If you’re anything like me, you have a love/hate relationship with business travel. Of course, it’s always great to go someplace different, experience the culture, try new and exciting cuisine, and meet awesome people– but long flights, airplane food, and dingy hotels are all things I can live without.
On the plus side, after traveling quite a bit for both business and pleasure, you tend to develop a sense of how to do it better, avoiding all the downsides of travel. Here’s some of my favorite tricks of the trade:
1. Protect your belongings both on and offline
As many of us have learned the hard way, being a foreigner basically means you are a walking target for theft in both the physical and virtual sense. For example, while at the Eiffel Tower, I was asked to sign a charitable petition, but I hesitated because something didn’t sit right to me. I later found out it was a scam, and others who fell for it were pick-pocketed as they signed.
While I was fortunate to detect the crime before it happened, cyber theft is much more subtle. Like the conventional thief, cyber criminals are looking for the most vulnerable individuals: i.e. ones not familiar with the culture, or lacking awareness of where they are to steal sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers bank information and more.
Having such information stolen from you certainly turns any pleasant getaway, into a disaster. That’s why it’s essential for us to take necessary precautions. I personally use SaferVPN while I browse the Internet in coffee shops, hotels, airports and other locations with unsecured public Wi-Fi networks. The tool allows me to browse the Internet with a completely secure and private connection, so I can catch up with work anywhere and rest assured that all my passwords, personal information and email correspondences are fully protected.
2. Pack light
There’s absolutely nothing worse than that sinking feeling you get when you can’t find your luggage. In an instant you feel like everything you own is gone, regardless of the fact that it is only a small portion of your belongings.
In contrast, if you are one of the fortunate travelers whose items come forth early on the conveyer belt, you are then stuck pushing around bulky, cumbersome luggage–at least until you can find a cab. But we all know local transport is part of the travel experience. As such, it’s more than a little bit of a bummer when you’re not able to explore like the locals.
So, either way you look at it, there is zero benefit to bringing lots of luggage. To avoid this, pack light enough to put all your belongings into carry on. This way, you get off that plane fast, keep all of your belongings in one place, and are free to travel wherever whenever.
3. Tour spontaneously
Travel guides give you all the details on the conventional destinations in a given area. By reading one, you might discover an abundance of information on a place’s history, classical art, and famous architecture. While this is all well and good, you may never actually find out what makes that culture tick today, which in my opinion, takes away from your overall experience.
So get off the grid by befriending locals, walking down the street and discovering local treasures. Simply walk into a local restaurant and find out what types of food people eat, and ask the waiters and waitresses about the best nightlife, markets, and local shops.
If you need a bit more of a guide, there are some great apps out there to give you all the lowdown on the city you’re visiting. If it’s food you crave, try LocalEats, an app that helps you discover the best independently owned eateries. For advice on local activities, use Spotted by Locals, an app which is written by residents in order to help tourists find the hottest hangouts in the city. These apps are especially great for business travelers who may not have the time to go on an organized tour, but still want to have an experience.
4. Travel in style
With the world becoming smaller every day, more and more inventions are being created to make the process of travel easier and more convenient. If you are an avid traveler, I definitely suggest checking out some of the latest new gadgets and travel accessories.
In addition to packing, another challenge in travel, at least for many of us, is of course sleep. I personally find that with my head and neck in awkward positions, I simply can’t comfortable enough to fall asleep. Of course, if you’re traveling for business, showing up tired the next day is not ideal. So I bought the J Pillow, which supports my head, neck, and chin in order to make sleep come easier. This way, I wake up refreshed and ready to take on a day of meetings.
Lastly, my worst nightmare when traveling is losing my phone, keys or something else of value. That’s why I love the Nokia Treasure Tag. This simple device attaches to any object, like keys for example, and it will alert your phone if you forget it. This way, I never lose sight of my favorite things and I am freed up to travel with ease.
Traveling can be stressful. But, if done right, it can be an unbelievable experience where you learn new things, discover different cultures, and gain fresh perspectives that can take you further in both business and life in general.