Monday, May 1, 2017

Survival Tips for the Extreme Business Traveler

In what could be called the official movie of the business road warrior — 2009's "Up in the Air" — executive Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) is on a flight when the crew announces he has just passed the 10 million-mile mark. A surprise champagne celebration is thrown, and the airline's chief pilot comes out of the cockpit to meet him.

I'm no Ryan Bingham (or George Clooney for that matter), but I travel enough to relate. When I walked up to a hotel registration desk in Vienna, Austria, recently, the clerk already knew me by name and greeted me like an old friend. As I checked in, he congratulated me on just having reached the chain's top elite status.

That's how it is when you live in San Antonio, Texas, and work for a company based in Vienna, with a U.S. headquarters in Seattle and customers to visit around the world. I average two to three weeks a month on the road.

All that criss-crossing the globe and living out of a suitcase have taught me survival skills as an extreme business traveler – how to manage both the travel itself and its effect on life outside work.

Here are things I do to help things go more smoothly.

Taking care of the home front

Unlike Ryan Bingham, who was single and happily pursued his peripatetic ways unfettered by family obligations, I have a wife and teenage stepdaughter. Balancing family and business travel commitments is one of the central challenges of this lifestyle. How do you handle it?

To start, make sure you're on the same page with your spouse and family – that is, they understand why all the hopping on planes is necessary and worthwhile. You need to be proactive in staving off resentment over the stuff at home you're inevitably going to miss.

Be creative. Explore possibilities to take your spouse along on trips or to schedule family vacations around them. This can transform, say, the days before or after a trade conference in San Francisco into opportunities for family memories.

Use video apps like Facetime and Skype to stay in close touch with family – they provide immediacy that didn't exist for road warriors of the past. I take advantage of this technology at least once a day when I'm on the road, usually more.

And don't forget the value of the "make-up trip." This year, I missed Valentine's Day at home, but was able to take my wife to Key West a few weeks later.

At the airport

Always try to park in the same spot in the garage. Take a picture of the location. Nothing is more frustrating than coming home after an extended trip and forgetting which floor you parked on.

Make sure you're signed up for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. TSA PreCheck's special security lanes mean shorter waits and not having to take your shoes off or your laptop out. Global Entry provides the same expedited entry through U.S. Customs when you return from a foreign country. TSA PreCheck costs $85; Global Entry is $100. Status for both lasts five years. They're worth every penny.

Airport lounges are great places to refresh and recharge your batteries (both literally and figuratively) during layovers and delays. If your frequent flyer status isn't sufficient for access, it's worth the annual fee to belong to at least one of the big names. Additionally, check with your credit card providers, as they may have deals.

On the plane

Try to carry on your bag when at all possible. If you check luggage, carry on your essentials and a change of clothes. You never know when you'll have a misplaced bag or delayed flights.

Always accept the water when offered. Even if you're not thirsty, you are going to get dehydrated on the plane.

Never eat airline food, unless you're really desperate. It's lousy and over-priced. Plan ahead.

It's nice if you can get work done on the plane, but don't plan on it. With the cramped leg room on most flights, all it takes is the guy in front of you to recline his seat to send your laptop crashing into your chest.

At the destination

Beware the hotel room trap. It's easy, out of an inability to mentally break out of work mode or simply boredom, to just keep banging away on the keyboard. Meanwhile, you might be missing the cherry blossoms in Washington or a Beethoven concert in London. So take some time for yourself. Leave the hotel, see the sights, get to know the city you're visiting.

Eat right. It's convenient to order room service or grab fast food, but not particularly healthy or interesting. I always look for a market selling fresh food or a restaurant offering local cuisine.

Figure out what works for you to recover from jet lag. For me, keeping well hydrated and getting sleep on the plane prepares me for time zone changes.

Following these tips, heavy business travelers can stay well-grounded no matter how often they're up in the air.



from Business 2 Community http://www.business2community.com/travel-leisure/survival-tips-extreme-business-traveler-01834194


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