Travel Tips

I find it strange in this day of Internet enabled devices and Skype meetings that companies pay for their tech people to fly round the world to setup hardware and explain systems to senior management in person rather than via a VPN or virtual meeting, but hey it gets me out of the office and into another one.

Traveling on business can be stressful and leave you exhausted at the other end with a deadline looming or important meeting. I’ve decided to write up my tips and ideas on how to make business travel a little easier.

Know your details

Probably the most important thing to have is a plan or schedule of What, Where, Who and When. We already know the why – business.

Knowing your flight times, flight numbers, airline contact numbers and terminal buildings should be top priority. Usually your company will provide you with an itinerary but I like to amend mine with extra details such as the local numbers for the airlines and airport information. Local taxi numbers at each destination and I also like to plan my way round a new airport in case my transfer time gets short and I need to hurry.

It’s also nice to let somebody else know your travel plans so they can stay in touch or help you out in a bind. http://www.tripit.com is a great site that can compile your itinerary from lots of difference sources.

Plan for delays

The biggest stress reliever I have is knowing that I have a plan if there are delays or alterations. Having a backup plan for travel when your flight gets in the hold for 30 minutes and you need to make a connection quickly really helps.

If you have a smartphone make sure you have any airline applications on your phone and use them for status updates, always try and be ahead of the pack otherwise you can find yourself at the back of a 300 person queue.

If you do need to queue and speak to somebody being civil is the best thing you can do regardless of how you might feel. A top tip from Scott Hanselman is to “speak the language of the airport” when dealing with staff. Give them flight numbers, 24-hour times, airport short codes e.g. LHR (London Heathrow) and have your passport and any boarding cards or booking references quickly to hand. The more you can help them the faster they will help you.

Know the rules

Security is an unfortunate part of air travel today, but you can ease your transition through the checkpoints by dressing cleverly and being selective about what is in your carryon bag.

For example I don’t wear a belt or jacket when flying (but would a jacket help with an operational seat upgrade?) and slip on shoes so it’s easy to move through the security process. I also don’t carry keys or change when flying so there is nothing to set off the scanner.

Easy access to my electronic devices is another plus. I like to pack all the gadgets I’ll need on the flight in a separate wash style bag so all I need to take out is the one bag for the security scanner and any laptop(s). Yes a tablet or iPad does count and needs to be removed from the bag, as I witnessed last week some guy got a grilling over the contents of his carryon for having a iPad2 in there.

Making it personal

I personally don’t work on a flight unless I really have to; I like to take a book I’m reading or latest magazine subscription. Music is good but a lot of airlines don’t let you use headphones or while taxiing or at take-off and landing so good reading material is essential.

If I do feel like sleeping on the plane then ear plugs are a must for me, noise cancelling headphones are great but I find them uncomfortable to sleep in and earplugs are cheap. Some of the better airlines carry them if you ask the cabin staff as well as eye masks.

I usually take several devices with me for the flight. I know most smartphones have an mp3 player capacity but how many also last 8 hours+? I still find a dedicated mp3 player, phone, netbook and handheld gaming device to be the best of all worlds. I always like to have enough to keep me occupied if I find I can’t sleep.

Top Tips

• Plan your itinerary.
• Make a list of useful numbers, both in your phone and in your bag.
• Have multiple forms of payment in different currencies, cash is still king in most places.
• Know your airports and the airport procedures for security.
• Know the correct boarder control procedure.
• Have a routine, you’ll feel better if it feels normal.
• Personalise the travel time with music, books or movies you like.

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