As a global business consultant, I travel. A lot. And I have to admit, it wasn't always easy or comfortable. Delayed and canceled flights. Long lines. Unhelpful airline staff. Jet lag. Breathing in recycled air. Sitting in one place for hours. The list of reasons goes on and on.
But, I'm happy to report that now it's much more tolerable and I even look forward to the many trips around the world that I'll continue to make. How did I come around? Lots of trial and error, and a few tips from other well-traveled individuals.
And, so my gift to you this New Year are my top 6 secrets of global travel:
You're in a new country--a land with interesting people and exotic sites. Don't just stay in the hotel. Build some adventure into your trip. Spend time reading about the country, talk to colleagues who have been there before, and find out what to see or where to eat.
Spend time socializing with your colleagues who work there to build that bond and get a taste of the local culture.
Also, it's a good idea to touch base with the consulate to ensure what precautions you may need to make to stay safe while abroad.
Most business travelers know what to wear to meetings but they often forget about comfort and health. I've found a lightweight blanket, ear plugs, pillow, and eye mask to be a life-safer for catching some shut-eye on the plane.
Finally, save space for exercise clothes. Even if your schedule is jam-packed, just a thirty-minute workout can do wonders. It gets the blood flowing, your brain working, builds your immune system to fight colds and viruses, and makes you feel good.
The trick to overcoming jetlag is resisting indulgence in food, drink and sleep. Skip booze on the plane and drink water instead. Eat healthy, and get fresh air and exercise when you land. Finally, don't fall into the "power nap" trap. Try to get onto the local schedule as soon as possible.
Maximize Google Translate.
This app can ensure most things don't get lost in translation. Just be sure to bring a device that has WiFi (almost everywhere has it now) so you can tap into it to help give directions or express your wishes of where to go and what to see.
Keep it clean.
I have no shame when it comes to cleanliness. Bring wipes with you and wipe down airplane seats, hotel room door handles, remote controls, and any surface you're unsure of. Bring hand sanitizer to avoid germs that could make you sick and miserable in a far-away country.
Photos are good for memories but they also can come in handy when you need to remember where you came from and where you're going. Take photos with your phone of the metro stops so you know where to exit and get back on. Take a photo of your hotel, or grab a business card, so you know the address.
Traveling abroad doesn't have to be a hassle. By employing these secrets to success, I feel certain you too can be a globe-trotting expert in 2017.