Are you travelling for business? Want to travel more? Sometimes it’s not all fun and excitement, but here are 7 ways you can put the adventure back into your business travel!
Let me be clear. I have the travel bug. I caught it as a young girl, travelling with my parents around Australia in a caravan every time my Dad had long service leave or school holidays. For that I am truly grateful.
Then as a teen, I was lucky (I mean REALLY lucky) to be awarded a life-changing exchange to Alberta, Canada with Rotary.
That was the start of a true journey for me… Forever bitten by the travel bug. Since then I have experienced over 30 countries around the world.
But since having kids my priorities have changed. I now want them to see the world, and that has been our priority for the past two years as I get asked to speak at more and more amazing conferences and my business takes me around Australia and beyond our shores.
In that time, I have picked up a trick or two for making travel fun and I want to share them with you.
When travel loses its shine
There’s no denying it. Travel for business to amazing places sounds exotic, but sometimes it can be tiring, and it does take you out of your daily routine and away from family. My biggest challenges are:
- jet lag and recovery time on arrival and return (I live in Australia so it’s not so easy to just do a short flight to a city in the States or Europe!).
- missing my family – time away from them can be a chance to reboot but if you are heading to a busy conference, it doesn’t always happen! We try to all go together to some destinations, but it can be expensive.
- keeping a workflow – I always have great intentions to keep working, but my travel bug kicks in and I want to see places and hang out with great people. It’s tricky!
- eating well and getting exercise when away! Finding healthy food can be a challenge in some locations!
So here are some solutions to these problems. I hope you find them useful too!
#1 Travel for Business, Plan for an Adventure
I know you might be heading to a conference or a business meeting, but it doesn’t all have to be business. Plan for adventure. I always try to fit in one exciting trip, tour, or “adventure” on every trip. It’s better when I have my family with me, but you can still include awesome people no matter the circumstance or location:
- Do a shout out on social media for a meet up – I can guarantee you will know some awesome people online, if you don’t know anyone in the city.
- Stay at AirBnB. AirBnB is an awesome service that focuses on social proof and recommendations and you get to meet and know the hosts. It’s social and as an ex exchange student, I love that! My recent stay in San Diego in a gorgeous apartment by the beach before speaking at Social Media Marketing World was amazing. The host even took me to get a mobile sim card on the first day when I was at my most jet-lagged. How awesome is that!
- Get on Trip Advisor and find some great restaurants, cafes or attractions and tours before you go. I can guarantee having something planned or booked to look forward to, takes the stress out of it being all work, work work and long haul flights!
- Use Trip Advisor or Google to find and plan for healthy eating. I always look up my local WholeFoods in the States, or local markets and organic grocery stores and juice bars!
- Join your preferred airline club if you can – it helps to have a comfy place to hang out while waiting for flights and a bite to eat or a drink.
And most importantly, say Yes.
Now, I appreciate that not every opportunity that comes your way is a good one (and you also need to exert caution and be safe) but I have found, over many years, that travel opportunities arise that you have to say yes to!
On a trip to Cuba, my husband and I met a young man, and after a conversation, he invited us to meet the drummer from Buena Vista Social Club. We said yes, knowing it could be risky (and may well be a wild goose chase) but then again, it was one of my favourite albums of all time and I loved the movie and…fun fact…I play the drums.
One hour later we were sitting in a very small apartment having a beer with a Grammy Award Winner speaking in my (very rusty) Spanish, while his Grammy Award sat hanging above our heads. I’ll never forget it.
Your adventure might not be to meet Amadito Valdez from the Buena Vista Social Club but I can guarantee you will find an adventure in any location.
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#2 Get Your Rays …STAT!
My husband is a health professional, and he told me this awesome secret a couple of years ago when we arrived in San Francisco, with our kids in tow and they were struggling after a long haul flight overnight. He said this:
“Quick it’s sunny outside, let’s go and lay in the park”.
What? I need to get to the hotel. Let’s get settled, I do NOT want to lay in a park in a strange city.
“We need rays on our forehead” he replied. hmmmmm ok…. and why?
Here’s why: our bodies go into “what the…?” mode after a long haul flight. We have crossed date lines, sometimes we have arrived (6am LA time) before we left (7am Sydney time) and we are out of kilter. Our circadian rhythm is out of whack.
Your circadian rhythm is a physical, mental and chemical rhythm that your body adheres to over a 24 hour cycle. You can get all the artificial light you want but REAL sun on your forehead helps your body to recognise that it is daytime at your new location.
I can’t stress this enough. This works wonders. Every time I have been able to get my forehead facing natural sun for some rays, it has helped me to recover from jet lag faster.
I’m not a health expert, and I don’t advocate you stay out there for hours (I said circadian, not lobster) so don’t get sunburnt. Even 15 minutes will help. And do it on the day you arrive if it’s sunny.
So there we were, all laying in a park in San Francisco, sunning ourselves. And I have been telling travellers ever since to sun themselves… and now I am telling you.
Sun + forehead. Stat…. you’ll be ready for your adventure!
#3 Take a personal Tourguide (in your pocket)
Don’t have anyone to take you around and show you the sights? Yes you do! There is no excuse now as we have sooo many apps and guides on our smart phones that we can easily tap in to!
My favourite is Trip Advisor. Just load the app on to your phone, open it up and click on Near Me Now… You can immediately check out hotels, restaurants, cafes, attractions and more!
Or use it before you leave to research your destination. Work out what you want to see and where you would like to go before you leave. It takes the stress out of finding great meals and getting your way around a city when you arrive.
And I want to give a shout out about another awesome app for those of you coming to Queensland, Australia, my home state. I was speaking at the Social Media Tourism Symposium on the Sunshine Coast 2 weeks ago and had the pleasure of hearing Chris Chambers (Director of Digital Marketing, Tourism and Events, Queensland) talk about this amazing app: This is Queensland App turns a trip to Queensland into an adventure.
The app helps you to find local visitor information centres in Queensland, WiFi and this bit I love… it helps you discover local secrets! Isn’t that what travel is all about? I’m excited to use it and I LIVE here!
A hard-working business trip with an app like this in your hand can really turn your journey around into something special.
So find the app that is used in the local area you are going to – do a google search for local attractions and destination organisations – see if they have one. Even if it is just for an afternoon after you are finished at a conference, getting out and about can feel like an adventure!
#4 Fly like a Rockstar
Flights can be hard. Especially if you have kids in tow, or you are just tired and can’t sleep well. This may not be an “adventurous” thing, but you are on your way to your destination and you want to be arriving as fresh as possible, so you can have an adventure when there.
Here are a few tips that help me to stay fresh and ready to go (as long as I get my rays – see tip 1) when I arrive:
- Take an awesome neck pillow. I have a memory foam one. Trust me, if you get caught sleeping in a strange neck position it can put your body out of kilter and you can get sick. Try to sleep with a neck pillow on as it keeps your neck in a safer position.
- Drink LOADS of water. I know that the rum and coke at 12pm (in whatever time zone you are in) seems like a GREAT idea but go easy on the booze and drink the water… you will be glad you did.
- Take lip balm – airplanes are VERY dry.
- If you have allergies don’t trust the food service, take some food with you… at least you will be better able to resist having that gluten snack at midnight when you know it will cause your belly to react the next day.
- Take regular walks around the plane.
- Ask for the seat you prefer on check in (aisle or window). It might come down to whether you like clambering over people or whether you prefer them clambering over you.
- Say hi to the attendants, they are the ones that can sneak you spare snacks or make sure you have the right meal. If you have kids in tow this is crucial. Make friends.
- Bring entertainment. Don’t rely on the movies. You might be the one poor person for whom the headset doesn’t work or the TV is down. Bring an ipad with some pre-loaded movies or your laptop. Most planes have chargers now.
- Check ahead about in-flight wifi – sometimes you need to download the airline’s app and you don’t want to be attempting to do it on the runway.
- Dress comfortably – I know that you want to look good at the airport but here’s the thing. Planes are hot around take off and then they get really cold. Dress with layers and make sure you use their pillows and rugs. Take sneakers or comfy shoes. And for the love of flying, please ensure you have a change of clothes and some essentials in your carry on – in case baggage goes missing.
- Pack Great headphones. Noise cancelling if you can. And include a set with an adaptor so you can plug it into your arm rest on the plane and watch the movies with awesome sound!
- Take many portable chargers. I love my Mophie charger but there are many available. I have one that charges a couple of phones and an ipad and one that is a lipstick size charger. You can never have too many chargers.
oh and check out these guys – Best. Luggage. Ever.
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Want? I know I do! You can now buy a Trunkster suitcase after their successful kickstarter campaign.
If you do all these things and still don’t have a great flight, then win the lottery and fly business/first class. That’s the bomb (just don’t say bomb at the airport, ok? That doesn’t end well).
#5 Do Jet Lag like a Resort Guest
I’m getting older. I can’t backpack like I used to (ah the days of backpacking) and I don’t recover from long haul flights as quickly as I used to.
So I had to face facts. I need me some jet lag days.
What’s a jet lag day? It’s a day either side, where you just … jet lag.
You take it easy, relax, maybe take a stroll, check out the local area, but don’t do too much. Sleep at the sleep times in your location (avoid sleeping during the day) and eat well. That’s it!
Now when I travel, I allow for at least one jet lag day on arrival, and one when I get back. It’s tricky if you are busy but believe me it’s better than having the effects of jet lag to cope with over a full week.
You will recover quicker grasshopper. And remember…. Rays + forehead. Refer to Tip #1.
#6 Become a Day Stay-er
I’ve discovered the day stay and I love it. Often we get so caught up in all of our transfers and getting from A to B and it sometimes involves a LOT of waiting.
Why wait somewhere unappealing? I’ve been caught out trying to work at LAX before waiting for a flight that afternoon after arriving early morning … and it’s just not fun. Book a day stay!
You can do this in an airline lounge and lucky you if you are a member of an airline club. Do that.
If not then check out options for a day stay before you arrive. Some airlines offer a day stay rate. Believe me if you are stuck in an airport all day, paying $50 (sometimes between $50 and $80) might be a very very good investment for your sanity.
Or check out the local hotels – some of them offer day room rates. You can hang out in a hotel room, watch TV, use the gym, sauna, spa, pool and just relax … better than the airport! And usually they are close by so it’s just a quick shuttle bus down to the international airport!
#7 Meet in the Middle
I used to love travelling alone. After travelling in Europe with friends (pre-kids) and always having a deadline to meet or a destination we needed to be at for one of our party members, I revelled in spending 5 months in South America having NO agenda.
Truth be known I didn’t spend long alone as I ended up meeting great friends to travel with – but at least it was my choice and I loved having the freedom to travel.
Now that I am older and have awesome little people in my family I want to travel with them. There is nothing like the wide eyed wonder of a child’s experiences travelling… so I love to have my family with me when I can.
So I have come up with a compromise. We can’t always afford for our whole family to go to the States or wherever I am flying… so we “meet in the middle”. Fiji and Hawaii have been our test cases so far and I can tell you that it is the BEST holiday ever.
Not only does the business traveller get “half jet lag” in that you are only flying half way so it’s not so hard on your body… but my family are super excited for the entire time I am away to come and meet me. Winning!
And if it’s a bit of a stretch to all meet in the middle, then consider just having a stopover. This also works for those that are really not sure about long haul flights (we Aussies get used to it but we have to … we live so far from anywhere).
If you are flying from the States to Australia a stopover in Hawaii could be fun, or from Europe to Australia, stop in Asia. It breaks up your trip, so if you have the time, do it!
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