Travel for work? Our tourism and hospitality writer, Kate Gibbs, explains the 9 smart habits you should get acquainted with for smooth sailing (and flying).
The jet-setter lifestyle is all-around fabulous. A job where you get to fly across the world with a handsome bag as your companion is the epitome of the work-life balance for many.
See the world, explore exotic places on your days off, arise in a new bed every day. But only the savviest world commuters keep the dream fresh for long. A stolen wallet or one too many dreary hotels, a dose of stress without your closest people on hand and home seems very sweet after all.
To really work, play and want to stay, smart travel habits are essential. Here’s nine tips for smooth business travel and to improve your travelling experience as a whole.
1. Pack your carry on with style
Avoid harsh air conditioning and conservative dress codes in foreign places by also carrying a pashmina or scarf in your bag. Use it as an accessory, throw it over your shoulders and use it as a cover on the plane.
Another must-have in the carry on: a small pharmacy. Wave away seasickness, food poisoning, jet lag, constipation and other physical mishaps with staples from the chemist. Include natural remedies such as ginger root pills.
You may as well look the part as well. Use hand cream, face moisturiser, lip balm and even face spray in the air to arrive at your destination fresh every time. Have a good stock of travel-appropriate sized supplies.
2. Eat well
Even Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t consume all the luxuries offered to her while flying, or travelling.
Be selective in the name of your health, and to arrive feeling fresh. According to an interview with The New York Times, Gwyneth takes a few careful rules to heart. “I drink tons of water, and I have a vitamin sachet that I put in it. Also, I moisturise my skin and put on a mask. I try not to eat rubbish either. I’ll pack a salad and fruit. If I’m going on an overnight flight, I’ll drink whiskey or a glass of wine and then go to sleep, but on day flights, I try not to drink. When I land, I try to find a sauna to sit in for 20 minutes to help me sweat out all the germs from the plane.”
3. Be a pro at hotel rooms
Booking the right room is one thing, getting an upgrade with your smart talk or bonus points is a great boost to any trip. But expert travellers take further steps every time they move into a hotel room.
Nothing ruins a hotel stay more than a poor night’s sleep, and that’s guaranteed when the previous guest’s early alarm wakes you up before you’re ready. Five star hotels should check this matter of course, but experts are not prepared to take that risk. Schedule a wake-up call via the concierge for yourself, you may as well use the luxuries you have available.
While you’re setting up (short-term) house, don’t use the water glasses by the sink in your room. Unlike the glasses that are used for room service, the glasses in the rooms are often wiped clean by housekeeping.
4. Don’t suffer in silence
The hotel industry is out to please, so don’t suffer in silence and let only Twitter in on your misery. Social media can’t remedy the lack of fresh towels for you.
Let the hotel make you happy, they respond to customers who raise concerns first. But that doesn’t give you an excuse to become an insufferable and greedy bore about it either - pick your battles and the things you really need to remedy to make your stay more enjoyable.
5. Learn the basics of the native language
There may be no hiding the fact that you’re not from around here, but being able to say a simple “thank you” or “please” in the language of your destination is just good manners. Plus, it’s bound to get you closer to where you want to be. Brush up on the basics before you embark on your journey. A little effort goes a long way.
6. Never over pack
Gwyneth only does carry-on unless she’s travelling somewhere really cold, and this way of thinking definitely makes the journey a lot lighter.
Streamline your luggage to carry on, and if you can’t, then don’t fill your suitcase to its maximum. It makes traipsing over cobblestone a lot easier, plus it leaves room for all-important souvenirs.
7. Keep a diary
If you’re one of the lucky few who have the chance to travel for work, keep record of what you do. Keep a diary. Take photographs. Note the details both big and small.
But don’t keep your face buried in Instagram and Facebook making notes on each trip – you’ll miss the doing, for all the communication-keeping.
8. Take public transportation
There’s no better way to get a feel for the full scope of the place you’re in than by taking public transport.
Buses give you an elevated view of the back streets, communities and interesting nooks you must discover another day. Trains also introduce you to the locals who live there. Sit opposite other commuters for 20 minutes from A to B, and you learn a lot about where you are.
9. Be professional, even away from home
You may be in another world, but turning up to meetings on time, arriving fresh-faced just as you would at home, remains as important as ever when you travel for work.
Get the clocks right, take a weekend nap to get over jet lag, find your morning coffee stop the day before, and arrive prepped and ready to go as you would any other day in the professional world.
After hours, though, it’s a different story. Your usual commute just got much more interesting.
Want to travel for work? Explore careers in Tourism and Hospitality here.
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