I ripped my hamstring this past week racing between gate A26 and gate F4 in Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport. For those of you who have traveled through Atlanta, you can appreciate the distance between these two concourses and their respective gates. The pain of the sniper-like attack on my right, upper rear leg was only enhanced by the fear that my carry-on luggage, which I had inadvertently left in the overhead bin of the first plane, was now 30,000 feet above Orlando.
When traveling across the country, as I was this past Wednesday, I generally wear very comfortable clothes that would otherwise be inappropriate for the keynote speech I was giving at a major commercial real estate conference the next morning. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve my luggage and limp back to my second flight, on time to make my next 4-hour flight, in a middle seat no less!
The next day’s presentation went very well, as measured by how I felt, how the audience responded, and the many emails I received afterwards. Despite my physical pain, I could look back and say – the trip was a success. But then again, I have learned, over the many miles and iterations, how to handle the stress of travel and get in position for more successful results.
Here are a few approaches I take before making a short (1 to 2 days) business trip. I share these with you in hopes they may bring more success, if not a good laugh.
10 business travel tips
1) My presentation(s)
It is saved on my MS Surface Pro 3, also on a backup flash drive and in the cloud. Luck have it, my Surface was infected with the hotel’s Wi-Fi the morning of the presentation. No problem. I simply used the client’s laptop to retrieve the presentation from the cloud. I also have PDF copies of each to share with our clients and provide them afterwards.
2) Power cords
Telephone and MS Surface power cords are always in my carry-on luggage. All it takes is one cancelled flight, or worse, sleeping in an airport (I have done this 3 times) to realize the value of having power all the time.
3) Backup power
I carry two backup power sticks always. A smaller one in my briefcase and a larger one in my carryon. They are both fully charged the night prior. These come in handy when you are sitting on the tarmac for hours at a time.
4) My travel itinerary
Even if I am taking a cab, MapQuest maps/directions from the airport to the hotel or client location are printed. In some cities, such as New York, Chicago, and even Minneapolis, trains are sometimes quicker and cheaper than a cab. I have these maps printed as well. Hotel information with confirmation and rewards numbers are printed and sent to my phone. My boarding passes are both printed and sent digitally to my phone. Again, you never know when your phone may run out of power.
5) Client information
It is printed with a copy of the original proposal. Client profiles are added with their pictures. Ever see someone and you forget their name? Ouch!
Beyond the essential stuff – always 2 suits, ties and shirts, even on 1 night stay trips. Overkill you say? Last year I was preparing for a client meeting, sitting at my hotel desk and as I went to stand up, the desk draw handle snagged my left pants’ pocket and ripped the entire seam. Really, I can’t make this stuff up.
Always have a “travel” pack versus using your primary toiletries. Razors, blades, shaving cream, soap, shampoo, contacts, and even a backup portion of any medications. Heck I am a male over 50 – I could open a drug store.
8) Reading materials
And lots of it. Whether from your physical “one day I will get to” pile or on your tablet, pack lots of reading materials. After you have prepped for your meeting or presentation, you can either watch TV in your hotel room or read something that will propel your business forward. For me this week, it was a physical copy of Success Magazine and 2 books on the Kindle App on my MS Surface (Essentialism and Drive).
9) Noise-canceling headphones
Traveling is a great time to focus on a project, or perhaps get in a quick nap to offset the 4:00 am alarm to catch the first flight out. My Bose headphones are a must. Plus, it is a subtle hint to the lady sitting next to you that you don’t want to hear about her ten cats she left back at home.
Yes, plane food has actually gotten much better, but not necessarily healthier. A banana, apple, or even nuts are easy to pack. A low-sugar energy bar is always a good choice. As far as eating out while traveling – you know what is, as my wife calls “a safe choice”, and what is not. Airport sushi anyone? When it comes to alcohol, never a good choice on a plane trip and rarely a “safe choice” with clients. You know who you are if you have ignored this last suggestion.
Traveling can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful. Now if I can only get one of my kids to pay attention to me and get me a new bag of ice for this hamstring, Nope, looks like another long limp to the freezer. It beats the walk from concourse A to concourse F.
I would love to hear from you regarding your suggestions for travel success or even your travel horror stories. If you have something to share please comment below. Safe travels!