Last quarter alone, our team of business growth coaches traveled to see 27 different clients in various states across the US (and even a few in Europe.) Not counting personal travel or travel for our own monthly meetings and the two conferences we attended to keep smart, our coaches traveled over 55,000 miles via planes, trains and automobiles from October to December just to see clients!
With all the travel time they log, it is incredible to me that our coaching team can still be so focused and effective. For me, even a trip out of town for the weekend to see family or friends can be frazzling with all the stresses of air travel, time differences, interruption to my normal diet, sleep and exercise routines...
Considering this, I had to find out from our coaching team their secrets to staying sane during busy travel times. Thank you to business growth coaches Liz McBride, Alan Gehringer, and Ted Skinner for sharing your best advice with us.
Here are their top business travel tips:
- Get the right gear: Read this travel guide for all the best products to make travel easier. I use the earplugs, REI pillow and now the eye mask. Also, I have some of the Eagle Creek stuff and the Tumi roller bag which they used to recommend.
- Double up plugs: Invest in second sets of technology plugs. (I love Brookstone's 4-in-one plug with several extensions), an international converter, PC plug, ear buds, dongle (projector connector, if needed), etc. Keep them all organized in a travel bag and never use them unless you are on the road. This gives you less chance of getting up in front of a room full of people and not having your dongle while your Mac is losing power.
- Double up toiletries: Keep a second bag of fully stocked toiletries and leave it in your suitcase. I create a one-time inventory list and leave it in the bag and will occasionally use it to check off that I don't need to restock.
- International tips: Ladies, invest in a cheap hair dryer, flat iron or curling iron in the country where you're traveling so you don't blow a fuse. My flat iron with converter was too high of a voltage for that country, and I looked like 80's Bon Jovi for a week. Also, take a picture of your passport and other important documents so you don't have to dig in your bag to locate your passport number for customs paperwork.
- Schedule smart: Avoid evening flights in the summer as many storms pop up during that time. If you have flexibility, fly out early the next morning. Avoid connections with less than an hour in between flights...not worth the risk.
- Take the time to get TSA Pre-Check / Global Entry for all airlines... It's worth the money and time, especially with international travel. You will enjoy pre-9/11 security scans (leave your shoes on and computers in the bag), and for international flights, you can simply scan your hand and passport in a kiosk when you re-enter the country.
- Be prepared: For day trips, use a small to medium roller bag to house your laptop, change of clothes and toiletries. You never know when you'll get stuck. Pack snacks for those stuck on the tarmac times. Save your dry cleaning plastic bags and pack your hanging clothes in them...for some strange reason, clothes never wrinkle in those things.
- Plan ahead: Pack for yourself like you would for a child on a long car ride. Download a movie on your iPad or tablet, bring the book you have been meaning to read, have your laptop charged and ready if you can use the time to do work, or just use the time to walk around the airport and get some exercise. All of these ideas are more fun, and healthy, than sitting there and stewing.
- Always be nice to the people that work at the desk. Offer to get them a coffee if you are headed to Starbucks. I have yet to have one take me up on the offer, but have sat in first class or the exit row many times just by showing a simple act of kindness. Remember they get blamed all day long for things that are out of their control, such as weather and airplane maintenance. A friendly smile, thank you and a simple gesture go a long way to making their day - which can help make yours, too.
- Pack your funny bone in YOUR CARRY ON BAG. Travel stinks, plane and simple. Prepare mentally for the worst and just enjoy it the best you can. Getting upset is counterproductive for all.
Hopefully, these expert traveler tips will help you save some sanity on your next business trip. If you are a weary traveler in need of some comic relief, check out the book Just Plane Funny; our team heard author Tim Gard speak at the Secret Service Summit in Cleveland this fall, and he had us all rolling with his hilarious travel antics.