In a former life, I spent more than twenty years working internationally. I spent more time in airports, railway stations and hotels than I did in the office. If you are one of those people for whom travel is part of the working day, here are a few tricks I learned along the way to make the experience a more positive one.
Planning To Travel
Have a master planning list on your computer. List everything you might want to take, including both summer and winter wardrobe and divided into sections (clothes, toiletries, documents etc). Then each time a trip is planned, run off a copy and delete the non-essentials.
Have a travel pack of toiletries, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals etc ready in the cupboard. Buy the smallest pack available to minimise the weight.
Prepare a template for a contact form on which you can record travel details (flights, trains etc), hotel information, business contacts and (for overseas trips) embassy details. This is invaluable not only for family and work colleagues, but also when you are trying to complete an immigration form and can’t remember the name of your hotel!
Once a trip is on the horizon, think about travel requirements. If you make your own arrangements, book flights as early as possible to increase choice and reduce costs. Do you need a visa? What about inoculations – are all your shots up to date?
Pack on the day of travel, not the day before, even if it means getting up a bit earlier. With your packing list to hand, it won’t take long and it will save the traveling intruding on your last day at home.
If you are flying, pack as lightly as possible. You can always use the hotel laundry if you run out of clean clothes. Even in these days of increased security, traveling with just hand luggage makes for a easier, quicker trip. But make sure your bag has wheels.
Airport bureaux de change do not offer a good rate of exchange, so avoid using them for all your currency needs. However, do make sure you have enough cash for taxis and porters when you first arrive.
Use spare moments, like airport waiting time, to write that report, answer that email or make that call, so you will have more free time when you get home.
Don’t expect everything to go to plan – and the further you are from home, the truer that becomes. Have a contingency plan – and go with the flow.
Relax and enjoy the opportunities that traveling for work provide, whether it’s seeing a different state or country, trying some new cuisine or making new friends.
If the trip is likely to be a difficult one, allow yourself a treat each night for achieving another day. (I found that mini-bags of chocolate buttons worked well.)
When you return home, remember that for those left behind, life has gone on – with the same problems and triumphs as normal. Be prepared to listen as well as talk.
Traveling for work can be difficult and tiring, but it can also be a great opportunity. Use some of these tips and make sure you have the chance to enjoy the trip.
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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