We asked frequent fliers, airport experts, scientists and even a former Buddhist monk for tips on how to master the business trip.
The airport guru: Craig Richmond
CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority and former pilot
I give myself extra time for a stress-free experience. I’d rather be early and working in the lounge than worried about getting through security, no matter what airport I am travelling through.
As for beating jet lag, it’s pretty simple: Don’t overeat, and get plenty of water and sleep. This makes all the difference.
Jet lag is a funny thing, though, as it can be irregular and sometimes will hit you regardless of whether you’ve done everything right. New aircraft like Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner have features that help reduce jet lag—softer LED lighting, larger windows that dim on demand, more air moisture, lower cabin air pressure, better air filtration—so if I can fly on a 787, I will.
I also always make sure I bring my Bose noise-cancelling headphones. I have an app called White Noise, which cancels out the cabin background noise. My favourite sounds overlay the rain, a thunderstorm and a campfire. I have had some wicked camping dreams to that combination.
“My Muji shaving kit is designed to go through security—everything fits in one small bag, and all the containers are refillable. I can just throw it in my nice, light Tumi carry-on bag and go.”
Globe@YVR at the Fairmont
“Without sounding biased, Globe@YVR at the Fairmont is hard to beat. Their wild mushroom soup is my go-to for lunch.”
The fashion maven: Ethan Song
Founder and CEO, Frank and Oak
My packing secret is a no-brainer: versatility. Pack items that you can mix and match, that can go from day to night, and from meetings to fun.
I always pack an assortment of grey, black and navy clothes—you never go wrong with classic neutrals.
On the plane, I wear a bomber jacket with a lot of pockets for my passport and other documents. Underneath, I wear a Merino wool sweater—it doesn’t wrinkle and lets your body breathe, and can be both chic and casual. As for shoes, Chelsea boots are the way to go: You look bad-ass, and you don’t need to lace them up.
I stash a refresh pack in my carry-on that includes an eye cover, breath mints and some moisturizing cream. For longer flights, I add an extra pair of socks so I can take off my shoes during the flight but not get cold.
If I’m checking bags (which I try to avoid), I make sure to have an extra set of clothes in my carry-on—once or twice a year, I’m guaranteed to have my luggage lost by the airline.
“I love to travel with my Frank & Oak Weekender bag and our leather backpack. I also always bring a pair of Nike Roches—they’re easy to wear and so comfortable.”
Ace Hotel in New York and L.A.
“They attract a great community of like-minded creatives and entrepreneurs. You always meet interesting people there, and it feels like a second home.”
The trend hunter: Shelby Walsh
President and head of research at Trend Hunter
I mainly travel where our clients are or to speak at consumer insight conferences—which means I see a lot of Las Vegas, Orlando and Miami. I always travel with my MacBook Pro and my Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. It has a big screen, which is great for typing e-mails and multitasking.
Getting the chance to travel with colleagues is great; it gives us time out of the office to talk shop and about life in general.
It’s worth it to pay for in-flight WiFi. It’s great coming home from a work trip and seeing your inbox at zero and not having to worry about any backlog.
It’s all about prioritizing. Unfortunately, in-flight WiFi isn’t always available, so anything that requires the Internet (like research) should be done waiting in your terminal. Anything that needs your undivided attention and no connectivity can be done on the plane.
As for productivity apps, I’m obsessed with every Google app available. One app that isn’t about productivity but more about convenience and ease of travel is Uber. It makes life so much easier.
Always pick the line that looks like it has the most business travellers in it, because this isn’t their first rodeo.
“Airplane air can wreak havoc on your skin, so I use Clinique Moisture Surge to keep mine hydrated. I typically travel with no makeup on and apply it once I’m at the hotel or, if I’m headed straight to a meeting, in the airport bathroom.”
Rose. Rabbit. Lie.
“At the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, a perfect marriage of old-timey apothecary and modern aesthetic, with vintage-inspired cocktails. Don’t miss the band.”
The designer: Stanis Smith
Airport architect and EVP of Stantec
Good airport design can intuitively guide people along their intended path and provide a calming, soothing environment. One of my favourite lines is: “Signage is an admission of failure.” Signs should be unnecessary.
Like most passengers, I find travel stressful, even though I fly just about every week. So give yourself plenty of time to allow for delays at security or gate changes. I use an app like Flightstats to check the on-time performance of flights and book accordingly. Some flights are notorious for being delayed more often than they’re on time.
Avoid long waits by checking in online. And look carefully at your ticket to see which airline is operating your flight—your ticket might say Air Canada, but the flight might be operated by United, which could mean you’re in the wrong terminal. It’s happened to me more than once.
Jump the queue with a Nexus/Global Entry Card. It will save you time and hassle at security and immigration. If you’re flying from the U.S., get your airline to designate you as “TSA Preapproved.”
Don’t check bags. Ever. Use hotel laundry to reduce the number of shirts you need to pack. Also, get the largest carry-on the airlines will accept, with four swivelling wheels so you can sprint through airports and aircraft without causing collateral damage. Buy a briefcase with a back-flap that slides over the handle of your carry-on.
Heavy outerwear slows you down at security, which is why I swear by my compressible ultralight down jacket that easily fits in my carry-on. Pair this with slip-on shoes with no metal shanks and you’re laughing.
Once through security, I head straight for my gate to check that all’s in order. Then I can relax and enjoy whatever the airport has to offer. Some of the coolest airport features help you relax and reconnect with nature. Nassau Bahamas has an outdoor patio where you can sip a drink and watch the planes. Vancouver (which I designed) has an aquarium in the international retail area.
Carry an adapter so you can recharge multiple devices when you find a rare wall outlet (I always pack the two-prong, triple-outlet cube adapter I bought for $5 at Home Depot).
“Accessorize. Maybe you have to turn your underwear inside out, but if you have a different tie each day, nobody will be the wiser.”
The Fairmont Royal York
“The Fairmont chain wins high marks for its fitness program—running shoes, shorts and T-shirts are waiting for you in your room, which saves a huge amount of space in your carry-on.”
The savvy packer: Emran Sheikh
CEO of Heys Luggage
You can save yourself a lot of space and time by being better organized and packing efficiently. For a typical business trip of three or four days, I’d pack one pair of dress pants, plus three to four dress shirts. For that stuff, I use Heys PackMates—they have built-in folding boards that keep your dress clothes firmly compressed. Still, I always choose fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily.
For everything else, roll, don’t fold. Using the rolling method and putting everything—including undergarments, socks and accessories—into packing cubes can increase your packing density by about 50%.
My favourite bag is made by Heys, of course: the PortalSmart Luggage Business case. It’s the best business case, period. Mine has travelled the world many times over. It has dedicated pockets for your laptop, iPad, adapters and cables, so you can easily take them out for the Transportation Security Administration.
“I use a One Plus Two phone—it has dual SIM card slots, you can have two active numbers and switch data plans without having to swap SIM cards. Another must-have: my Lifetrons 13,000 mAh battery pack with two USB ports, for charging on the go.”
Four Seasons Maui
“I love going there with my family. They have a fantastic service level—they go above and beyond.”
Beat jet lag like an astronaut
Tips from Kevin Gregory, former NASA sleep scientist and co-founder of Alertness Solutions, which helps companies manage worker fatigue
--Get plenty of sleep the night before you leave so you aren’t travelling with a “sleep debt.”
--Go easy on the food and booze in-flight, and drink plenty of water.
--Snooze if you can (aided by an eye mask and earplugs), and move around regularly.
--When you arrive, take a short nap. The optimal rest should last 40 minutes—roughly 26 minutes of actual sleep, plus a cushion for falling asleep and coming full awake.
--Reset your body’s clock with a walk in the sun. If you’re travelling west to east, get natural light in the morning. When you travel east to west, get light later in the day.
How to get zen at 30,000 feet
Andy Puddicombe is a former ordained Buddhist monk and creator of the Headspace meditation app. He shares his secrets for how to tune out distractions and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed.
Step 1: Your first instinct might be to ignore the distractions and take a few deep breaths to relax. But denial doesn’t work. The first step is acceptance. The noise itself is not the problem. Rather, your discomfort lies in the gap between reality (the noisy plane) and what you want (quiet).
Step 2: Acknowledge your frustration. Where is the distraction coming from? Who or what is causing it? Is it the screaming children, the constant kicking of your seat, or the music blaring from your neighbour’s headphones?
Step 3: Listen to the sound without assigning blame. If you give it your full attention, eventually your mind will get bored of it, and allow the sounds to come in and out of your awareness. Once you land, you’ll find yourself with a much greater sense of calm and clarity.
How to drink and fly
Don’t be that guy—the one who downs too many mini-bottles of gin and causes a ruckus. We asked Dr. Bhushan Kapur of the University of Toronto, who’s been studying the effects of alcohol since the 1970s, to bust some myths on drinking responsibly at 30,000 feet.
True or false: You get drunk faster on an airplane.
False: Technically, your blood-alcohol level doesn’t rise any quicker in the air. But fliers tend to slug back booze faster on a plane, since they have a shorter time in which to indulge. And the lower oxygen level means you might feel the effects more (and more quickly) than on the ground.
True or false: You get less drunk the more water you consume.
True: Drinking more slowly (and on a full stomach) slows down the increase in blood-alcohol level and, consequently, the effects of the alcohol, since your body starts to eliminate it from your blood even as you’re still drinking. So order diluted drinks and space them out, preferably with water in between.
True or false: Women get drunk more easily.
True: If a woman and a man of identical height, weight and age each consume five gin-and-tonics, the woman’s blood-alcohol level will rise quicker, since women have more body fat (and therefore less body water) than men. Pit a fit young woman against an overweight older man and it’s a different story.
Travel like a techie
These five apps will save your life (and actually work in Canada).
How it works: Forward all your confirmation e-mails—flights, hotels, rental cars, OpenTable reservations—and it builds you one master itinerary. The Pro version will also send you flight-delay alerts and seat sales.
Cost: Free (Pro version $4.09/month)
How it works: A basic currency converter is bolstered with every other measurement you might need: acres/hectares, exchange rates, tips and even a mortgage calculator for that farmhouse you come across in Tuscany.
How it works: Choose your home airport, key in dates, and it will feed your inner vagabond by spitting out a list of destinations based on price while suggesting alternate dates to make your drop-it-all fantasy even more tangible.
How it works: Google Maps is a godsend, but it’s also a major consumer of potentially pricey roaming gigabytes. MapsMe allows you to browse maps when connected to WiFi—then download offline versions.
How it works: Enter your airline and flight number, and this indispensable tool sizes up the entire plane and guides you with pinpoint accuracy to the best (and the worst) seats in the house. Never—ever—prebook seats without it.
Illustrations by Danilo Agutoli
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