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.
Even if you aren’t headed to a beachside city or major metropolis, work trips don’t have to be total snooze-fests. Every destination, no matter how small, has something to keep you and your co-workers entertained. Find the local hot spots using TripAdvisor and Fodor's, or search by city on the Food Network website for restaurants featured on shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. At the very least, you'll avoid an overpriced meal at a mediocre chain restaurant, and you may even become the office hero for discovering that the sleepy southern city you're visiting is home to the world's best hickory-smoked ribs.
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).
Often, us gals pack everything but the kitchen sink. I'm always one to advocate packing only what can be used in multiple ways and dressing things up with accessories like colorful scarves, a funky belt or some textured tights. These are all small, lightweight and add wardrobe interest while taking up minimal space. I suggest never taking more than 3 pairs of shoes, even for the longest trip and NEVER take high heels of any kind, lest you want a TRIP in more ways than one. Bon voyage!
The Bundle Approach: This ingenious method of packing, which we learned from Judith Guilford, co-founder of the Easy Going travel store and author of The Packing Book, has now become our favorite. It’s a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but we’ll do our best. You need luggage that opens up and lies flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular “core” with dimensions that are at least 1/2 to 3/4 the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.
"Packing in a soft-sided weekender or duffel gives you the flexibility (literally!) to shape your bag to what you're packing instead of the other way around. My canvas overnighter takes on a different shape depending on what I need it to hold and will squish, even when packed almost beyond its means, into spaces a hard-sided roller bag just won't go. I hope my current bag will last forever but I'm eyeing this simple weekender from Makr as its eventual replacement." — Skye Senterfeit, Photo Editor
Traveling is a fun activity but doing it repeatedly can eventually tire a traveler down. Because of this, many frequent travelers have realized the importance of preparing luggage that allows one to carry necessary travel items without compromising comfort. Much of the challenges come from identifying the trip, choosing and prioritizing the items that will be brought according to the trip, and finding the right packing technique to ensure that the luggage that will accompany the traveler will not cause any discomfort.
If you are constantly visiting the same location, find a hotel you like and make that your go-to accommodation on each trip. This way, over time, you can negotiate the rates of the hotel; if you know you will be staying in this city for at least two weeks throughout the year, that’s two weeks that hotel needn’t worry about their rooms being empty. This gives you grounds to negotiate some sort of special rate in advance of your trip. Many hotels are famous for giving corporate rates and discounts for loyal customers, so it can’t hurt to ask. Furthermore, returning to a hotel you know you will like will seriously help to reduce your stress levels. You know what you’re going to get, and you know you like it.
I have a funny story that your peeing story reminded me of as the same happened to me. Even though I was begging the driver to stop I wasn’t successful so… I guess my bladder made some Universe magic happen as 2 minutes later the bus broke down in the middle of a bridge in the highway so I ended up peeing behind the bus, facing the cars, my partner covering me with a jacket. I’m a woman so… it was pretty funny and yes, people quite laughed at me but whatever… I was about to burst so who cares jajajajaja
Grow your list of potential clients and connected friends by reaching out to people that you are socially connected with and offer to buy them coffee. This is a great way to grow your network and spread the message about what you do. To connect with a larger group, host a meetup and invite your social friends that are in the area or will be in the area!
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Every business trip is different. Certain trips are filled with meetings from the moment you land, while others are more relaxed and let you enjoy gaps between schedules. Regardless of your schedule, always dress comfortably for the flight. Forget about wearing a suit; you will not be able to snatch some rest during the flight with a formal business attire.
My annual business travel averages more than 100 hotel nights and 50 one-way flight segments. This travel is entirely for face-to-face sales meetings, which are notorious for being canceled, rescheduled, forgotten and so on. So, I follow three concrete rules when planning and setting business trip meetings. First, emphasize you are traveling from out of state for the meeting to establish it is not canceled or rescheduled easily. Second, send the calendar invitation for the meeting while you are still on the phone with the prospect. Lastly, if the calendar invitation is not accepted, I will assume the meeting is off until it is reconfirmed on the phone and accepted.
When traveling abroad, know the 4 key words that open doors for you in that country's language: Hello, thank you, please, and goodbye. I've used those key words in German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian and have gotten big smiles, lots of friendliness, and superior service. If you can say, "I'm sorry I don't speak French or German or..." in that language and sound like you really mean it, that's the icing on the cake.
8. Create an on-boarding routine. This is particularly important for long-distance flights. For example, organize all your reading material in a separate bag (within your carry-on) before you get on the plane. When you reach your seat, take the bag out and put the carry-on away. I am amazed by the amount of time wasted by people who arrive at their seat and start rummaging through their bags to find all the things they want for the flight, while fellow passengers steam in the aisle waiting for this ritual to end.
Never forget to pack multiple power banks/portable phone chargers when traveling for business. Low battery anxiety is real—there’s even a name for it: Nomophobia (Google it!). Please note: low battery anxiety is exacerbated when traveling. There is no reason to land at your destination on 10 percent phone power. As a businessperson, I cannot afford to lose my connection to my customers, social media, email, the outside world. Even a small power bank solves the problem and eliminates unnecessary stress.
A study from budget airline easyJet claims to pinpoint the perfect airplane seat: 7F. Their reasoning? It sells the best. But these results conflict with an earlier survey from Skyscanner that claimed 6A was the best according to a poll of travelers and a consideration of “lucky numbers.” Ticket sales and lucky numbers are great, but neither of these methods seems entirely sound to us. So which seat on the plane is the BEST, and how do you pick it? Check out this article for what flight attendants and experts have to say.
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.
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.
California is made for road trips. An easy-to-navigate network of more than 50,000 miles of good-quality highways and freeways link just about every corner of the state, with secondary routes leading to even more under-the-radar finds. Some of these roads are famous—Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast, legendary Route 66, and Avenue of the Giants (Highway 101 winding through towering redwoods). Some are workhorses—most notably Interstates 5 and 80—getting drivers (and truckers) up and across the state as quickly as possible. But even these heavy-lifters can lead you to surprising destinations.
Camping: In California, camping is everything it should be—pitch your tent under the stars at campgrounds scented with pine trees, next to alpine lakes and desert oases, or on a spectacular stretch of coastline. If “roughing it” isn't your style, try “glamping,” or glamorous camping, in outdoor settings with fully equipped tents or rustic cabins or even Mongolian-style yurts.
In the same breath, your business trip is not the time to throw your exercise routine out the door either. Always try to book a hotel with a gym and go first thing in the morning if you can. That way, you won’t have an excuse to not go later in the day, or the opportunity to schedule something that cuts it out. Learn bodyweight exercises or yoga at home, so that if, for whatever reason, you find yourself without a gym, you have a few go-to’s on hand. Picking up running is also a great idea. This will be a great way to both burn calories and explore a bit of the city you’re in.
Seasoned business travelers will be less effected by jet lag. This is because we are simply used to being in multiple time zones and having to be “up” for customers or colleagues. It doesn’t always work (sometimes you are just dog tired), but with practice and training you can start to tune your body to be less dependent on the actual time zone it is in or coming from.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said. Travel is a life changing experience which draws people together and educates. Even if you don’t have plans to sell everything and travel continuously, the best tip I could give is to travel to a different country at least once in your life. See how other people live their lives. Witness the day to day things like going to the market, or how something simple like lunch is done in Spain, France or Italy. Having this perspective is a good thing and helps understand the world a little bit better.
In Five Tips for Fitting it All in a Carry-on Bag, Caroline Morse advises travelers to leverage their personal-item allowance, suggesting, "Forget wasting my personal-item allowance with a tiny purse. I'll bring a larger tote bag that I can stash under the seat but will still give me extra storage space. This will come in handy for keeping all of the things I'll need to be on hand during the flight within arms' reach as well."
They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource! This is probably one of the most underused travel tips in the world. Use the tourism board! Save money!