Anyone who travels for business a lot knows that it can be grueling. In many ways, it's getting tougher, so we need to do what we can to make things easier. I've been traveling for work since I started working, well over 30 years ago. In that time I like to think I've learned a thing or two to survive doing business on the road. Here are my top 11 tips.
1. Pre-book airport transfers
I always use limousine services for airport transfers. This means I'm not caught up in last minute frantic chasing of taxis, or an UBER 3x surcharge in a busy period. And from my experience, a pre-booked limousine transfer only costs a little more than a taxi. It's nice to get off a long flight and have someone waiting with a sign to pick you up. No jostling for taxis, waiting in long lines or dragging bags all over the airport trying to find where you meet your shuttle bus.
2. Stay at the same hotels when you travel
I know a lot of people hunt for the best prices when it comes to accommodation. I tend to stay at the same hotels in certain cities and pay the premium when they are full. The reason is that I choose a hotel based on its location, meaning how close it is located to good restaurants, my clients, places to relax etc. I also get to know the hotel staff, to the point where they let me leave a suitcase with clothes and books on the premises, meaning I have less luggage. And most importantly, they will go out of their way to help me, as I'm a regular. To me, this is well worth paying a few extra bucks per night.
3. Have two of everything
I have two toiletries bags and two sets of computer and phone cables, one set is for home, the other is for travel. The one's for travel are always left in my suitcase so I never get to my destination late at night only to realize I've left my toothbrush at home.
4. Hide a credit card in your suitcase
On the very rare chance that you might lose your wallet or purse, getting stuck on the road without your credit cards, especially at night, can be a real challenge. I always have a credit card hidden away in my luggage so that in a worse case scenario, I've got a backup.
5. Always get 3 keys when you check in
One thing that drives me crazy with card keys is getting all the way to your room and the key doesn't work. It happens all the time. Some hotels seem to be worse, clearly, their card cutting technology is not that good. To avoid this issue, which only seems to happen late at night, when you've finally made it back to your room, with your arms full, I get a minimum of 3 keys cut at check in. At one hotel I used to stay at - it was such an issue that I got 6 keys cut at check in. I told them, fix your system and I wouldn't need to do this.
6. Keep a list of contact numbers in your suitcase
There is nothing worse than losing a phone - the big problem, of course, is that most of us don't know any of the numbers of other people because they are all in the memory of the phone. I always travel with a complete contact list of important numbers just in case and there have been a number of occasions when I've had to use it.
7. At home, have a "travel space"
I have a table at home that is purely for travel. This is where I keep everything I take with me on a regular basis and anything that I need for that particular trip. It really makes life easier and stops me from forgetting things in the last minute packing frenzy.
8. Build up your loyalty status with a hotel chain
I tend to only use two hotel chains and throughout the year this enables me to build my points to become their highest tier loyalty program member. There are many advantages that come with this that once again, means a lot more than saving a few bucks by shopping around for cheaper deals. Things like room upgrades, access to business lounges to conduct meetings, free Internet etc.
9. Travel with a really good health and well-being kit
As a presenter, when I travel, I have to do my utmost to be in top shape when I arrive. There are so many bugs constantly going around that I need to be proactive. I have a comprehensive health and well-being kit, made up mainly of naturopathic/homeopathic preventatives as well as treatments, along with more traditional medicines and "cure all's". It just means I can take action the minute I start to feel unwell.
10. Allow some downtime when you're on the road
When I was younger I tended to fill every minute that I was away with work sales calls. I would meet people for breakfast and still be going with other clients late into the night, day after day. The problem with this is that you soon burn out. It leads to a terrible lifestyle and really, how productive do we are when we work like this for a long period of time? Today I pace myself much more when I'm traveling. I will often take a morning off to do stuff that I really enjoy, or even take a day off if I'm feeling particularly fried. This keeps me both mentally and physically in much better shape and I do better business as a result.
11. Avoid traveling when everyone else is
I learned a long time ago to do everything I can to avoid airports on a Friday night or a Monday morning. I tend to fly to wherever I'm heading the day before, arrive relaxed, get myself ready and then hit the ground running on the Monday morning. The same applies when I'm leaving. Rather than do the manic Friday night chaos, I stay an extra night, have a great meal, catch up with friends or just have a quiet night in my hotel, and leave in a nice leisurely way on the Saturday morning. It costs me an extra nights accommodation but I arrive home in much better shape.