Furthermore, if you're in a higher-risk situation—if, say, your medical insurance doesn't cover you abroad or you're heading to the Caribbean during hurricane season—travel insurance might be a smart purchase. Otherwise, maybe you're better off pocketing the extra hundred dollars or so and taking your chances on the road. To learn more, read Travel Insurance 101: What to Know Before You Buy.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a well-packed carry-on. At least it should… if you want your trip to go smoothly from the get-go. Whether you're travelling for business or pleasure, the proper luggage allows you to pack all the things you need and organize them efficiently. If you plan ahead and anticipate your needs during your travels, you can best choose both the type and amount of clothing, personal care products and other items you'll require. The temptation to over pack is always there, but beware that those extra shoes, bottles of lotion and electronic toys could cost you a bundle in excess baggage fees.
From a health perspective filters can remove Giardia and Cryptosporidium from untreated or contaminated water and other bugs which can cause nasty gastrointestinal diseases. And then there's the plastic – you can reduce the amount of plastic (between 8 and 12 million tons a year!) that ends up in the ocean. Finally, my filter water bottle saves me on average US$425 a year on buying bottled water. Now, why wouldn’t you want that?
One aspect of business travel that we’ve all just learned to live with is managing spending. You pay for food and other expenses, save your receipts—usually in a messy pile—then fill in a painful expense report at some time in the six months after your trip, when you’ve forgotten what all that spending was for. If you used a company card, you have to hope you made no mistakes. If you used your own money, you’re hoping the company reimburses the whole lot.
“For those trying to pack light, it’s difficult to choose worse items than bottled liquids (and gels, and aerosols). They are heavy, bulky, prone to leakage (especially on airplanes), and a security concern. And with but a little forethought, the vast majority of them can be eliminated entirely. From shampoo/conditioner to toothpaste, from sunscreen to insect repellent, from facial cleanser, foundation, and moisturizer to mascara, bronzer, and face mask, even exfoliants and perfumes, all come in solid versions that will save you weight, space, hassle, and the environmental cost of excess packaging.”
I make the most of my out-of-touch time on the plane, in transit, or in a hotel. Instead of being a slave to email, I prepare a list of phone calls I need to make and download PDFs of documents I need to read to my iPad, so that I can work easily in the airport and on the flight. I make sure to email myself source documents and open/save them before I get on the plane, so that I can edit or write in-flight.
It’s not easy jumping right into work after a long-haul flight, typically with a connection or two, and seated in the economy. This is exactly why I try to take a late flight out on Friday nights — after the end of the workday — that arrives sometime on Saturday. Having the full day on Sunday to get acclimated and refreshed from the flight is critical in beating jet lag as quickly as possible, and helps you get into a groove, so you’re ready to roll on Monday.
Prepare a digital backup in case your identification gets lost or stolen. With your camera phone, take a photo of your passport or driver's license and email the photo to yourself. You might also want to take a photo of the contents of your checked bag, which may come in handy if the airline loses your luggage. (Use the photo to help document your missing belongings when filling out a claim form.) Throughout your trip, take advantage of the camera on your phone and snap photos of anything that might serve as a helpful reminder, from your airport parking-lot spot to your hotel-room number.
TripAdvisor is fine when you need opening hours or an address, but when it comes to reviews I ignore it completely. People always leave a negative review when something bad happens but rarely leave a positive review when something good happens so the reviews tend to be skewed. On top of that, it’s very easy to create fake reviews and make a place seem better than it is. Many hotels and restaurants hire firms to artificially inflate their reviews on the platform. Additionally, TripAdvisor has been known to take down reviews that are overly negative as well reviews on sexual assualt. Use TripAdvisor with caution. Or better yet, don’t use it at all.
That said, however, there are scammers out there, and it's the naive rookie travellers that provide their easiest targets. I was scammed the first time I travelled. And the second time. And the third time. There's no easy way around this – you're often dealing with pros who've been doing this their entire lives. Just roll with the punches and try not to part with too much cash. (Read: Ten classic travel scams)
If you pack light in a carry-on bag, you are able to be more flexible and mobile in your travels. Make sure that your clothes can all do double duty for you. Your sleepwear can double as work-out or lounging clothes. Your pants are resilient from stains and wrinkles. Your tops are quick dry and you stay with one color scheme, so everything in every season fits in one small bag!
We’ve all experienced hotel letdown. You arrive at what you thought would be a majestic place to stay, only to be assigned a corner room on the first floor, with a view of the parking lot and the faint scent of cigarettes in the air. Pro tip: This is why you should pretty much ALWAYS ask to switch hotel rooms after seeing the first one you’re offered. Oftentimes, the second room you’re assigned (or third, or fourth if you’re the daring sort) is much, much better than the first. All it takes is a gentle inquiry to land something spectacular, even when it’s not what the front desk initially prescribed.
When you travel, you’re in the sun more than most people thanks to months of island hopping and beach time, and entire days spent outside exploring. Wear sunscreen every single day, regardless of the weather and temperature, because you really don’t want your trip of a lifetime to result in skin cancer. Plus, it prevents premature ageing! I wear sunscreen every day, even in the middle of winter.
Everyone knows that jet lag feeling: You’re groggy at dinner, but unable to sleep at night; you can’t muster hunger at socially appropriate times and even your digestive system doesn’t seem to cooperate. And some studies have linked chronic jet lag (jumping time zones on at least a weekly basis) to increased risk of some cancers and quicker cognitive decline. In other words? It’s time to get with the (local) program fast.
Hotels & Motels: Hotels and motels are the tried-and-true standard for most vacations—providing a safe, clean, and comfortable place to go to sleep at night. They’re important here. Remember, California invented the motel back in the 1920s. Top chains are well represented statewide, and are often located in larger metropolitan areas and near tourist attractions and travel routes. Boutique hotels tend to offer a more intimate and luxuriously stylish environment for travelers. In more rural areas, consider independently owned lodgings, some in historic buildings.
In countries that have seen the worst side of British colonialism or been on the wrong side of our many wars, you will often find the older people to be quite nervous of westerners. But strike up a conversation with the someone from the younger generation and you’ll often find people who want to share their love for their country with you, and are genuinely interested in learning about yours.
Making sure that you don’t lose good business opportunities any time you are traveling is key. While in Nepal, I had to rely on a local coffee shop for a decent connection, as the wi-fi at my hotel was practically not working. It was annoying. I wish I had listened to those who had suggested how to prepare for business trips and said to take a portable wifi device.
No matter where I’m traveling, I like to maximize my business trips by scheduling time for what I like to call the big three — existing client visits, new business meetings and professional development opportunities. Before heading out, think about which contacts are based in that area and plan to host a dinner or grab a quick coffee with them. These face-to-face meetings go a long way in maintaining relationships with existing clientele as well as forming connections with potential business partners. To maximize your time out of office, look into any additional conventions or meet-ups you can attend to either strengthen your skill set or learn something new. Being in a foreign learning environment can also be fantastic for networking. If you seek out opportunities in these big three areas, no minute will be wasted.
“I only pack clothes that are versatile and my best example of this is my brown leather boots that I can wear for a full day of hiking and out to dinner the same day. Recently I wore them dune bashing in Dubai and then to dinner at the Burj al Arab. The clothes you pack also need to have great wearability. Clothing that can only be worn once before a wash is a waste of space. I like merino wool shirts and socks from Icebreaker and Smart Wool. These can be worn days on end without needing to be washed and they seem to never smell.”
Are drinks free in business class? Normally, yes. There are certain Middle East airlines that don’t serve alcohol at all. But generally, drinks are free in business class, even on domestic flights. One of the best business class perks is the Champagne before take off. It always makes me feel so glamorous. Business class drinks are often of a higher quality than in economy, both for liquor and for wine.
Before you decide to visit anywhere out of season, it’s important to do some research. Many destinations in Asia have dry and rainy seasons, but overall the rainy seasons aren’t too bad – with just a few hours of rain a day. If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t be put off by visiting out of season. If there are other reasons, you’ll need to weigh up whether it’s worth saving money to visit at this time. As long as you’re happy going out of season then you’ll have the added bonus of fewer tourists too – so it really is a win-win situation!
There’s a good chance you won’t get “walked” yourself (hotels don’t want to offend a guest whose company regularly sends business their way), but here are a few tips to avoid the situation anyhow: First, if your itinerary allows, stay at the hotel for more than one night since those who will be there for less than 24 hours are more likely to be turned away.
You know the socks you often get on overseas flights? The ones that don't fit quite right and come with weird treads that make them impossible to wear with shoes? Give them new purpose by keeping a pair on hand to protect items from getting chipped or scratched in transit. They're the perfect size to hold the trinkets you pick up on your travels—the ones that don't need to be enveloped in bubble wrap but do need a bit of extra protection before being tossed into your bag. And in a pinch, they can serve as a handy alternative to a glasses case in your bag or purse.