Have you put in your miles? I have.
I’ve done over 100,000 miles "up there," every year for close to a decade. I’ll often tell people that it’s nothing to be proud of. The fundamental difference in my travel (when compared to many other businesspeople who have to travel) is that I travel so many miles, because I refuse to stay out on the road for anything beyond a day (or two, if it’s absolutely essential). So, while others can spend weeks on the road or several nights away from their families, I’ve strategized and prioritized my life so that I can be home as much as physically possible. This means that I’ll often put my body through its paces, but I’d rather have the physical toll put on my body than the psychological toll of knowing I was never there for my family. A small price to pay.
So, what’s the trick?
Most people want to know the best tips and tricks for business travel. They want to know about things like the best piece of carry-on luggage (buy Eagle Creek) or how to deal with delays (always have a book on you – or, in my case, my iPhone with the Kindle and Kobo app) or tricks on how to race through security and customs (get Nexus, Global Entry or be TSA Pre). As I was sitting in the lounge waiting for my flight today, I walked by the bathroom. I wasn’t desperate for a bathroom, but I went anyways. Whenever I cross the border, I fill out the declaration form the night before. I will always check into my flight as soon as possible, and have the boarding pass on me. I keep a separate set of toiletries for travel, so that I don’t have to constantly pack and unpack stuff like a toothbrush or floss. Anything that can be done in advance and then not be something to think about, I’ll do. Even going to the bathroom, before I really have to go. It got me thinking. The best piece of business travel advice is this: if the opportunity is in front of you, take it.
Don’t wait for later. Don’t put it off. If it’s there, don’t waste it.
Travel is complex. People love to blame the airlines for everything, but there are so many moving parts in getting a plane off of the ground and safely to its destination. There is the airport authority, security, customs, airlines, weather, baggage handlers and much more. It’s a system that is extremely fragile and temperamental. There have been multiple instances, when I would not eat at the lounge thinking that I would just grab a bite once I arrived, only to have multiple delays and problems. This leads to a late night arrival, a high level of hunger and the need to get a good night’s sleep. Brutal. So, while I don’t chow down on a meal whenever there is food in front of me, having a light snack (because it’s there) or stuffing my bag with a fruit or bretzels (because it’s there) makes sense. If there’s a clean and quiet bathroom… take advantage of it. Need something to read and there’s a newsstand in front of you? Don’t wait for later, grab that magazine. It may sound simple enough, but when I see how angry passengers react in a not-so-great moment from the aviation annals, my guess is that they may behave slightly better if they’ve had some food, been to the bathroom and had something to pass the time during that bad moment. I know, I’m a dreamer.
But seriously, think about it.
The next time you’re travelling (business or pleasure), if there’s something in front of you, take advantage of it. Don’t think it will be there later or that you can take care of it after. Much of what happens in the airport and on the plane is completely out of your control, and it doesn’t care much for your best laid plans.
True story: this piece of business travel advice is equally applicable in almost everything that you do in your life. What’s your best piece of business travel advice?