1. Learn the basic road laws. Ride in the direction of traffic and use the bicycle lanes when available. California law says you must ride as close to the right side as possible, unless the road is too narrow to be shared—in which case you are allowed to “take the lane.” (Not all motorists understand this, though, so always take precaution in this situation.) The California Bicycle Coalition outlines all the bike laws to know before you ride.
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.)
Don’t forget to squeeze in some light exercise in between flights and meetings. A 30-minute walk around the airport or a simple stretching routine when you feel tired is often all that is needed to refresh. Exercising also keep the body metabolizing at the ideal rate, which means you can sleep better at night and not have to worry about possible health problems ruining the trip.
I used to be disastrous with my tech, but now that I have cases for everything, I’m doing much better. It’s worth getting a shell for your laptop, a keyboard cover for accidental spills, a sturdy case for your Kindle, and a waterproof case for your phone. Replacing tech is expensive and spending a day trying to figure out which island you need to fly to in the Philippines in order to get your laptop repaired is frustrating.
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.
I love that you put try the local food at the top of the list. I have friends who love to travel but will never venture outside of restaurants like McDonald’s and the Hard Rock Cafe. These are also the friends who have gotten sick more times traveling then any person I know. Best advise is to look for the long lines of locals outside a restaurant or food stall and get in the line.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
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.
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.
Usually, just having a smile seems to get me what I want. I always ask when I check in however, if there is an upgrade available, if they give extra points for anything, and what specials might be available. Just last night (although at a stage theater) I asked if I could upgrade my row. Although they don't do exchanges, they made an exception and upgraded me 8 rows.
This is the best way to build your travel confidence and is especially easy in Southeast Asia. There are many benefits to it, too: you’ll get to discover cool places that aren’t listed online or in the guidebooks, you’ll be able to look at the rooms before you commit to staying, you can negotiate on price, and you’re not tied to a specific schedule where you need to be somewhere because you’ve booked your accommodation already.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.