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6 Sure Fire Scenarios to Make Business Travel Suck Less

I get to do a good deal of travel annually, both personal and business – but at least 85% of it is business and I continue to make B-team mistakes when it comes to living out of a bag. Travel train wrecks are no fun and for some reason things that happen are more annoying when you’re traveling. I suspect it’s the hurry up and wait thing which exasperates this weird travel “hectic-ness vibe”.

So I’ve spent time identifying a couple of reoccurring scenarios I find myself getting into as a business traveler which need a resolution.

Damn it’s too late/early to call!

I often find myself on other times zones and get goofed up on my schedule and forget to ring home. This scenario’s resolution plan is fairly straight forward – Microsoft Outlook. By using outlook timezones, meetings, and whatever might get in the doesn’t because I have a reminder to call home now. All I did was put an outlook task on my calendar every day at 3:00 PM. I may ultimately need to adjust the timing, but should work everywhere – Europe to San Francisco. The daily task even has utility when I’m home. It becomes the “Do I need to stop and buy something” call.

Holiday, what holiday?

With the near reliance on Outlook for nearly a decade and even more so with the call home task, I hadn’t noticed that US Holidays aren’t enabled by default which has caused me issues multiple times. I attempt to schedule my travel a min 6 weeks out and all I see is a clear calendar, no holidays. Not any more! I was able to easily enable US Holidays in Outlook by going to tools>options>calendar options>add holidays without issue.

With holidays visible now on all of my devices I shouldn’t end up forgetting to plan for long weekends or to not be aware that I’m accidentally traveling on say Mother’s day. It’s not like you have much flexibility on btravel, but it’s helpful to know such context earlier rather than later, just in case you have to buy a bigger gift.

I got my iPhone, I’ll find it

As a geographer and a male, I sometimes find it difficult to acknowledge that paper maps are required at all. Especially if I have already been to the city a couple of time or I have my phone with me. I’ve used my iPhone a couple of times and I can’t seem to orient myself with it while driving. On a recent trip to IAD, I made 1 wrong turn which ate up 8 minutes of time and $6 in unneeded tolls so I’m not to confident in the iPhone as my map/directions provider. So it’s paper directions for me going forward, I’ll just print them out when I print my boarding pass.

A 7:00 am Flight is never a good idea

This concept of taking 7:00 am seems reasonable and actually tempting more often than not, but in practice it never works. You have to wake up at like 3:45 AM, get to the airport and you now catch a hour delay. So I just asked myself 1 question: How cool does one need to be to roll into Mid-Town for a 11:00 am meeting from Atlanta. Quick answer, I’m never going to be that cool so it’s a flight the night before for me.

NOTE: Each region will have a similar scenario – just substitute the city most appropriate for your location to internalize this spatial scenario – 9:30 meeting in Chicago from Detroit. A 10:30 meeting in LA from SFO.

Don’t be the weird old guy at a concert

Sometimes with business travel you get this rare open evening, late morning or an afternoon where you can catch a moving, a leisurely lunch or live music at a local venue. My preference has historically been music on the road as a great way to consume downtime, today I mainly opt for hotel wireless and delivery.

I’ve seen some really good music by happenstance on the road – String Cheese, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Widespread, Derek Trucks, Disco Biscuits….. so it’s your call. I’m just not sure I’m in for hanging with a bunch of kid’s, which is what audiences have essentially become to me.

So why have audiences become a bunch of kids to me? Well I’ve recently noticed that I’m trending towards the weird old guy standing in the back of the venue checking his blackberry.

Dude, I lost my “X”

Let’s just get a baseline on the stuff I’ve lost during travel in the last 3 years or so:

  • 2 iPods – 1 was the victim of a airplane seat pocket and the other a cab I think
  • 3 pairs of sunglasses – 1 hotel, 1 rental car and 1 plane pocket
  • 1 pair of prescription glasses – not really sure
  • 1 jacket – forgot I had it in the overhead compartment, didn’t realize until the next day.
  • 1 set of headphones – combination iPod loss as well in a seat pocket
  • Socks galore

The only common thing each of these scenarios had was some sort of distraction like being on the phone or a quick turn connection to my final destination. It’s not like I generally don’t like losing stuff and it annoys me for a while. So I’ve decided my Zen-esque path forward is to at peace with my losses. On the pragmatic side I’m going to just budget for losing $600 worth of stuff a year in flight and hope to stay under budget.