31 May 2015

I travel for work, a lot. People ask me how I do it, and I shrug. I don’t mind travel, so what’s the big deal. Schipholoffice

What people forget, however, is that business travel is not holiday travel. Holiday travel is exhausting and uncomfortable, but exciting and fun and worth it. Because it’s a holiday. When traveling for work, without the fun and excitement, you’ll be left with the exhausting and uncomfortable part if you’re not careful. So over the years, I have developed the following rules to make business travel not only doable, but actually enjoyable.

Rule number 1: Be a princess

You travel for work, not for pleasure. That means that the travel itself needs to be pleasurable, or at least as comfortable as possible. This comes at a price, so your budget will probably limit your imagined royalty status. But make sure to spend it: on first/business class, on comfortable hotels, on taxis, on 24-hour wifi (don’t think, just pay). Stay in charge of your travel. Go for upgrades, ask for a better hotel room. Solo travellers are often put in the worst rooms. They know it, you know it, just don’t accept it.

Rule number 2: Conserve your energy

Travel light and allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. There’s no need to start your journey already exhausted by carrying heavy cases or sprinting for trains. Invest in a good trolley: light, good wheels, easy access to laptop and liquids. Join fast-track schemes at airports, nothing drains you more than spending half your time in noisy queues. Don’t wander around in duty free. Find a quiet place, sit down, set your alarm for when you need to go to the gate. Ideally, use the lounge. If you don’t have access yourself, tag along with a colleague who does.

Rule number 3: Be yourself

Make yourself at home: unpack your suitcase, switch on your favourite music instead of CNN, get food and drink supplies from the local supermarket. Stick to your routines. Be safe: use the hotel safe for your valuables. Always leave one bank card behind in the hotel, so you can still get cash in case you get pick-pocketed. Use the chain on the door. If there isn’t one: use a door stop, don’t travel without one.

Rule number 4: Stay fit

Use the hotel gym, go for a walk, make sure to get some fresh air: the best cure for jet lag and travel fatigue in general. I never travel without my running gear, there’s always time for a 30 minute run. Organised sight-seeing runs are ideal if you have the time. Eat well, don’t pig out, have fruit and unsalted nuts at hand as snacks. Order a side of vegetables or side salad, always.

Rule number 5: Enjoy!

You won’t survive if you don’t enjoy yourself. Stick to the ‘one-hour-minimum’ rule, even if that means a later flight home. One hour minimum to walk around, with a camera. If there’s more time, a quick visit to a museum or exhibition. Or a little shopping :-) Don’t stay cooped up in your hotel room catching up on email: get out there, and enjoy the privilege of travelling the world for work!

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