Some time ago, I used to do a significant amount of business travelling, less so now, but a post I saw elsewhere recently got me thinking about how organised I became while racking up large numbers of airmiles**
It’s generally not the glamorous lifestyle many people imagine. I rarely got much time to sightsee and my experience was more airport -> taxi -> meeting -> taxi -> hotel -> taxi -> airport. You have to be able to occupy yourself a lot while you wait for flights, but it does give you a rich seam of war-stories to draw upon in years to come.
So, in the style of so many things on the web these days, here’s a ‘Top 10’ of things that set you apart from the common-or-garden tourist.
- You know what metal you have on you at ALL times
Airport security is the bane of all travellers’ lives. Personally, I am a big fan of airport security, I have no axe to grind, I’m just trying to get from A to B with the minimum of fuss.The thing to remember is that they’re just doing a job; a job that hopefully makes travelling safer for all of us – safe from both the determined and the stupid. The less hassle you give them, the quicker you will be on your way.
The frequent traveller can pinpoint everything on his person that will set off the metal detector. And they will have either moved it into their hand luggage or tray before they get to the detector, meaning they will only ever be stopped for a random search.
The introduction of recent measures regarding liquids extends this model a little, but you get the idea. A smooth passage through security is the key.
- You carry one, and only one, piece of hand-luggage
Anything more is checked into the hold. Some people who have an obsession on carrying on loads of hand-baggage and cramming it into the overhead lockers.Your one piece of luggage will be sufficient to carry your laptop, MP3 player, earphones, other valuables, breakables and anything else you will need to survive in the event your other luggage goes amiss.
And you know it will fit in the overhead locker, or better still, under the seat in front of you. The closer it is to you, the better.
The one caveat I’ll place on this one is if you have a tech job. I had to travel with a kit-bag too. It had about 30x mobile phones and PDAs in it, and I wasn’t putting them in the hold. It was still minimalist tho.
- You know where your passport is at all times
Without your passport, you’re dead in the water abroad. you really don’t want to have to do the whole Embassy thing, and being refused travel until it’s resolved, do you? So make sure you have it on your person at all times.Having written your passport number of countless visa applications, customs tickets and hotel registers, you may even know your passport number off by heart. You may even end up carrying it around with you at home, but that’s just taking it a bit too far.
I include in this that you know where your tickets are, your loyalty, membership, lounge and cash/credit cards too. But you knew that, right?
- Your mobile numbers are all prefixed with country codes
It’s one of those things you do during the endless waiting in airports, you stick ‘+44’ (or equiv.) in front of all entries your address book, even the local Indian restaurant and vets; like you’re ever going to call them from the US.You will of course have international roaming enabled for all countries and you are aware of the countries where even that won’t work, like Korea, home of Samsung and LG, where you’ll have to hire a phone at the airport
- You don’t browse or hang about, you focus on the goal
Unless you’re looking for something, like a gadget or something for your journey, you will not be amongst the throng of people in the airport shops or Duty Free.Instead, you exercise a guerilla-like approach to shopping; In, select, pay, out. Bam! No hanging about. Instead, you’ll be the one striding purposefully towards the gate.
- You have over 10 airline and/or hotel loyalty cards
The more places you go and/or stay, you’ll fill in the forms and find these things dropping through your door. You’ll start to wonder, ‘Why isn’t there a single collector system?’And then it will dawn on you that it would then be too easy to get some value out of it.
- You know all minimum check-in times for all airports
The frequent traveller doesn’t like to hang about in airports, even although it seems they do.So, getting to the airport with just enough time to spare becomes an art-form.
- You’re not phased by changes to your plans
Changes to circumstance are an inevitability of travel. There are a significant number of external influences on your travel plans, most of which are beyond your control. So why get stressed when the inevitable happens?You need to remain flexible, go with the flow, adapt. The people you’ll be meeting at the other end generally know how bad it can be, so just keep them appraised of what’s gone wrong and work out how you can fix it.
That said, you will, of course, have planned for some eventualities. Won’t you?
- You have a timezone/jetlag avoidance policy
If you have to do intercontinental travel, you will experience the fun concept of jetlag. For most people this means being tired for a couple of days after they return from holiday once a year.But if your itinery means you are only back for 24h, you’re not going to survive that timzone zombie-like state for long.
So you will have come up with a strategy. There are a few options, including some bizarre ones (Shine a light behind your knees? Aye right.) Planning ahead when you should be sleeping to get you back in synch worked fine for me.
- You have no patience for other travellers
Your calm, travelling exterior will likely belie the inner seething animal that wants to rip the head off other travellers that don’t conform to the above rules.
Happy travelling!** Yeah, save the planet, whateveer.
BTW. The planet will be just fine, it’s humanity that will suffer.