Want to speed through security? Want the desk clerk to give you a great room? Want the waiter to let you linger over your client lunch? Be nice. It's amazing how much more you can get accomplished on a biz trip if you are simply nice and polite to everyone you meet. Stuck in a line...happily share about your business. If you're enthusiastic, pleasant and open, you can turn line-ups and flights into relaxation time and "gentle touch" networking. A pocket full of biz cards is fine; a smile is better.
In some respects, I’m amazed at how staggeringly little I’ve grown as a traveler: I still roam cities with nary a clue as to what I’m doing, I’m still motivated largely by my quest to stuff as many baked goods into my mouth as possible, I still weep a little when forced to read a map. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t learn anything. I have picked up a few tips and tricks that I’ve gleaned from my many copious mistakes. Here are the best of of them – my my top travel tips and lessons learned from the last few years.
At many hotels, check-in and checkout times are far from set in stone. Loyalty members often get the option of early check-in or late checkout, and sometimes hotels offer the option with certain packages or room types. And if you've got a late flight or just need a home base for a few more hours, it never hurts to call the front desk and ask. Often, the hotel will be happy to oblige.
Some people will want to take advantage of you, but the vast majority of people you meet when you travel are good, decent, and will want to help you. Don’t let bad experiences prevent you from trusting anyone again. As long as you have your wits about you, expect that tuk-tuk drivers or anyone who comes up to you with amazing English and wants to be your best friend for no reason at all is out to scam you, and be most wary of the people in the most touristy places, you’ll be all good.
For an easy and often fun way to get around California’s larger cities and communities, do what an increasing number of locals do and hitch a ride on a bus, subway, ferry, or light rail system. Using public transportation can be an efficient, affordable, safe, and eco-friendly option, particularly in areas where roads, parking, and urban traffic can be confusing and frustrating. Some transit systems let you buy multi-day passes; check ticket options online before you arrive to get the best deals. Two companies, Citypass and Go, also offer deals on local transportation options in San Francisco and Southern California.
Many people view business travel as one of the worst parts of their job. The stress of policy-compliant booking, tight packing, busy airports, and trying to squeeze a Macbook Pro between yourself and the reclined seat ahead of you without spilling a complimentary ginger ale on the snoring man in 16B can surely be overwhelming. It’s a lot to manage on your own.
Long distance, "The next best thing to being there!" I say, "Well, better than nothing anyway." But now, there's a new way of "being there" that I find much more satisfying. SKYPE. Be sure to install Skype on your laptop and use it for video calls home each evening. No built-in camera? You can buy one for as little as $30 if you need to. It is also good for video conference calls back to the office if those are needed (you need the "business" version to conference). I'd highly recommend it.
Sunscreen’s a good idea for situations where you can’t otherwise avoid extended sun exposure, but it’s got its problems too. It enables you to spend unnatural amounts of time exposed to the sun, and unnatural is almost always bad. Plus it blocks your skin from absorbing all the sun’s nutrients. There’s also a debate about whether some of its chemicals are toxic or not—if not to you, at least to the environment. And…
Wherever you are headed, you’re going to have great time! Just make sure you think through your list of activities beforehand so that you’re able to bring everything you need and pick the right luggage. And pack light if you can using this ultimate packing checlist. It always helps with mobility. And remember, you are a traveler. Respect the people and places you go to visit. Respect their customs, tip accordingly, try and learn their language, and truly immerse yourself in the culture. Travel changes us to be better than we were by opening our eyes and giving us newfound respect.
For example, Southwest Airlines boards their planes using a letter-based grouping system. Passengers check in no earlier than 24 hours before their flight and receive a number and letter combination (like A23 or B14). Passengers line up in groups of five, loosely in order and board when your group is called. It’s open seating on Southwest so you get pick your seat.
If travelling for a long time, take your own device that can pick up wifi, like a smartphone or tablet. We didn’t do this because we didn’t want to bring an expensive item backpacking, but it turned out to be incredibly expensive to use the internet, or impossible to find any. Yet there is free wifi in places all around the world, and you quickly realise how often you need to tap in to things like bank accounts or travel bookings. More: 10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs
Work-Around: If you unexpectedly decide to rent a car in Europe, use your laptop, notebook, tablet, or smartphone to book your rental through a U.S. website. Just make sure you reach a U.S. website; often, when you go online overseas, the default site that appears is the local version of a company's website. If access to a U.S. site seems blocked, try a Canadian site.
One or two text messages from the road might be all you need to use during your trip. You might want to text your family to let them know you've arrived safely, text your pet or house sitter, or send a cheery text from the beach to make a friend jealous. Sound good? Then purchase a text package before you leave. For example, AT&T offers Global Messaging Packages for more than 150 countries. Messages received are deducted from your domestic plan.
If possible, start a running or walking routine. This allows you to stay healthy on the road without relying on specific gym equipment or facilities, and also lets you tour the area you're working in and get a sense of the place outside the cubicles and meeting rooms. I aim to do my running routine in the morning since evenings are usually consumed with dinners or catching up on other work, and it's always interesting to see a place as it wakes up and engages in life's little routines.
That said, remember that a work trip isn’t your own personal spring break. Even if you’re technically off the clock, after-hours events with your co-workers are not the time to ride the mechanical bull, challenge a local to a drinking contest, or re-enact your favorite scene from Coyote Ugly. What happens at the regional sales conference doesn't necessarily stay at the regional sales conference—and you don't want to run the risk of your bad behavior making it back to your boss. A good rule of thumb is not to drink more on a work trip than you would at any other business function.
If you're staying in a hotel, call in advance to see if laundry services are available and how much they cost. Travelers staying in properties without laundry facilities or taking cruises—cruise lines are notorious for charging an arm and a pant leg for laundry services—can wash clothes in sinks and hang them to dry. I always make sure to pack a travel-size packet of laundry detergent and a sink stopper to clean my clothes on the road—it's my secret for fitting everything in a carry-on bag. Portable laundry-drying lines that attach to showers via suction cups are also a good choice; you can find them at many travel-supply stores.
DVT causes leg pain, but the real concern is that part of the clot could break off and flow to the heart or brain, causing severe injury or death. In its DVT pamphlet for travelers, the FAA advises airline passengers to increase leg-muscle activity while flying by walking around in the cabin or exercising lower legs and ankles from a seated position.
Don’t follow the beaten path that every traveller takes, just because you feel like you should. What interests you? What do you want to see and learn about? One of the first stops on my trip was Chernobyl — not exactly a popular tourist destination. I didn’t know anybody who had been there, but it sounded fascinating to me. This is your trip: go where excites you, not where you feel you should go.
If you disregard all other advice about carrying money when traveling, take this tip to heart: Whenever possible, divvy up your travel cash and even credit cards into multiple safe spots. If you've got all your money in one place, it only takes one time for a thief to totally wipe you out. You can even apply this idea when you're out and about by keeping some money attached to your person and some in a bag you carry. That way, if your bag gets lost or snatched, you'll still have enough to get to a police station or back to your hotel.
Pack light! Vegas loves to give stuff away and if you like to shop, buying a new suitcase can be pricey on the strip. So, bring an empty bag for your new stuff! Vegas in the summer is super hot- sometimes 120 degrees! You don't want sweat your clothes out before your important meeting, so dress light! Bring at least one outfit in case you get invited to dinner, a club, or VIP event as the club owners & restaurants don't allow you in if you are not dressed to impress.
1. Use a travel checklist. Even if you travel all the time, it’s easy to forget something. We should follow the advice of Atul Gawande in his popular book The Checklist Manifesto: To optimize performance, whether you’re a pilot, a doctor or a business traveler, keep a checklist and cross things off until you’re sure you have everything you need. Here’s an early version of the checklist I use today. (It is quite extensive.)
Smart explorers know that clothes should have more than just aesthetic value, so look for multipurpose pieces to accentuate your basics. Travel outfitters offer lines of vacation-friendly but stylish separates with a whole slew of side benefits, from sun and bug protection to ample hidden storage. Check out this wrap with 30 UPF sun protection from Magellan's and, for men, these sun-blocking T-shirts from TravelSmith (they would make great foundations to any ensemble).
Trying to make a tight connection between flights is a surefire way to add unnecessary stress (and a possible missed flight) to your journey. And you can't always count on airlines for guidance; their recommended connection-time minimums often leave frequent travelers wondering how anyone could possibly get to another flight in the suggested amount of time.
1. Do your research before you travel. First rule of safe travel — don’t be ignorant about where you are going. Make an effort to learn about the country, the political situation, the cultural norms, the safest spots for travellers, safe accommodations to stay and the areas or regions that are best avoided. Head off on your trip with your eyes wide open to avoid surprises.
If it’s a long business trip, you may have plenty of time to connect with local companies. It is, therefore, a good idea to start contacting them via social media and email a good few weeks or months beforehand so you have pre-scheduled meetings when you land. Also, pack wisely and include a power bank that can recharge your phone. It is also advisable to land a few days before your meetings/events so that you have the time to relax and get rid of the jet lag. Lastly, make sure to do some sightseeing; sometimes inspiration comes from quite unlikely places.
We all want to keep our money secure while traveling. Prepaid credit cards, which are often billed as a safer and more convenient alternative to carrying cash abroad, might seem like a smart option. You purchase a card and load it with funds in your preferred currency ahead of your trip. And if your card gets lost or stolen, you can cancel it immediately. Simple, right? Unfortunately, it's not so simple.
Ask any experienced traveler for tips, and they’ll probably mention the benefits of having a positive attitude. Flight cancelled? Accidentally reserve a Smart Car instead of a rental van? Instead of having a meltdown, try to calmly look for ways to solve the problem. Anticipate that there might be a few delays or uncomfortable moments during your journey, and resolve not to let them get to you. Attitudes are infectious, and a good one or a bad one can set the tone for everyone on your trip. Plus, not only will your positive attitude impress your co-workers, it’ll increase your chances of getting an upgrade. And hey, that’s the real key to business travel! Have fun!
The biggest tip I have to make travel more efficient and affordable is simply to book in Airbnb rather than hotels. When we are going out to a conference and need to bring several people, you are looking at $250 per room per night for three nights (and that equals $2,250 in our case). Rather than paying that huge sum, you can book at an Airbnb near the convention center and pay $250 per night, or $750, saving the cost of two conference tickets!
One of my top travel hacks is to create an Excel/spreadsheet that I share with my other travel companions to ensure that we thought about the major details of the trip. A lot of people get really overwhelmed when trip planning as there are so many details to think about. However, if you like to do independent travel, a spreadsheet can be really helpful for figuring out the logistics of your trip ahead. This way, you can just show up at your destination with no stress.
As for being open, most folks on earth are nice, kind and will chat you up for a bit. I made a few awesome friends here in Fiji by being open, by saying “bula!” and by extending the conversation just a little bit. Sharing your thoughts, and connecting, helps you make friends and if you haven’t made at least a handful of travel buddies over the years you’re missing the point.
Number 2 and 4 rings so true for me. I hate the burnout of travel. I always feel I am going to come back to a place so I try to do less and enjoy a more rich experience, hoping to build on that the next time I come back. Traveling even after having kids is one of my big beliefs. I am not one to want to wait till the kids are out of the house to experience the world. While i am healthy and at my most active self, I want to experience the world – with the kids when possible.
Hotels hate having empty rooms, so if you can, wait until the last minute to book your stay to get the best rates. On the other hand, if you need to cancel your hotel reservation last minute and want to avoid a cancellation fee, you can often manipulate a small loophole by rescheduling for a later date (which is usually free), and then calling and requesting a cancellation through another representative.