So you landed a job that involves loads of travel. Cool huh? Maybe not.
Ask anyone who does a lot of business travel if they love it and they’ll probably give you a pained expression and explain how it’s not all glitz and glamour. Sure there’s some sweet frequent flyer points to be had, but consider this an inconvenience tax for the things in life that you miss out on when your job takes you outside of your city on a regular basis – like social gatherings, regular sleep routines and meaningful time with the important people in your life.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. With a bit of forward thinking and some realistic planning you can make work travel an enjoyable experience rather than a chore
1. Be a rockstar
You know how you see photos of movie and rock stars leaving planes in their yoga pants and big cosy hoodies? They’re on to something. Comfort is key, especially on flights longer than three hours. Unless you have a meeting as soon as you get off the plane, wear neat and comfortable clothing that you can layer on and off as the temperature changes on the plane. I perfected my outfit for plane travel and now wear it each and every time I fly. If I need to I can layer a thin dress on top and add in smarter shoes and a fresh face of make-up and go straight to a meeting after landing.
Icebreaker make terrific clothing that breathes and keeps you warm or cool.
Silk doesn’t crumple of make you sweat. Consider buying silk clothing to ensure you have a great outfit to wear once you land.
Find your perfect travel outfit and stick to it.
2. Be prepared
I spent the first 6 months of my hectic travel schedule feeling like I was continually unpacking and repacking for trips. Eventually I got a second set of all my make-up and toiletries and bought some key pieces of clothing especially for work trips. It was an investment up front but being able to open my suitcase and throw in just a few extra bits of clothing depending on the climate has saved me a lot of headaches. It also means I’m less likely to forget things!
When thinking about the clothing you pack, try and choose items that match with multiple other pieces.
Buy a see-through travel bag that meets customs requirements for your on-plane essentials like eye drops, toothbrush and face hydration spray. Keep it in your seat pocket so you remember to care for yourself throughout the flight.
3. Play favourites
I’m talking airlines. If you can, try and fly with the one carrier (and their partners) every time. Travel enough and you’ll earn enough frequent flyer status that will see you zipping through security, using free wifi in the lounge and enjoying little luxuries like a hot shower, better headsets on the plane and hopefully those magical upgrades.
As for hotels, my recommendation is to avoid the big chains and instead find a smaller boutique hotel with a little character. Staying somewhere like The Franklin Boutique Hotel in Adelaide, or Hotel DeBrett in Auckland means that each stay I’m getting a differently styled room and because their team is smaller, they remember my face from the last time! You might not have your family to welcome you home at night, but a friendly “good evening” from a desk attendant can help make a business stay more warm.
Get a credit card that helps you earn points faster for your chosen carrier.
4. Go where the locals go
Before you get to a city do some research about where the locals like to shop, eat and play. While your hotel might have a great restaurant and gym, you will be rewarded if you make the effort to venture further afield for an exercise class or meal.
Yes you’re away for work but try and carve out at least an hour or two on each trip to do something “touristy” so you can get a sense of the city. Visit an art gallery during lunch time, visit a rooftop bar, take an evening food tour or simply walk the streets in the morning before you get ready for the day
Yelp is a great tool for this as you can bookmark your favourite spots and ask the locals for their suggestions on the talk threads.
Pinterest is a great way to create yourself a visual checklist of places you want to visit.
5. Maintain routines
The scenery might change but maintaining some of your routines can help create a sense of home and minimise the disruptive feelings that can come with travel. Pick three simple things that that are easy to implement anywhere and build them into your day while travelling. My three? I have my favourite tea and muesli in the morning (I have ziplocked bags of both in my case at all times) and I seek out a pilates class, like Breathe Pilates in Singapore, to maintain my at-home practice.
Think about some of your favourite rituals and work out which can be translated to a new environment.
The simple pleasure of eating or drinking something familiar from home can be a real comfort when travelling. Pop a few of your favourite packaged snacks in your bag for those emergency moments.
Business travel shouldn’t get in the way of your enjoyment of life, but rather enhance it. By getting the basics in order you’ll be one step closer to loving those trips and being a very happy frequent flyer. What’s your must-pack item when travelling for work?
By Tresna Lee
Leaving the corporate world to indulge her passion for food, hospitality and travel in 2009, Tresna became a waitress, created a food blog and started a food tour business. These experiences coupled with her love for Melbourne lead her to Yelp, a website that connects locals with great local businesses. At Yelp Tresna builds communities across Australia and New Zealand.