Traveling in places where you don’t speak the language is surprisingly easy, but get ready to mime a lot. You can mime eating to ask someone if they’re serving food, mime sleeping to ask someone if there are any beds available in the hostel, and I even mimed that I needed to go to a train station by saying, “choo choo!” and drawing a picture of a train in my notepad for a taxi driver in Taiwan!
If you visit costly cities frequently, set up an office there. Become a member of several airlines and hotel chains to get discounts. Buy a business class ticket. Use coupons while traveling. Carry some ingredients with you and cook your meals at hotels. Stay in corporate housing. Do online research to find the cheap hotels. Select garments which are versatile and can be rolled quickly. Become friends with the hotel staff to get perks. Involve them in celebrations to get a free bottle of wine.
No matter where I’m traveling, I like to maximize my business trips by scheduling time for what I like to call the big three — existing client visits, new business meetings and professional development opportunities. Before heading out, think about which contacts are based in that area and plan to host a dinner or grab a quick coffee with them. These face-to-face meetings go a long way in maintaining relationships with existing clientele as well as forming connections with potential business partners. To maximize your time out of office, look into any additional conventions or meet-ups you can attend to either strengthen your skill set or learn something new. Being in a foreign learning environment can also be fantastic for networking. If you seek out opportunities in these big three areas, no minute will be wasted.
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
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.
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.
There are other, more nuanced things to consider, however, when choosing the perfect flight. Weathered business travelers recommend learning the (important) difference between a “direct” and a “non-stop” flight – being that while a direct flight might still touch down, but continue travel aboard the same airplane, a non-stop flight will. not. stop. There are also specific “booking codes” to look for before you press “confirm,” so keep your eyes peeled for a Y or a B. Selecting either will get you a full fare ticket, but grant you a complimentary upgrade to the next class if a space is left open.
When you arrive to check into your hotel, make sure you are upbeat and smiling. Greet the hostess and say, "It has been a very long day. I'm betting that you have a really nice room waiting for me." Normally, they smile and keep checking you in. At this point, just keep quiet. I am betting you will be very pleased when you open the door to your room. A smile and upbeat personality will get you a long way.
when staying in a hotel, just below the peephole in the door, there is usually a sign describing protocol for emergencies. next to this sign is (usually) a card inserted with room prices, check-out times, etc. pull this card halfway out and use it to cover the peephole for privacy. this gave me peace of mind when my young daughter and I traveled alone. an alternative would be to cover the peephole with a small piece of blue painter’s tape. I also locked and bolted the door and placed the (empty) plastic trash can a few inches from the door before we went to bed. this would give us valuable seconds if someone tried to enter our room while we were asleep!
“You’ll likely need to wash your clothes at some point, and carrying around a big bottle of Downy or Tide isn’t even enjoyable when you’re not toting your belongings on your back. My suggestion? Bring a ziplock baggie of powder detergent, and extra gallon size ziplock baggies (these come in handy in more ways than you can imagine). If you find yourself sans-washing machine, you can make your own by stuffing water/laundry/soap into the bag and giving it a little (okay, a lot of) shake. Rinse in water and voila: clean clothes. Easy peezy, fresh and breezy!”
I find that this method is really helpful for people who are planning a more complex trip or planning with a large group of people so that everyone is on the same page with knowing what they need to book. Many tend to wait until the last minute to book flights and thinking through your transportation as well as hotels can really cut down travel costs. It also helps you figure out whether your plans are realistic.
You know the socks you often get on overseas flights? The ones that don't fit quite right and come with weird treads that make them impossible to wear with shoes? Give them new purpose by keeping a pair on hand to protect items from getting chipped or scratched in transit. They're the perfect size to hold the trinkets you pick up on your travels—the ones that don't need to be enveloped in bubble wrap but do need a bit of extra protection before being tossed into your bag. And in a pinch, they can serve as a handy alternative to a glasses case in your bag or purse.