Business travel inevitably involves a lot of so-called wasted hours. In between managing your luggage, answering calls, dealing with increased security checks, it can be a tiresome and frustrating experience. AWM speaks to frequent travellers to find out their top tips on how to make the most of travel time so you arrive at your destination prepped and ready to focus.
Just getting to the airport can be a lengthy, time-consuming process, so use that time wisely. Kalpesh Patel, AWM Publisher, always catches a taxi to the airport so he can catch up on calls. “Due to my manic diary, I tend to miss calls and conversations become delayed, so I find being in the back seat of a cab on an hour-long journey is a perfect time for me to catch up on essential calls.”
There’s no right answer for whether it’s best to travel by day or night, it just depends on if you can relax enough on a plane so you arrive ready for work. It’s an important point to find some time to adapt to your destination. Jetlag is real, and frequent fliers know best how their body adjusts.
Rohit Khagram, managing director of RDK International, travels regularly to the Middle East. He prefers to travel during the day, at least one day before business commences. He says: “It’s difficult for me to actually get proper rest during a flight. But once I arrive, I like to check in to the hotel, have a long shower and try and catch 6-8 hours of quality sleep before I start work. This allows my mind and body to get used to the time shift. For me, it is important to get a good night’s sleep, eat properly and download all important documents once I arrive”.
Try and eat a good meal before you travel, so you’re not relying on aeroplane food to sustain you. A hungry headache will not set you off on a good start. It’s a good idea to pack snacks such as nuts, fruits, protein bars and dried berries.
Flying is dehydrating, so it’s important to keep drinking water throughout the flight and avoid alcohol, coffee and tea. Dr Luc De Backer is a Doctor in Philosophy, and travels constantly due to his demanding teaching schedule. His trick is to drink a litre of warm water once he reaches his destination. “As well as my normal liquids, I make a point to drink one litre of warm water with honey and either lemon or apple vinegar. I drink this for a few days as it helps to hydrate and combat fatigue.”
Business lounges are well equipped so you can work more efficiently before flying and during stopovers. They are not restricted to Business and First Class, you just speak to your travel agent to find out options available to you. It is also useful to download airline apps to make the travel process more seamless. “You can manage your whole booking on an airline app,” says Suraj Babber, partner and co-founder of FlyClub Boutique. “By just downloading the relevant app, you can check-in and download your boarding pass so you just need to tap your phone at security. Apps also have live flight status, so you can check if your flight will be delayed. I was travelling back to the UK recently, and I knew of a delay to my flight before the staff at the airport!”
Travel gives you the opportunity to meet other people and make connections. Divyesh Thakkar, co-Founder of Sunlite Solar met his business partner at an airport and quickly struck up a friendship. “You don’t know who you’re sitting next to on a plane so I always make sure I’m carrying my business cards and have images of my products on my phone. You can meet people from all walks of business and from different parts of the world. Of course, sometimes it’s just polite conversation, but when you’re travelling all the time, you’re bound to meet some interesting people.”
While the actual flying might mean involves lots of sitting around, working isn’t always the best option. Screen use, along with travelling through time zones can leave you feeling stressed and tired even before you arrive. “I don’t work on the flight, I prefer down time, says Divyesh Thakkar. “If I come across an issue, I’m not going to be able to do much mid-flight.” Kalpesh Patel also uses flying as a time for reflection. “I tend to put on some relaxing music and reflect of what I need to do, what has been done, and why. Day to day you find people become very operational and find very little if no time to reflect, refocus and re-strategise. This is a great time to do this and you find when you land you’re raring to go.”