For international travelers, one of the most costly items when traveling is phone calls. One of the best ways to save money is to use a spare, unlocked GSM phone. When you arrive, simply purchase a local SIM card. You can now use the phone for local calls and you can receive calls and texts free (outside the US, incoming calls and texts are free). You can also forward your work phone to your SIM number and receive calls on the road. Tell folks to send texts. It will save you money.
Another fun way to explore California is to travel by train—a great way to enjoy the scenery instead of focusing on the road ahead. Amtrak’s legendary Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner trains follow ultra-scenic routes up and down the coast. The Capitol Corridor provides an easy east-west route across Northern California, while the San Joaquin slices through the broad and sunny Central Valley with connections to Yosemite National Park and other destinations. Along the way, there are options to link to Amtrak Thruway buses, which serve more than 90 destinations statewide. (Plus, you can disembark and rent a car at major stops to do additional exploring.) Depending on the route, you may be able to book a space in a special sleeping car, with access to an exclusive parlor car.
Your best bet for flexibility in these areas comes if you book your stay during the shoulder season when the owner might simply be pleased to fill an otherwise-open weekend or midweek-to-midweek slot. The additional savings in that case might be on your flights to and from your destination, because you won't be paying exorbitant weekend fares to get there and back.
Speaking of your body, this is the phase of travel where your body really starts to hate you, so come equipped to pamper it as best you can. Germaphobes, bring hand sanitizer and your own travel pillow. Prone to tight muscles or leg cramps? Bring a tennis ball to roll out what aches, or place it under a leg to release pressure in a knot. Frequent travelers might consider investing a pair of compression socks to increase blood flow during such long periods of immobility.
A business trip is not a holiday. You will be expected to be on your game at the drop of a hat, so this is perhaps the worst time to disrupt your regular diet. Rather than turning to comfort foods, consider a healthy comfort meal that you can eat – as sad as it may sound – as frequently as possible, especially when traveling abroad. The best way to minimize stress on your body and disruptions to your routine is going to be keeping your meals simple and healthy. While some companies provide business travelers with prepaid meal cards for healthier restaurant chains, if you are one of those on your own with the company card:
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.
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 email@example.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.