Fall typically conjures up images of buckling down on work projects before year's end and scheduling in as much business travel as possible before Thanksgiving in late November. At least that is how my calendar is shaping up with work travel scheduled to with trips to Cleveland, Indianapolis and Ottawa in one week alone. With six 6 flights in 6 days, I turned for advice from Paul Cameron, CEO and Co-Founder of Booktrack, a global technology company that synchronizes movie-style soundtracks to eBooks and Chris Smith, Founder and CEO of AREA360, an innovative mobile platform used by organizations across the globe to enhance the visitor experience. Paul and Chris are seasoned road warriors, because they have to be. Booktrack was founded in New Zealand but now has offices in San Francisco, Toronto, Hong Kong and the Philippines, so Paul is frequently in the air traveling between offices and countries. AREA360 has its headquarters also in New Zealand however, with an office in Seattle, Chris knows Sea-Tac like the back of his hand.
Here are their top tips for the Entrepreneurial traveler.
1. Always Avoid Lines (or Queues, as Paul refers to them). Regardless of your seat assignment or TSA Pre-check status always ask where the priority line is-for both security and immigration (and remember to ask nicely when you check in where they are and if they have a pass for you).
2. Get A Front Row Seat. Continuing the avoidance of lines theme, Paul suggests that when possible, I get a seat at or near the front of the aircraft to avoid the slow, agonizing exit behind fellow passengers off the plane. And let's face, the majority of passengers who require extra time to board the plane, don't apply the same consideration to exiting the plane.
3. Stretch Your Legs-When You Get Off The Plane. Regardless of my seat location, Paul encourages me to maintain a brisk (but not rude!) pace to get to the front of the immigration lines (or queues). I assure Paul that as a New Yorker, I have already mastered this suggestion.
4. Get Organized. For security checkpoints their recommendations are to wear slip on/off shoes, put my phone/wallet/coins/belt in my bag before the x-ray check so only my laptop needs to be dragged out for security.
5. Tune Out. Get a good pair of comfortable, noise cancelling headphones (Paul recommends Bose Quiet Comfort 25′s) and put them on the minute you're safely seated with your bags securely stowed. Always make sure you bring your own entertainment-otherwise cabin noise will interrupt your flow (or sleep).
Tuning out has the added advantage of enhancing productivity.
Chris is a kindred travel spirit, and he too considers time on airplanes as some of the most productive hours possible in an ever-connected life. While most people you see above 30,000 feet are glued to various forms of entertainment, or working like it's a normal day through their GoGo In Flight WiFi, Chris chooses to shut out all connections to the broader world and use the time to focus. He allocates his time this way: a quarter of the allotted flight time is dedicated to catching up (typically tasks such as unread or unanswered email), and the reminder of the time is spent reading business books, writing ideas, and strategizing on growth opportunities for his company. For Chris, there is something about the confined space and option to disconnect from the world, that focuses him into a productive 2 to 20 hour flight hack.
Another reminder from these travelers: don't forget to have your devices charged, spare batteries and adapters just in case, not all airlines have in-seat power chargers!
6. Tackling Jet Lag. Paul has a tactical suggestion on how to minimize the impact of jet lag: Make your trip as comfortable as you can by picking and committing to one airline. Loyalty means points, status and upgrades-and a better flying experience than can be justified by a seat sale. Paul always chooses to fly with the same airline (Air New Zealand) or a partner airline, as this increases his chances of upgrades and more air miles - the gold of budget savvy entrepreneurs.
Chris provides this additional insight: Keep an eye out for status matching programs, as most airlines will kill to have your frequent traveling dollars shift from another airline. Case in point: Delta matched Chris' United status for a whole year, allowing him to test out their flights and see which experience he liked more, without having to start earning miles from scratch.
Additional tips on jet lag, beyond staying hydrated, Paul practically suggests that I don't stress the jet lag - sleep if tired, set an alarm if there is a meeting, and eat when hungry. Why fight it (to my knowledge, no one has ever suggested anger as a sleep aid), just embrace the jet setting entrepreneur mentality of discovery and exploration in a new city. If you cannot sleep, you may as well be meeting interesting people-one of the perks to pursuing the entrepreneurial dream!