Business travel is exciting and glamorous, right? Wrong. For most people it’s just a chore, a misery, a pain in the ass. If you’re unlucky you’re forced to travel at odd times of night and day. If you’re not careful it’ll eat into your weekends. And all you usually see of a foreign country is the airport, a hotel room and maybe an office building, so anonymous and magnolia-dull that they could be anywhere on the planet, Manchester to Mumbai.
If you can’t avoid travelling for business, how can you make the whole experience as painless as possible? Here are our ten tips for making the most of business travel.
How to make the most of business travel
- It’s surprising how many experts recommend simple kindness, politeness and patience as their top tip for business travel. It seems like the nicer you are, the better your experience will be. It makes sense because airport and aeroplane staff, who often have to put up with people being rude and ignorant, genuinely appreciate someone who’s calm and chilled, polite and nice. If there are good things going, whether it’s first class travel arrangements, an upgrade to better seats, a nicer hotel room or whatever, they’ll almost always be offered to the kindest, politest person.
- Stand up for yourself and be firm. If you have to travel as part of your job make sure you’re not forced to fly at antisocial times of day or night, or worse still made to use up some of your weekend, for example leaving for the airport on a Sunday night. You’re not being a pain, you’re just making the best of a bad job, protecting your emotional, mental and physical health.
- Remember to charge all your gadgets fully before you leave the house, so you don’t have to faff around trying to charge them at the airport, on the plane, in the hotel or on your way to a meeting.
- Soft foam disposable earplugs are an excellent move, especially if your employers need you to travel economy and you’re stuck on last minute flights with excited holidaymakers and yelling children. They’re a lot cheaper, smaller, neater and easier to wear/replace than ordinary earphones.
- Make the most of private airport lounges, where you pay a few quid for inclusive peace and quiet, snacks and drinks, newspapers, TV, WiFi and so on, protected from the madding crowds on the concourse.
- Know the difference between ‘direct’ and ‘non-stop’ flights. Direct flights tend to stop part-way for a break or to refuel. You might even have to change planes. But non-stop flights are exactly that – they take you straight there with no stops.
- Human beings are not designed to sit down for long periods of time, but it’s difficult to avoid on a long flight. Luckily a simple, cheap tennis ball is a great item to keep you from stiffening up. Just roll it around under your thighs and feet, and squeeze it with your hands, and it’ll help prevent stiffness and sore muscles.
- Pack light, and pack mix ‘n’ match outfits so you don’t need to carry a pantechnicon abroad with you. The less you have to carry, the better. You could even keep a special business travel case permanently packed so it’s always ready for you to grab and run out of the door.
- Apparently if you’re well dressed and smart you’re much more likely to be offered an upgrade if the plane isn’t full than if you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. So get your sartorial act together just in case the opportunity arises.
- How to avoid jet lag? Everyone deals with jet lag differently. What’s your best way to get back to normal quickly? As a general rule it helps to stick to the time zone at your destination and eat when they eat, sleep when they sleep. If you can swing an overnight flight, make sure you sleep on the plane so you’re adequately rested when you get there, no matter what the local time is when you land.
What’s your best business travel tip?
If you’re a seasoned business traveller, what’s your best survival tip?