I love to travel*.
This is a very good thing because in my professional role I spend a significant amount of time on the road visiting current and prospective clients. So many people dread travel and don’t believe me when I tell them that I truly do enjoy it.
I think I have cracked the code and identified why I love what so many loathe – I have figured out how to travel right. Below are a few nuggets of insight and some noted irritants I have picked up along the way.
- On an airplane, stay away from the guy who insists on taking his shoes off. I don’t care what they say about helping with jetlag, but this isn’t your living room and it’s uncalled for. Now, if you’re transcontinental and in first class, they should let you take off whatever you want.
- When booking a hotel, find one closer to some things you might enjoy when you have some down time rather than the location of your next morning’s meetings. If you like to shop, book near a mall. When in Birmingham, AL I generally stay in an area that is really close to the zoo – I have never been but I kind of like the idea that I might.
- Know what makes you comfortable and plan ahead. Do you sleep with a fan at home? Most hotels can accommodate or find a small travel fan. Special diet? Locate a grocery or market near your hotel; most hotels have refrigerators in each room.
- Google is your friend! Well, not really but is really helpful when planning a business trip. Do a search for restaurants or attractions before you head out. Give yourself something to do rather than sitting in a hotel room.
- If you travel to the same place frequently, do what I do – find the hotel you like and sometimes even a specific room you like. I prefer the ground floor when possible, no real reason but it’s what I like. Don’t fall for the ‘fancy’ hotels – a good Hampton Inn or Embassy Suites will get a great location and even better value.
- Back to airplanes – don’t be the one to drag the Philly Cheese Steak (or whatever equally pungent dish) on board for everyone to smell for the duration. I know there are desperate times, but avoid if at all possible.
- Check a bag!!! I know the fee stinks, but seriously it can make your trip so much less hectic. Bags to miss planes or get loss so there is a risk, but this really happens quite rarely. With a checked bag you don’t have the rush to get on the plane to find a spot, the anxiety around whether or not your bag will fit – and think how much quicker your plane could leave it didn’t 30 minutes for everyone to find somewhere to cram a bag.
- Know your airports. Again, the web is a great tool in this area. Know where the rental car returns are, what is the setup for where security’s location, check in online to locate where your gate location. This will remove anxiety and allow you to be more accurate with the time you will actually need to get through the process. I love to people watch but there is little worse than sitting in an airport for an hour or more.
- Find friends. Whether it be through social media or another means; locate someone to catch up with over a meal or a drink. Feeling lonely on the road is a real emotion, and it can really bring you down.
- Travel by car when possible. Though it may not be actually true, when you travel by car you feel an element of traveling on your schedule. Stopping where and when you want. Besides, with the issues that can arise from air travel it may not take you that much longer to drive – and probably less expensive!.
- Drinking and eating. There is a huge misnomer about business trips and people going out for a bunch of cocktails. I find it really doesn’t happen much and it’s recommended you avoid alcohol. Too much alcohol will make already difficult travel absolutely miserable. Also, eat well – don’t go out and eat a bunch of junk just because no one is around to tell you not to. Feeling well will improve your outlook on travel and your professional effectiveness.
Please know that these are the tactics that work for me, and how I have turned a necessary evil into an experience that can be enjoyed. If you have to do it, might as well do it right!
*Though I do love travel – nothing beats being at home with my wife and kids.