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I travel a lot.  My colleagues in Haverly travel a lot.  My husband travels regularly.  My brother is a roadie – he really, really travels a lot.  Amongst us we have probably experienced every possible reason for delay that you can imagine, including hurricane, volcano, strike, snow, mechanical fault, new security system, passenger taken ill - -- and, my personal favourite – “someone has left the luggage truck parked behind the airplane and we can’t reverse out of the gate until they come back and get it.” 
 
Some distilled wisdom is offered here from our collective experience of air travel and business trips, particularly those dreaded long-haul flights that land you in a different time zone.

1) Avoid connecting flights.

2) Take the train – it’s a lot more relaxing than flying.  You get to keep your stuff with you and can get up and walk around.

3) Your passport should be in date and have at least 6 months left to run. 
 
4) If you have just gotten married and are changing your name, don't book a ticket in your new name until your passport / driver's license have been updated.

5) Check early if you need a visa! (or you might, for example,  have to spend a day in line at the Indian consulate in London for the express service.).  

6) Get the airline phone app – Not only will you look like you're a modern, with-it business traveller, you can grab your seat, the gate information and be able to re-book when things go wrong.

7) Print your boarding pass and itinerary – the phone app is great, but phones run out of charge.

8) Join every hotel and airline loyalty program.   It adds up.   And even if you never earn enough for a good freebie, lots of them let you donate the points to charity.

9) Change your money in advance – the rate at the airport is awful.   Shop around for a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
 
10) Charge your phone the night before you leave (and your laptop and your Kindle and your other phone etc.)  --- and then remember to pack the plugs and cables. 

11) As you leave the house, chant: "passport, ticket, money" --- "passport, ticket, money" ----   (see Absolutely Fabulous, season 2 episode 3) and make sure you have them all. 
 
12) Get a multi-way adaptor.   The best ones convert in-out US/UK/EU, and have USB, so cover most of the world.  Watch out for South Africa, they have a pretty unique one - and old sockets in Italy take have three small round plugs, not the standard European 2.
 
13) Always have snacks (and tea bags).  Who knows how long you might be stuck on the runway. And it can be rather hard to find a meal when you wake up at 2 am.   A spoon or chopsticks are useful too. (Plastic forks usually break.)
 
14) Have a little first-aid kit with you. Pain relief, something for a stomach upset, anti-histimines, liniment etc.  
 
15) Always have a spare shirt and undies in your carry-on, (and your chargers and your first-aid kit), as your suitcase might not arrive with you (even if you are on a direct flight.)

16) Have plenty of reading material.  An e-reader is great (particularly for those flights where you have the seat with the broken light), but have a book too, in case you run out of battery, and an emergency back-up book in case you finish the first book.
 
17) Prepare for security.  The rules about liquids and gels in a plastic bag, coat off, laptop out etc. apply to everyone!  You can keep your water bottle if its empty.

18) When queueing for security avoid being behind anyone who looks like they don’t understand that the rules apply to everyone.  (See “Up in the Air” – film starring George Clooney, based on book by Walter Kirn.)

19) When the low battery warning light on your laptop comes on, save your work and back it up.  When the power on your laptop runs out, that’s a sign that you have worked enough and are entitled to spend the rest of the journey reading (or listening to music or watching a film or having a snooze.) 

20) Keep calm and carry on. Things will go wrong.  Stress is not the event itself, but how you react to it.  Flight delayed, connection missed (see Number 1)?   Take a deep breath and chill.  It's an inconvenience, not the end of the world.

21) When you reach your hotel room, stop, turn back to the hall and take a minute to see where the emergency exit is.  Do you turn right or left when you leave the room?

22) Don’t put your hotel room key card and your phone together in your back pocket.  The phone will de-magnetize the card and you will have to go back down to the front desk and ask them for a new one.

23) Don’t use your room key card to scrape snow off the windscreen of the rental car if it is really cold.  The plastic gets brittle and it will crack when you sit on it.

24) Uber is a really great option in many big cities (e.g. Mexico City, Nashville).  You don’t need to speak the language and sometimes the cars are in better condition than the taxis (Johannesburg), although sometimes they don’t have seat belts (Cairo)

25) If you are renting a car in Europe and don’t know how to drive a shift, then you need to specifically pre-book an automatic, because manual transmission is the default.

26) Make constructive use of jet lag.  If you have travelled West you will be waking up early.  Read, work, go to the gym, call home.  You can have a whole morning, take a nap, and then wake up in time to have breakfast with the locals and go to the office.   If you have gone East, and its hard to get up in the morning, then do all that stuff in the evening, as well as pack up your computer and set out your clothes, so you can get up at the last possible moment.   Then drink lots of tea (or coffee). 

27) The first night after a long-haul flight is usually a freebie – you will be so tired from the travelling that you will sleep like a log.  The next day it will hit you. 

28) It takes about a day per hour of time difference to adapt.  If you are doing a short trip, you can resist by trying to stick to home time meals and sleep hours, and save yourself some pain when you get home.

29) If you want to adapt to a new time zone, make yourself keep local hours.  Exposure to day light, particularly early morning and evening will help reset your body clock.   Go to the gym, go for a run, or just take a walk – the exercise will do you good as well.  You can shorten the process by “pre-adjusting” your hours while you are still at home.
 
30) With a big time zone change you may suffer from Afternoon Nap Syndrome.  If you are trying to sleep when you are normally awake, then you might only manage a few hours at a time –but some is better than none.  If you want to get back to sleep, keep the lights off, don’t look at the phone or your e-mail.  If its clear you are not going to sleep anymore, then get up and be constructive.  You can go back to bed when you feel tired again.

31) Its easy to lose track of time when you are out of synch.  Keep checking that watch.  Accidentally staying up all night watching TV is not constructive.
 
32) Switch off.  Turn off that laptop and phone and put your feet up for a bit.   Just because you have the opportunity to work a 10 hour day, doesn’t mean you should.  
33) Lock and Open the room safe once BEFORE you put anything in it.
 
34) You are supposed to empty the hotel safe BEFORE you check out.

35) Your reading glasses, wireless mouse and laptop charger are supposed to come back with you.

36) When you get home, make sure your passport, driver’s license, etc. end up in a safe place where you can easily find them again -  that does not mean the pocket of the jacket you wore home from the airport.

37) When you get home, get your admin done:  Expenses (your money) – trip report and invoice request (the company’s money) – follow up on what you promised the customer (their money)

38) No matter how badly you think you were adjusted to the time shift while you were away, you will still be out of synch when you get home.  See Numbers 26 to 31 above.

39) Enjoy being at home.  Snuggle into your own bed.  Unpack and do your laundry.  Spend the evening lazing on the couch in your pyjamas.  See your friends.  Walk the dogs.  Play with the kids.   Take some time in lieu and catch up with yourself – you’ve earned it.
 
 
Happy Travels
 
Thank you Paul, for correcting my geography.   Feeling wide awake at 3 am doesn't mean you really are.
 
 
  

From Kathy's Desk, 17th Sept 2018.

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