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.
2. Blend in with your surroundings. Once you’ve done your research, you can start your visit to a new destination as if you were one of the locals. This is not only sound exploration advice, but a good safety tip as well. You’ll make yourself more vulnerable to con artists if you stick out like a sore thumb with your massive backpack, two cameras and confused look on your face. and you will draw much less attention if you make an effort to blend in. You also don’t want to disrespect or offend with improper dress or manners. If you’re visiting places of worship, make sure to dress modestly in order to prevent upsetting the locals.
Sitting in an airplane seat is hard on your body. If you're not moving and stretching at regular intervals in-flight, you're putting yourself at risk. Opt to remain in your seat for hours at a time and you'll likely arrive with the aches and pains of tight muscles. More seriously, people who sit still for long periods have a higher likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which a blood clot forms, usually in the leg.
Save time packing by keeping a carry-on suitcase packed with the minimal amount of clothing, shoes and accessories you need, including 3-ounce toiletries in a Ziploc bag. Trade bulky laptops for thinner laptops and tablets such as a MacBook Air or an iPad. Replace hardcovers with eBooks. If you must bring a coat or bulky shoes, wear them on the plane to avoid taking up space in your luggage.
Buy a sectioned vinyl pocket folder, preferably 6 to 10 pockets, and subdivide information. Pocket 1 holds travel info like ticket information, boarding passes and car/hotel reservations. Pocket 2 might be things to do or see at your destination. Pockets 3-6 might be work to do on the plane subdivided into different projects. One pocket could hold some fun things like a word search puzzle, my favorite.
This is why the group tours are popular, why people see things like "seven countries in 12 days" and think that that's a good thing. This is your big overseas trip and you want to see as much as possible – you want to tick as many boxes as you physically can. But that's a mistake. You have to trust that you'll travel again. Instead of trying to see everywhere at once, slow down, get to know one country, or maybe two, and your appetite will be whetted for a lifetime of similar adventures.
Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at patrick.gray@prevoyancegroup.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.
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