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There are certain things that all business travellers already know but others take time to learn. For example, if you're an experienced traveller, you never start talking to the guy sitting next to you on the plane.
 
The reason, of course, is that if he turns out to be an American he'll probably treat your friendliness as an invitation to talk your ear off for the entire flight.
 
So to help out my fellow travellers, last week I gave you the first five of my top 10 travel tips. This week, I'll share the other five.
6. Carry cash. Most of the time credit cards will do the trick, but you will inevitably come across some small but important charge that needs to be paid in cash.
In Manila, for example, you need US$18 for airport tax and they don't take credit cards. In Kuala Lumpur, when you get off the train from the airport, the only way to get a taxi is to buy a taxi voucher and the only way to pay for a taxi voucher is with cash.
And if you don't have cash, you have to stick your bank card in a foreign automated teller machine with unclear instructions.
If you're lucky you will get the unhelpful message, "Your bank may levy an additional charge on international transactions, do you wish to proceed?" and pay whatever arbitrary fee and exchange rate happen to be applicable. If you're unlucky, the machine won't work for you and you'll be wandering desperately around some airport or shopping mall trying to find a machine that will accept your card.
If you're really unlucky, the ATM will have your card for lunch.
And by the way, that credit-card symbol on the window of the taxi doesn't necessarily mean that the taxi takes credit cards issued in your country. Nor does it mean that the credit-card machine in that taxi is actually working.
7. Stay in an expensive hotel. Don't go budget. Budget is fine when you're on the beach and you're not expecting any faxes or  e-mails. But when you're on business, you don't want to find out that the business centre is closed when you happen to need it.
You don't want to discover that room service stops before you get back from your late meetings. And you don't want to have to watch television in another language because they don't even have CNN or BBC.
The other important thing about staying in an expensive hotel is that you can hold meetings there. If you have to have dinner with a client, do it in the hotel. The restaurant will be good and you won't have to struggle to get back to the hotel.
You'll be lying on your bed watching in-house movies long before your client even gets home. And no matter how silly this sounds, staying in the flash hotel doesn't do your image any harm.
8. Anticipate jet lag. Want to know a sure-fire way to avoid jet lag? Don't travel. Jet lag will get you if you fly across time zones. All those big mouths who claim to have defeated jet lag are full of it. You can't beat it, but you can manage it.
So if you arrive in the evening, you will either not sleep until 7am or you will sleep until 2am and spend the rest of the night watching TV. In either case you will feel fine the next morning and then start to look and act like a zombie around 3pm.
Do not schedule meetings all day to "power through". You won't make it. Schedule your meetings in the morning, and then in the afternoon go do something outdoors that involves physical exercise. Don't organise a dinner.
If you arrive in the morning, do not give yourself a day to recover before starting your meetings - you'll get bored and fall asleep.
Do meetings in the morning, go for a jog in the afternoon, go shopping for your wife, husband or life partner, and don't have dinner with clients.
A good friend of mine tried the power-through approach to jet lag and was discovered by his client asleep in the bathroom at Robert De Niro's Nobu restaurant in New York.
9. Go to the gym. How many business travellers have gym gear in their bag that they never use? The natural approach is to pack your schedule as full as you can on a business trip to get maximum benefit. So your days are filled with meetings, lunches and dinners. And dinners have a tendency to degenerate into late-night drinking sessions.
Doing nothing but eating, drinking and talking business for days is tiring. And pretty boring. It soon leads to exhaustion and grumpiness, and a feeling of dread contemplating the next day's schedule. If you don't give yourself time off, you'll degenerate into an overweight zombie
So do something active. Go to the gym, do some laps in the pool, walk around for a bit. I guarantee you'll feel better about life on the road.
10. Do not go to the girly bar. There is a myth that permeates the banking world that if your client wants to go to some dodgy place, then you've got to go too.
It ain't true. It is perfectly acceptable when your client says he is going to some strip club or go-go bar or late-night massage parlour to say to him: "Have a great time. See you tomorrow."
Unless of course that's your thing, and trips into the land of sleaze are a normal part of your social schedule.
But for the rest of you who are concerned about your marriage, your safety or your bank balance, follow this rule: if you wouldn't do it at home, don't do it on the road.
11. The last travel tip is that there are more than 10 things you need to know. In fact there are probably 20, perhaps 30.
So here's my suggestion: for all of you who have read to the end of my list and are thinking, "What does he know? He didn't even mention the most important thing," write me an e-mail, send me your top five or top 10, and I'll add the most useful, clever and entertaining suggestions to a future column.
And if you want your name in the paper, I'll give credit to the readers who send in the best list.
 
 
Ten tips for intrepid business travellers: Part Two - Tips 6-11
Sunday, August 24, 2008