I work with clients all over the world. While some people kick it back and do nothing while they fly, when I have five hours in the air with the right tools and fuel, and I can get six or even eight hours’-worth of work done.
If I'm this productive on the plane, I have a little more time when I get to the hotel to work out, read a book, visit with friends or get some usually much-needed extra rest.
These five tips might seem simple, but I can't tell you how often I see people miss out on their benefits when traveling:
1. Charge up the night before.
Make sure you're ready to go in the morning. Charge everything you're going to need, and put it next to your car keys and purse or wallet so you make sure to pack it in your carry-on before driving to the airport. Recently I talked to someone in the gate area, waiting to board the plane, who said, “I’m going to stay here as long as I can to charge my computer, the batter is almost gone!” Personally, I like to board the plane with everything at a maximum charge; it gives me more options.
2. Pack cards, envelopes and stamps.
I write a thank you or greeting card each and every day. Between the time the gate agent closes the aircraft door, and the plane is over 10,000 feet off the ground, or time I'm not able to use electronics, I can generally write one to two cards. Writing a card has regularly started a conversation with the person sitting next to me, which is great networking potential for a small-business owner.
3. Have business cards handy.
Spend time sitting next to me on a plane and we're bound to start a conversation. Sometimes it's a short "Hi there. Heading out or going home?" But, many times it turns into a longer conversation. Whenever I meet new people, I'm listening for the kinds of things they are interested in and how I can learn and gain from that conversation. If they recommend a book, a website or travel destination, I make a note and follow up with them if I've used their advice. Bring a business card, meet someone and build your professional network.
4. Write by hand for a change.
So, I'm a fast typist (40 to 50 words a minute) but sometimes my most productive work sessions have come from splashing ink in the page I travel with a medium-sized journal, and it's always out while I'm flying, just in case I need to write something down.
5. Sit in the aisle seat.
My real tip here is: Drink more water. I flew on over 120 flights last year alone, which is a lot of time, next to a lot of people. One of the ways I believe I stay healthy is by drinking a lot of water while I fly -- eight ounces for every hour in flight. Having a seat in the aisle makes it much easier to get up when I need to. This also allows me to get up and ready to get off the plane faster. So while the window seat may promise better views, for productivity's sake, you're better off in the aisle.
OK, it's your turn. What travel tip did I miss? Let's get five more and make this a "Top 10″ list.