Here are some truly excellent business travel hacks from our ambassador, Ross Jennings (A.K.A The First Piper). Ross is on a quest to play the bagpipes in every country around the world. He travels on business (and leisure / record-breaking) on a regular basis and he's a packing, travel hacks black belt. Ross shares some key knowledge and experience from his travels.
Keep valuables in one section of your carry-on bag (in case you’re asked to check it in last minute). Having designated locations for those certain items also means they’re less likely to get lost. Better yet, if you’re bag splits in two (has a compartment that zips off) then use that sensibly. Fortunately (shameless plug here) all our carry-ons have just that. My personal fave is the ‘Cabin Mate.’
Constantly being on the move means that your chances of experiencing cancelled or delayed flights significantly increases. Having a backup set of clothing (underwear and socks for sure!) means that if you’re stuck in a hotel without your baggage, you can at least feel slightly fresh when you set off again. There’s nothing more grim than the feeling of two-day underwear when you’re in a meeting.
Schedule in some downtime
Business trips have hectic schedules, so make sure you can factor in some down time - even if it only last for 30 minutes. Whether this involves being a tourist for a small portion of your day or checking in to your hotel spa, it will give you something to look forward to, and will help you wind down. It may even boost your productivity.
Eye plugs and eye masks
Not all airlines provide them, and even if they do you don’t know where they may have been! Carry a spare set of ear plugs and an eye mask for a slightly improved nap. Sleeping on the move is doable, but it’s nearly impossible when you pair is up with screaming babies and open blinds.
New foods or alcohol
Unless you have an iron stomach and exceptionally strong constitution, avoid new foods or drinks that are potentially going to upset your system. At the end of the day you’re not on holiday, and it would be mighty embarrassing if you had to keep running to the toilet mid-meeting.
Get to know the staff
It goes without saying that you should be extra polite to hospitality staff, ground staff and air staff. Going a step further and learning people’s names goes a long way. If you travel regular routes, go to the same hotel or even if you’re staying somewhere for a few days, creating a sense of familiarity will make the business trip a lot more enjoyable and you might even find you benefit from an upgrade to two.
Get connected when you land
Make sure your 4G and phone signal are up to scratch as soon as you’re off the plane. If not, buy a local SIM card at the airport. Being disconnected can be pretty detrimental to a business trip, and you may find getting a SIM card is difficult when you’ve already left the airport. Some countries have strict rules on temporary SIM cards, which means buying them in regular stores is time difficult or costly. You’ll be saving time if you organise it as soon as you arrive, or better yet, get your local contact to pre-arrange it.
Get a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Nothing destroys a business trip than not being able to access emails, documents or certain websites. From Skype calls and Facetime in the Middle East, to social media sights and gmail in China. There’s an alarming amount of prohibited stuff out there. Get a VPN and make sure it’s up and running before you arrive - you’ll also have the added benefit of streaming your home TV from wherever you are in the world!