grab some chocolate and snacks, a few magazines or books at a shop or at the airport.
5. Get closer to nature
Either by taking a walk, paying attention outside of the window if you are riding a car/bus/train, or simply peeking out of the windows/balconies of your hotel you can feel closer to the country's nature. For me, taste, smells and air are very strong memories and the more you gather, the more you will remember this trip. Look at the flora, the variety of trees and flowers, the fields, the mountains, the lake, the sea, the hills and the leaves. There is something revitalizing and refreshing about keeping in touch with nature, so don't neglect it.
6. Sneak peak into architecture
For sure you can not visit every sight in the city in a short trip, but that does not stop you from observing, noticing and taking notes. Look at the buildings, distinguish any architectural style that is random, write down interesting buildings or parts of the city that you would like to know better if you pay a second visit to the particular place. Oh man, look at those buildings' details. You sure may smile when passing by them but you can not possibly glance at every window or swan over every little charming detail because chances are you might be engaged in a conversation, walking fast or just focused on taking pictures. Snap a lot of them, no matter if they come up blurry to help refresh your memory when back home dreaming of the city and its secrets.
7. The extra curricular activities
Always ask for the extra things you might have the chance to enjoy, like the use of sauna, jacuzzi, garden, pool, field trips, bike rentals, mini guides, eat and drink suggestions, massages and the list goes on and on...You will be surprised at how much little things are there to make our days brighter and the evening sore feet less painful. In my last trip I could not rent a four wheel motorcycle staying at the front of the hotel (obviously), but I made all my effort to end the dinner sooner and jump into the pool for half an hour before it got closed. The second time around in the same charming hotel, I was strolling around more easily, enjoying every corner I could for a few seconds. This way I was feeling a bit like a tourist and not like "all work and no fun".
8. Hug your room
No matter what hotel you are in and what room category you have. There is something familiar and something cute about each room (somehow this is true) and you better find those two (or more) elements the sooner the better. To make the place feel more like home or more like you, have a small nice smelling candle in your luggage (I love vanilla), your favorite soap (Dove forever) and something you have left half read by the bed. Whenever you have the chance, skip eating out or in the the hotel's restaurant and order food in your room. Furthermore, if possible go downstairs and create a plate by yourself (choose cheeses, ham, fruits, desert and juice or wine), or simply order in a sandwich or local snack/meal.
This is my favorite tip. I try to have a certain empty pocket in my bag (or usually my entire bag) to carefree toss tickets, bills, ads, fliers, sugar bags, stickers, plastic coffee spoons, clothing tags, small flowers or leaves and everything you can imagine. Even if I have no time or possibility to enjoy a few hours for myself, I can always go home and puzzle up the memories from the traveling days. When I feel extra crafty and inspired I put everything into a notebook like a minimalistic scrapbook, but the stuff from my last trip are still tossed in a plastic zipped bag. Still better than nothing though, I can always go back to them without worrying if they belong to the same trip or not.
10. All wide open
No, eyes wide open are not enough. You need all your senses to the maximum. Beside of rocking your business meetings and closing deals with success, you can use your abilities and chances to experience everything to the maximum. Look around, check out the people, see how they talk, eat, drink, laugh, high five, cross the street. Sit down in a caffee by yourself and take mental notes of everything going on around you. Don't forget to smell the air, laugh at funny things and let go small stuff. This is a trip, this is a new country, you are in a new city so all you have to do is to build as much bright memories as you can.