When you regularly travel for work, two things happen: airports and hotel rooms quickly lose their sheen, and you start to accumulate travel hacks that boost productivity—or at least help to minimize the stress of being on the road. We asked frequent flyers in a variety of fields how they make business travel easier for themselves. Here’s their best advice.
Forgetting an essential charging cord or tech accessory at home can be frustrating and expensive, but according to Charles MacPherson, the founder of household management and staffing agency Charles MacPherson Associates and author of The Pocket Butler’s Guide to Travel, there’s an easy solution. “I have a small satchel that lives in my suitcase. It is filled with every type of computer cord, multiple cell phone cords, Kindle connection, USB adaptors, video input/output cords, multiple dongles and finally two global plug adaptors,” he says. “I never want to be in a position that I am somewhere in the world and don’t have what I need to work or live. People are often amazed when they see how such a small bag keeps me in a position of control.”
Maximize your flight time
There aren’t many places left where you can truly disconnect, but planes come close. And Bruce Poon Tip, founder of small group adventure company G Adventures, makes the most of that time. “I spend a lot of time on planes and for me it’s focused, undistracted time, perfect for tasks that require laser focus or for longer reads,” he says. “Usually I don’t have time in my day-to-day for those things. I put them aside and keep those items for my next flight. I also tend to save a lot of interesting articles and studies on things like leadership or global concerns for when I’m flying.”
Don’t forget your tunes
“I don't usually listen to music when I write, but when I'm travelling, it's the perfect way to retreat and block out the mansplaining seat mates, flight announcements and screaming kids,” says author Cherie Dimaline, who just wrapped up an extensive book tour for her latest novel, Empire of Wild. That’s especially important if she’s trying to get work done on the flight—which she usually is. “In my business, you need to be able to stay interior for long stretches of time.”
To that end, Poon Tip recommends investing in a pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones, which aren’t just great for flights, “but also through airports and long taxi rides.” He always has a supply of podcasts to catch up on, he says, as well as meditation lessons to help him relax.
Get enough sleep
Jet lag is the business traveller’s curse, which is why it’s worth splurging on a really good sleep mask. Michele Romanow, tech entrepreneur, venture capitalist and Dragon on CBC’s Dragon’s Den recommends masks by Manta, which are adjustable and promise to block 100 per cent of the surrounding light. “It’s the best one I’ve found and makes it so I can fall asleep anywhere,” she says.
It seems obvious but staying hydrated is key to feeling—and looking—meeting-ready at the end of a long flight. (Dehydration can even make jet lag symptoms worse.) Toronto fashion designer Hayley Elsaesser says she always carries a refillable water bottle with her. “The airplane is basically the Sahara desert,” she says. “But airports always have water fountains.” If you forget your own canteen at home Romanow recommends heading to the closest McDonald’s. That’s where you’ll find “the cheapest water bottles you can buy at an airport,” she says.
And once you get to your hotel room, Macpherson has a clever tip for staying hydrated. “My number one rule is to fill the bathtub up with hot water, while leaving the bathroom door open. This helps to humidify the normally dry hotel room.”
“When I travel, I’m actually very productive because I basically plan for the worst,” Elsaesser says. “My main saviour that has actually changed my life when travelling is a GlocalMe personal hotspot. I top it up based upon where I’m going and then I have guaranteed strong Wi-Fi wherever I am, even in the Uber on the way to my hotel. I hate to feel like I’m wasting time, so I can always be working when necessary. And, they’re super affordable and save you a bunch in data overages and roaming fees when travelling.”