I’m definitely testament to that! But expecting everything to go perfectly on your trip is only setting yourself up to fail. Nobody goes travelling and comes back without any stories of mishaps! No matter how prepared you are, at some point you’re going to get lost, get scammed, miss your bus, get food poisoning, injure yourself… the list is endless! Expect it to happen, and don’t beat yourself up when it does. In a month’s time, you’ll find it funny rather than frustrating.
TripAdvisor is fine when you need opening hours or an address, but when it comes to reviews I ignore it completely. People always leave a negative review when something bad happens but rarely leave a positive review when something good happens so the reviews tend to be skewed. On top of that, it’s very easy to create fake reviews and make a place seem better than it is. Many hotels and restaurants hire firms to artificially inflate their reviews on the platform. Additionally, TripAdvisor has been known to take down reviews that are overly negative as well reviews on sexual assualt. Use TripAdvisor with caution. Or better yet, don’t use it at all.
I always smile, say thank you, and compliment the people I interact with. If I like a necklace or a smile, I let them know. People appreciate honest praise. You might be the friendliest person they meet that day. I don't do it to get upgrades, but it has been known to happen. A ticket agent or desk clerk who hears complaints all day is happy to be treated as a person and shown respect. I do it because I used to do those jobs back in the day. I never regret being nice to people.
If you're traveling to a "regular" city and you're not taking clients out, a great way to save money is to get a gift card to a chain restaurant(s) you like. You save time, as you know the menu in advance and you potentially save money/hassles over unknown local options/hotel offerings. Of course, make sure that the chain exists where you're staying and this advice is for "regular" meals only - not trying local cuisine. This way, you can focus on business with one less distraction.
Perfecting the art of beating jet lag is a feat achieved by few, but there are a few important tips to at least get the amateur business traveler started. It’s always best to leave home well-rested so you avoid starting off on the wrong foot. From there, it is best to try to get as much sleep as you would in a 24-hour period at home. Your time in the air can either help or hinder you, as a plane is a great place to sleep, but often a difficult place to stay awake, if that’s what you need to do to settle into a new time zone. Either way, it is key to stay up until the local bedtime at your destination and not sleep in the following morning. Depending on which way you travel, the pros either recommend short naps and good coffee or short-acting insomnia medications like temazepam.
So many people email me for advice on their itineraries and I nearly always go back to them recommending that they visit half the number of places. You’ll enjoy your trip more if you work in rest days, and you’ll get a better taste for a place if you spend more time in it. Don’t plan a trip that has you jumping from capital city to capital city every few days. And take account of travel time! Don’t be like two nights in Bangok, two nights in Phuket, two nights in Koh Phi Phi, when it’ll take a day to travel between them all, leaving you with one day to actually see those places. Oh, and you’ll likely be jetlagged, too, so you’ll want to take that into account too.
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.
I have always searched for good business travel tips, and they used to be hard to come across. In my previous job as a human rights lawyer, I have had to attend many conferences that took me around the world. I admit it was the most pleasant part of my job, though admittedly business travel can be very stressful. Indeed, I was an avid traveler even before traveling became a lifestyle for me, and sure enough I always took advantage of conferences overseas to explore whichever place I had to go to.
But I’ve learned a ton from my experiences, too. To celebrate seven years since I stumbled my way out of the U.K. and began a life of full-time travel, I’ve compiled an enormous list of my biggest and best travel tips. These are all things that I wish someone had told me before I started traveling, so I hope you’ll find them useful, inspiring, educational, and entertaining.
Keep Your Routine: As much as possible, follow your home routine on the road. Traveling is stressful enough, don’t make it worse. If you workout in the morning at home, workout in the morning during travel. If you eat breakfast before work at home, eat breakfast before you leave the hotel. Keep your bedtime routine as well. If you drink tea before bed, bring tea and have some before bed. Following your night-time routine will improve your quality of sleep on the road.
Travel isn’t conducive for sleep, whether it’s snorers in dorm rooms, early risers rustling plastic bags, or drunk backpackers stumbling around in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t stay in hostels, you’ll still have to deal with street noise from outside, loud bars nearby, and uncomfortable overnight journeys. Pack some ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help improve your sleep. I’ve been using Sleep Phones to block out light and listen to podcasts and I love them.
Make the most of your layover in Iceland by booking one of Icelandair's tours, including a transfer to the Blue Lagoon between flights. See Dubai without having to pay for a visa with Emirates' stopover offer, which includes a free visa for a one-night stay. Get to the Eiffel Tower, even if you only have seven hours at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, by booking the Paris Transit Tour from Aeroports de Paris.
The best way to fit more into your bag is to have a suitcase that grows with your packing needs. Expandable suitcases double as two bags in one, often starting out carry-on size but expanding to a larger bag when needed. We love the Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright, which grows by 25 percent with the pull of a lever. If you're packing for a big trip (or need extra souvenir space on a return flight), simply expand the suitcase.
Bed & Breakfasts: California has hundreds of B&Bs, many in historic homes or hotels and a growing number at family-run (and family-friendly) farms, ranches, and vineyards. B&Bs can give a sense of the region's local character, with helpful innkeepers happy to share insider travel tips. Your stay also includes breakfast—imagine, just-baked scones, fresh eggs, or strawberries from the garden. To reserve a stay at one of nearly 300 B&Bs statewide, visit the California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns (CABBI).
One of the best business travel tips is to keep documents in good order. Seems pretty obvious, right? Well trust me, it isn’t. I had not realized my passport had almost run out of clean pages, and almost got stuck at the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. Make sure to check your passport and other travel documents before traveling. If you need a visa, do give yourself plenty of time to apply for it, because some embassies may be slow, or the process of getting a visa may be a bit tricky. Sites like iVisa offer fantastic online visa services and offer business visas for countries such as India, Brazil, Russia and Myanmar. I recommend to check them out to speed up the process!
There's an entire world of frequent traveler programs and credit card benefits that consume some people to the point of obsession. While collecting points might be a worthwhile hobby, it's also worth knowing if your company or credit card provides benefits that can save you some money and help keep your sanity. These programs might allow you access to airline lounges, provide special phone numbers for restaurant bookings, or provide insurance and help during travel disruptions. Generally, if you or your company pays a fee for the card there are likely some benefits. As you fly more, airlines and hotels might provide upgraded seats and rooms, and if nothing else, usually provide a special phone hotline that gives you priority service when things go sideways.
If you pack light in a carry-on bag, you are able to be more flexible and mobile in your travels. Make sure that your clothes can all do double duty for you. Your sleepwear can double as work-out or lounging clothes. Your pants are resilient from stains and wrinkles. Your tops are quick dry and you stay with one color scheme, so everything in every season fits in one small bag!
Traveler's checks are now widely considered outdated and a hassle. You run the risk of wasting time looking for a place that's actually able to cash your checks, and you'll be hit with hefty fees and poor exchange rates when you do. We advise you to rely primarily on plastic for travel money—credit cards for big-ticket items and debit (ATM) cards for cash.
Most people choose mid-morning to start their exploration. Get to the main attractions and famous sights as they open and relish the luxury of having the place all to yourself. It’s a great way to enjoy the otherwise crowded touristy places in peace. Be an early riser. Get ahead of crowds. As a family traveler, I’d say waking the kids up at the crack of dawn is hard but well worth an effort. Better than dealing with the hordes of tourists and cranky kids. Isn’t it?
I absolutely love these tips Matt! They are super humorous but so true. I love the money belt one actually. I plan to sew a secret pocket into my pants for my emergency cash – I read that somewhere and thought it was a good point. Although, come to think of it – when I want to use the cash, how do I get it out without everyone else noticing. Hahaha. I’ll figure it out.
Very informative post Lauren! I use most of these tips myself but there were a couple that I hadn’t thought of before – I especially love 89. I google image places to see what they look like too. I have also always used Skyscanner but have started looking on Momondo a lot more as there have been a lot of times when flights are cheaper on there. I also recently discovered Secret Flying which publishes error fares and great deals for flights – some of the deals on here are unbelievable!
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.
So many travellers preach that it’s all about experiences not possessions, but you know what? Sometimes possessions can offer beautiful reminders of the experiences you’ve had. I only started buying souvenirs from every country I visited in the last year, and I wish I’d been doing so from the start of my trip. And if you’re worried about space in your backpack, just mail them off to a friend or family once you’ve bought them and your pack will be none the heavier. My friend Jaime collects magnets from every place he visits and I’m so jealous of his collection!
There are many more perks to be picked up in the booking process than an amateur business traveler takes advantage of. Seeking these tips out can be useful for both eliminating or reducing travel stressors and increasing comfort or luxury. In other words, they make the bad stuff go away, and more good stuff fall right into your lap (and we’re not talking about that ginger ale).
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.
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.
As the TSA screening protocol has expanded, I've found small ways to save time during airport screening; I make sure that metal (watch, keys, change, phone, etc.) is in my computer bag - not on my person. And since airport requirements differ, I always assume the TSA will need to see my boarding pass a second time. Finally, for those wearing dress shoes through airport security, consider trading in your laces for a pair of slip-ons. You never know when you may need those two minutes you'll save.
4. Record room numbers. If you’ve been on the road for weeks on end, it can be very hard to remember if you’re staying in room 304 -- or if that was last week’s hotel. When I park in a numbered spot or check into a new room, I create an entry in the “notes” function of my smartphone, so I can quickly remember where I’m going. It may sound unnecessary, but it’s saved a lot of confusion and grief.
You know those ugly travel-specific clothes? They’re shapeless and made of quick-drying, breathable material, and covered in zips and pockets. Well, they’re great for travel, but you’ll also hate them. You’ll hate every photo of you wearing them. You’ll stand out immediately as a tourist in any place you visit. Instead, just bring the same clothes you’d wear back home. You’ll feel comfortable, you won’t stand out, and you’ll actually like the way you look.
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. But it may actually be more productive to use this unexpected time to meditate or just let your mind wander. This kind of mental break really boosts your productivity and creativity.
Joining an international business group like Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) can reap the rewards as you can then network with people whatever city you are in to maximize your time on any trip. EO has a large number of members from all around the world and is extremely easy to join — all you need to do is apply to become a member on their website. During any business trip, the schedule is pretty tight. It’s very difficult to make plans once you are there as every minute of the day needs to be planned out beforehand. International groups can help as they give you the chance to get in touch with professionals prior to your departure. Getting to know someone before the trip will make it easier to plan a meeting that will fit into the schedule and will make sure your trip is full of great opportunities for both business-related and other travel.
At many hotels, check-in and checkout times are far from set in stone. Loyalty members often get the option of early check-in or late checkout, and sometimes hotels offer the option with certain packages or room types. And if you've got a late flight or just need a home base for a few more hours, it never hurts to call the front desk and ask. Often, the hotel will be happy to oblige.
Most prepaid credit cards come with some surprising hidden fees, such as inactivity fees, reloading charges, monthly fees, activation fees, and so on. John Ulzheimer, CEO of SmartCredit.com, told CNNMoney, "Consumers need to realize that any insinuation that a prepaid card is less expensive than a debit card is false, and any claim that it will help you rebuild credit is just a lie."
Seriously. If you do only one thing before you leave, make it getting travel insurance. I’ve heard far too many horror stories of travellers injuring themselves in remote places and ending up in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you, because you know those travellers they thought that, too. I use World Nomads for my travel insurance provider and I’ve been really happy with them.
We all want to keep our money secure while traveling. Prepaid credit cards, which are often billed as a safer and more convenient alternative to carrying cash abroad, might seem like a smart option. You purchase a card and load it with funds in your preferred currency ahead of your trip. And if your card gets lost or stolen, you can cancel it immediately. Simple, right? Unfortunately, it's not so simple.
You must be age 18 or older to purchase tobacco products in the state. Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings (including restaurants, bars, and casinos) and enclosed spaces throughout California. It is illegal to smoke within 20 feet of doorways or windows of government buildings. Most large hotels have designated smoking rooms; if you smoke, request one—most hotels will fine guests who smoke inside a nonsmoking room. Many cities in California have passed ordinances prohibiting smoking in public areas, and smoking is prohibited in some national and state park buildings and areas.
This is always my number-one travel tip -- there are just so many benefits and so few downsides to taking less stuff with you when you travel. When we first set off on our travels, we maxed out the full baggage allowance, and it slowed us down. Carrying so much also caused various types of pain and annoyance: actual physical back pain, the irritation of having to lug around a whole lot of not-so-useful gear, the difficulty of finding somewhere to store our stuff on transit days.
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.
An alternative to space-saving bags and packing cubes, packing folders are pretty much what the name implies: folders for your clothing. They usually come with boards, which help you fold your clothing efficiently and compact multiple items to save space. Check out the product video for Eagle Creek's Pack-It Folder 18 to see how it works. The 18-inch folder holds eight to 12 items, including bulkier garments. Your bag will be neater and seem emptier!
Sunscreen’s a good idea for situations where you can’t otherwise avoid extended sun exposure, but it’s got its problems too. It enables you to spend unnatural amounts of time exposed to the sun, and unnatural is almost always bad. Plus it blocks your skin from absorbing all the sun’s nutrients. There’s also a debate about whether some of its chemicals are toxic or not—if not to you, at least to the environment. And…
Be a regular, not just another, guest. Too often, business travelers play the "points" game to get the perks at all properties or the points for family vacations. I've changed that approach and become "property" loyal as a regular. What do I get out of that? I get the best in house upgrade all the time, at the same rate of a regular room, VIP Lounge access, and free Internet all the time. I even get rooms when the hotel is sold out, at my regular rate. At other properties, the hotel GM has me treated like a VIP.
Having trouble paying for your next jaunt? Invite a few friends. The more people you can get to pool money into a single getaway, the better. Groups of travelers hitting the road together can see huge savings on packages, accommodations, and more, whether by taking advantage of low-priced vacation rentals or snapping up discounted group package rates.
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.
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.
Business Class Flight Route: Upgrading on Emirates is one of the best business class deals out there. It’s one of our top Emirate business class tips. Whereas many airlines give some outrageous last-minute prices to upgrade to business class, Emirates offers similar prices for their business flights one month out, one week out, and even day of. We’ve flown them from Lyon to Bangkok and Bologna to Bangkok, both on great business class offers. Both flights had layovers in Dubai. We flew the Emirates Boeing 777-300 ER. Emirates flies 6 to 7 times a day to Bangkok, most of the flights are on the Emirates A380. Some of the flights are so empty they seem like an all business class airline.
Work trip schedules run pretty tight and you may not have much time to get your regular requests done without sacrificing sleep. In addition to being as well-rested as possible before you go, get as up to date with your workload as possible to give yourself a buffer. It would also be worthwhile to see if there are any colleagues who can help pick up some slack while you’re out of the office, making sure they are aware of what might come up, and where they can find what they need.