As in Successful Business — the Key to Survival is Planning!
Travelling on business always sounds glamourous – until you have to do lots of it! Airport lounges, un-air conditioned taxis, airline food, early mornings, late nights, business lunches and dinners, uncomfortable hotel beds and pillows, lost luggage… But don’t despair, if you plan well you can reduce the stress of travel, be effective in meetings and you might even enjoy the experience! After 20 years in the airline and travel industry, I have collected these tips and suggestions from my own experiences and from my colleagues and customers. This is the first article in a series of four – I hope some of these simple tips will help you get more from your travel.
Planning – Before You Travel
Get a great travel agent! A travel agent you can trust with all your arrangements, who understands and anticipates your needs, will reduce much of the pain of itinerary planning and getting confirmed bookings when and where you want them.
For Domestic Travel
Consider flying the night before your meeting.
Delayed flights due to air traffic congestion or weather, traffic jams from the airports and lack of taxis are the last thing you need to worry about before that 9am meeting! The cost of accom-modation is easily worth the reduced stress of arriving half an hour (or more) late for your meeting!
If you travel frequently, join the Qantas Club or Ansett Golden Wing – access to their airport lounges can give you relief from airport facilities and the food and coffee is better than anything you’ll get on the aircraft. They also have compli-mentary phones and access to computer systems.
For International Travel
Particularly important for women travelling on business – find out about the culture and customs of the country you’re travelling to – eye contact and handshaking etiquette can make or break a deal!
Take Your Mobile Phone
Contact your phone company to activate international roaming. Watch out though – the savings you make by not using the hotel phones (charges can be loaded up by 30%) can be neutralised by incoming call charges – check with your provider!
If you’re taking your laptop – check if your modem will work overseas. There are some great modems available that include software that automatically reconfigures itself to match the international phone system.
As an alternative get a free email address. Hotmail or Yahoo email accounts can be accessed from any computer linked to the Internet – many hotels are now offering access through the TV in your room. Remember adaptor plugs for your mobile phone recharger and laptop.
Don’t leave home without it. The cost of medical treatment in the US can be 20 times higher than Australia! If you are entertaining the thought of some extreme sports (for relaxation, of course) – check your policy – even riding motor-bikes in some countries is not covered. Some credit cards include travel insurance if you buy your tickets with them – be careful to check how much cover they include – you may need more.
If you travel frequently, it may be worth getting insurance that’s valid for 12 months.
Consider a Visa Travel Money Card – a new cash withdrawal card that you deposit money into before you leave home – it’s being tipped as the new alternative to travellers’ cheques.
Vaccinations & Health
Have all the shots! Take every pre-caution to avoid jeopardising your health. Talk to your doctor – listen to their advice! If you take medication – make sure you carry the prescription – some countries have bans on certain drugs and a doctor’s prescription can save a lot of explaining.
Passport and Visas
Some countries require six months validity on your passport – always keep it up to date. Make sure your travel agent has checked visa requirements – some countries don’t require visas for tourists but do for business travellers.