We seem to fly more international business class travel now, than before I quit my “real” job. In the last 6 years, we’ve flown some of the top business class products on the market. And we’ve learned how to make the most of a business class flight. In this post, we share our top 10 business class travel tips and offer a roundup of some of our top business class flights. And, the best part, because I am not really a business traveler, I can spend my time enjoying the business class flights! Not working!
Whenever you travel, it’s a great strategy to put together a networking dinner. This lets you learn about your target audience and gain new leads. Already have a customer or two in the city you’re visiting or a connection in your network? Invite them, and ask them to make introductions to a few others. Otherwise, you can use cold outreach. Frame the meal as a chance to get to know other folks in the same industry. Exchange business cards and tell people what you do but don’t pitch. Pay for the entire meal if you have the budget. Your guests will feel obliged to help you out when you later ask if you might do business with their company.
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.
But what about work trips? Suddenly, the inconveniences of travel are mixed with the potential awkwardness of spending 24/7 with your co-workers. Like it or not, though, you’re bound to have conferences, client trips, or company meetings on the calendar at some point. So before you pack your bags, here are a few tips on making it tolerable and even—dare we say it—fun.
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.
I make the most of my out-of-touch time on the plane, in transit, or in a hotel. Instead of being a slave to email, I prepare a list of phone calls I need to make and download PDFs of documents I need to read to my iPad, so that I can work easily in the airport and on the flight. I make sure to email myself source documents and open/save them before I get on the plane, so that I can edit or write in-flight.
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!
Many of our favorite places are best traversed on foot. Skip the expensive sightseeing trolley and instead sign up for a group walking tour in your destination. If you're wary of being led around a tourist trap by someone in cheesy colonial garb, don't worry: Many destinations offer innumerable walking tours for every type of traveler, from the art buff to the culinary enthusiast. (Plus, a brisk walk between neighborhood nibbles almost outweighs the calories—we hope.)
Also, there are plenty of ways to take photos of yourself without asking strangers to do it. I’ve asked someone to take a photo of me exactly twice over the past five years. Buy a tripod, use a selfie stick, balance your camera on something. Regardless of that, being annoyed by someone who could be on a trip of a lifetime and wanting to capture a special moment, is kind of sad to me. As I said in the post, I really recommend not judging people because they travel in a different way to you. Or in this case, wish to capture their travels in a different way.
Asking is the quickest way to get a discount but it’s also the quickest possible way to piss off an Airbnb host. This is what differentiates the pros from the newbies. My general policy as a host — which I’ve been doing since 2011 — is to turn away hagglers because it signals a problem guest. It’s still possible, though, to get a confirmed booking and save some money without irritating a host so much they end up declining a guest’s inquiry outright. The trick is learning how to do it delicately.
9. Develop a routine for sleep and eating. Eat before you get on the plane to maximize the amount of time you can sleep, particularly for red-eye flights. Transcontinental and transatlantic flights are often too short for a full night’s sleep. So maximize your Z’s by “preparing for bed”–brushing your teeth and getting into comfortable clothes–before the flight. Go to sleep as soon as you hit the seat. Scoring a window seat avoids being disturbed by fellow passengers during the flight.
Travel can be hard on leather shoes, purses, belts, and jackets, so if you find yours looking worse for the wear while you're on the road, turn to your hotel bathroom for a quick fix. Liquid shampoo has an amazing superpower: a small amount, rubbed in circles with a cloth, can clean and restore the rich color of leather. It can also be a handy and quick way to protect leather shoes from winter salt stains.
“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!”
When’s the best time to book a flight? How can a free upgrade actually cost you money? Why are duct tape, petroleum jelly, and dental floss among the most valuable things you can pack? Find out the answer to these and many other questions with our list of the 101 travel tricks you need to try. (And then add your own tips and tricks in the comments area below!)
Same! Dave and I regularly talk about how, if we wanted to get me a spouse visa for New Zealand and had to prove our relationship was genuine, we’d only have around a dozen photos of us from five years of being together! I’m also wishing we had more so that we could have a big memory wall in our apartment — it’s not quite the same when it’s just a load of landscape shots.
Put your toiletries in a plastic bag inside your laptop case, since those need to come out during security, anyway. Forget about bringing running gear along. It takes too much space in your bag, you will not have the time to go running anyway and chances are, it will make your fresh shirts smell of old trainers. Instead, bring a bathing suit and hop in the hotel pool.
"Bring a mesh or collapsible laundry bag with you. When you're traveling to your destination, you can lay it over all your clothes to keep things in place. During your trip it helps keep your clothes off the hotel room floor and on the way home, it helps separate dirty clothes from clean — easy to grab and do your wash after a trip, too!" — Lindsey Campbell, Senior Audience Engagement Editor
As a productivity trainer, I travel quite frequently. Sometimes, there can be quite a bit of downtime. It could be long delays between flights or canceled flights requiring you to rebook on a later flight. This often causes travelers a great deal of stress. But, don’t fear downtime. If your flight gets delayed, you might default to checking your email or doing other work. However, it may be more productive to use this unexpected time to meditate or just let your mind wander. This kind of mental break boosts your productivity and creativity.
Use a partner to help out. Get them to stand a bit away, so they don’t get drawn in, but still in earshot so they can hear. When you’ve done a bit of haggling, bring them over and say ‘do you think this is worth the price?’. If they agree that it is, you’ve got a deal, if not it gives you another bargaining angle – ‘I’m sorry sir, my friend thinks I’m still paying a bit too much, could you go any lower?’.
Outdoor public bathing in warm pools is a deep rooted Icelandic tradition, dating back to the Viking days of original settlement. In Iceland, public bathing is much more than a mere pastime activity; Icelandic pools and public baths are community centres where people of all ages and professions gather to catch up with friends, relax after a hard day of work, or to recover from a long night of excessive indulgence.
Of course, things like your company’s travel policy, how often you travel, and the purpose and destination of your trips have a lot to do with how much you enjoy your life as a business traveler, but most of these are aspects that employees have little control over. What is in the hands of the business traveler, however, is strategy. Having the right strategies to approach the many steps of a business trip can truly make all the difference to an otherwise physically and emotionally weary business traveler.
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.