Sometimes I spend up to 75 percent of a month traveling between different Techstars programs and locations. I'd say that the norm is 50 percent--which still means that I'm only home in my bed around half of the time.
This means that I've given a lot of thought and experimentation to making travel as painless--or even comfortable--as possible. After all, if I don't arrive rested and ready to do business, then there's no point in traveling at all.
At this point, I can travel with only a backpack for a week-long trip. It takes careful planning to be able to do this and still have everything I'll need. Here's my rubric:
Pack clothes only for the number of days that you are away, no more. Sometimes, I pack only half that number and hand wash them halfway through my trip.
Only bring one pair of shoes. Invest in a pair that are both versatile and comfortable. You won't regret it.
Know what can be worn more than once.
Leave toiletries at home. They have the basics at hotels and even Airbnbs. I've rarely found a hotel doesn't have a toothbrush and toothpaste, but I carry a prepasted toothbrush with me just in case.
Have one universal plug that you can use anywhere. If you need another, the hotel almost always has one you can borrow.
Make an electronics go bag of the minimal cords and things that you need for the road, and keep them stored there so you don't need to chase them down while packing.
Use your phone to keep notes so that you don't need to carry a notebook.
Be brutal about what belongs where in your backpack and keep it clear of clutter.
I carry an iPad with a keyboard and leave the computer at home. I use it to store movies and books, in addition to getting my work done on the road.
Up in the Air
Loyalty matters: If at all possible, pick an airline and fly it whenever you can. The more miles you earn, the more benefits you unlock. If you get into the upper tiers of an airline loyalty program, you can often win seats in business class or lounge perks. These are all worth it when you travel a lot.
Little known fact: Some airlines have annual Wi-Fi packages; if you fly one airline a lot, these are often cost effective and save time and hassle.
Loyalty matters with your payment method as well. The points you earn on your credit card can get you lounge access, better rooms in hotels, or meaningful other points that translate to dollars.
Coping With Jet Lag
I often fly into a city late at night or early in the morning, and I'm not always on my rested-person game. Here's what I do to prepare for what will inevitably be a long day:
- Know what will help you sleep on the plane so that you are rested when you arrive. Alcohol isn't necessarily the answer. Melatonin can be a nice, gentle sleep inducer (a few Good Day Chocolate Sleep supplements do wonders). An eye mask--as silly as it may look--is a big help.
- A quick shower is a great way to refresh. If I arrive early in the morning, the hotel will almost certainly not have a room for me until the afternoon. If you have access to a lounge at arrivals, take a shower at the airport.
- Don't do the daytime nap. Muscle through it and go to bed at a normal bedtime, even if it means 20 hours of being awake. You'll adjust that much faster.
- 4 a.m. is the witching hour with jet lag. Accept it. Play a game on your phone or read a book--but know if you jump into doing your work at 4 a.m., you'll be awake for the rest of the night.
Now get out there and build a global business!