I love my job and the fun and variety it offers but I do spend a lot of time on the road away from home delivering training & coaching. Business travel can be tiring and difficult so I wanted to share with you my tips, ideas and experiences from 20 years on the road.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveller like me and want to relate to the travellers guide below or you have a trip coming up and want to ensure it goes well, here are my top tips for business travel, enjoy:
Packing, Preparing and Booking
- When travelling by car buy some cheap water from the supermarket. I always have a good supply of water in my car as hotel water can be expensive (usually 6×2 litre bottles or one or two 5 litre bottles and I decant as I go). Hydration is king. Resist the junk food urge too. Fruit, veg and brown carbs give better energy for longer. Even motorway services do soup and a brown roll.
- Don’t trust hotel alarm calls. Take it from someone who has been late in the past when using this method. A well-charged phone is the best alarm.
- If you give me more than three cups of coffee in one day I usually end up a gibbering mess (apologies to those of you that have seen this!). A recent thing for me is to take a stash of decaf tea & green tea with me. Refer to my earlier ‘hydration is king’ point.
- Any bottles (and they should be plastic) that are in your case – seal them in plastic bags. If your case has a rough journey and bottles break they will not ruin your clothing or other items.
- Check dietary requirements – if you have allergies, or special dietary need, speak to the hotel in advance. If they can prepare in advance for these things it is one less thing to worry about.
- If you are going to arrive late – after 6pm on the day of check in I always find it useful to ring ahead and speak to reception and confirm I will be there and at what time. Some hotels will resell rooms after a certain time and I can tell you there is nothing worse than arriving late 10-11pm or later to be told there is no room at the inn. Even the top hotels do this
- Try and pack light. One example is I always take samples away with me rather than a large bottle of toiletries.
- When I pack I mentally go through each day and evening that I’m away and use that as a checklist.
- If you’re a regular traveller always collect your points and always stay on top of them. I have enjoyed a few nights away for free with my family this year as a result.
- Always take your gym stuff and a swimming costume even if you don’t think you’re going to use it – it’s a good thing to have and it weighs nothing.
- If (like me) you like to exercise get a satellite view of the hotel from maps as this can help pick out a suitable walking or running route.
- Download your favourite programs to your laptop before travelling – it’s always better viewing than watching Freeview. If this doesn’t bother you a handy website (which is also an app) is http://tvguide.co.uk
- If you’ve stayed somewhere before and you found a room you liked make a note of the number then ask for it again when returning.
- To prevent being disturbed ask for a hotel room away from any lifts, stairs and internal doors. Also if you get a higher room in the city centre hotels you will be further away from noise on the road below. I always ask for a room at the back of the hotel as it’s generally quieter.
In your hotel
- One thing I notice in a hotel room is there are lots of little red lights that can be a distraction when trying to sleep. I cover these up where possible. I also roll up a bath towel up and put it at the bottom of the room door as this blocks external light
- Purchasing an eye mask and earplugs is a very good ideaa
- Always unpack immediately and don’t live out of a suitcase. I find this more relaxing when away from home.
- Don’t eat the biscuits in your room late at night as the sugar will keep you awake.
- I always turn the television off at 10.30-11.00pm to avoid the temptation of late night viewing. A rested traveller is a traveller that performs.
- Always try to check in or out from hotels away from busy times. There’s nothing worse than a queue of tired angry people.
- Make friends with the people at reception they usually have all of the local knowledge and answers you need.
- If you’re staying at a different hotel to where you’re working or the venue you’re attending then find out the journey time and the best route including public transport. I saved myself loads of time by getting the tram in Manchester.
- Upon arrival get to know your room’s air conditioning & heating system immediately and set it to what you’re familiar with. I learned this from experience when I had a few drinks with colleagues and left my heating on full blast. The next morning was very unpleasant!
Trains and Planes
- When travelling by train always go for the quiet carriage – this is a much more peaceful environment and you get the opportunity to tut at those on their phones.
- When travelling by train always dress warm or have something you can pop on. For me it’s always a v neck jumper in my laptop bag
- Always have one of those airport security plastic bags in your laptop case. That way you never get caught out having to buy them at airports. I always put my toiletries in an easily accessible place in my suitcase such as the front pocket
- If you travel by plane it’s best to have a routine for the various things that you have to do at security, it’s amazing how much time you can save. Always be looking out for the queue that doesn’t contain the rookies or disorganised. My routine is almost like a dance and is as follows:
- Always be scanning for the best queue
- Grab two trays and elbow yourself some space
- Lap top & bag (on bottom), phone, any other electricals in one tray
- Toiletries in pre-prepared easily accessible bag, pocket change, watch and belt off last in other tray
- Go through metal detector (pray they don’t ask you to take your shoes off!)
- Grab both trays & move as far away from bottle-necks as possible and re-assemble
Research is the key to relaxed travelling. Whenever you get the chance familiarise yourself with where you’re going. I use Tripadvisor but I have been known to ring hotels in advance and ask questions. I’ve always found being positive, polite and friendly goes a long way too. It’s no wonder my partner ‘affectionately’ calls me irritatingly organised!
These are my tips and I’m sure you’ll have more to make life and work away from home easier. I’d love to hear them so get in touch.