Dread the hassles involved with connecting flights? Relief may be on the way: Some airlines are offering nonstop marathon flights that can cut travel time substantially.
China Airlines, for instance, has a nonstop flight from Taipei to New York that's a whopping 16-hour journey; it's available only from November 1 through April 1, when tail winds give the planes the boost they need to make the 7,795-mile trip. And in July, United Airlines began offering a flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport direct to Hong Kong, a 7,788-mile journey. United operated the new service three days a week through the end of October this year.
Aside from the obvious convenience, what's most attractive about these new nonstop flights for many business travelers is their hefty time savings. "Before, travelers had to make a stop and change planes," says United Airlines' Joe Hopkins. "This way, travelers can save anywhere from three to five hours."
Still, airline officials are careful to point out that business travelers shouldn't expect to see a spate of exceptionally lengthy flights in the near future. "We don't see this as a trend," asserts Hopkins. "It's really a unique thing to do."
Going My Way?
The popularity of auto drive-away among entrepreneurial road warriors appears to be shifting into high gear. What is auto drive-away, you ask? Drive-away companies match travelers with newly purchased vehicles being delivered to the same destination.
For example, say you were heading from your Chicago business to a convention in California and needed to visit clients along the way. You could try coordinating multiple airline flights, paying for a rental car, or even putting the extra wear and tear on your own vehicle. But by using an auto drive-away service, you get to cruise the open highway in someone else's brand-new Lexus or Cadillac, with the owner footing the bill (except gas).
"It's an extremely cheap way to travel with lots of alternatives to choose from," says John Sohl, chairman of Chicago-based Auto Driveaway Co., which matched 40,000 vehicles with some 60,000 travelers last year.
The catch: You may discover there isn't a car headed back your way upon arrival at your destination. Plus, most companies require you to plunk down a deposit; Auto Driveaway asks for a $250 to $300 cash deposit.
Otherwise, all indicators show auto drive-away has moved into the fast lane; in fact, Auto Driveaway notes roughly 10 percent of its clients are small-business owners. Start your engines!
Take It Easy
Staying relaxed while on the road is easier said than done. But it's essential because high stress levels can deplete your energy, compromise your immune system and significantly lower your quality of life, says Krs Edstrom, author of Healthy, Wealthy and Wise (Simon & Schuster).
"Stress is very depleting," warns Edstrom. "When you're stressed while traveling, you're not performing at optimum levels."
To learn to relax, or at least keep stress to a minimum (after all, who can remain calm when someone behind you keeps kicking your airplane seat?), try a simple breathing technique called the "complete breath." First, exhale all the air out of your lungs for a count of eight. Next, inhale for a count of eight to 12, then slowly exhale again. This practice can stabilize your breathing pattern and help put you in a more peaceful state, says Edstrom.
Exercise is also a key stress-buster. You can do isometric exercises (squeezing and releasing tense muscles such as fingers and shoulders) almost anywhere. If you work out regularly, stick to it during your travels; Edstrom suggests exercising in the morning to get focused for the day. If you don't feel like exercising, at least do a moderate version of your usual workout. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to increase your energy and keep you mentally sharp.
My Lobby Or Yours?
Hotel bars and lobbies are buzzing with the sound of business travelers making high-powered deals. Why not conduct your next business meeting in a gilded-bronze lobby, snug wood-paneled bar or Chinese tearoom at a nearby hotel? Author Carol Berens details some of the hottest and poshest meeting places in Hotel Bars and Lobbies (McGraw-Hill). From Richmond, Virginia's Jefferson Hotel lobby, complete with grand staircase, to the elegant Top of the Mark bar in San Francisco's Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel, these places boast rich histories and atmospheres that are sure to spice up your business dealings.
Right On Track
Leery of carrying important personal items with you while traveling? The Tracker, a high-tech identification and recovery service, can take the hassle out of finding and retrieving belongings the next time forgetfulness strikes.
All you do is affix Tracker's bar-code labels (encoded with confidential ownership information) to valuable items such as your notebook computer, electronic organizer, luggage-even your glasses. When someone finds the item and calls a toll-free 24-hour hotline listed on the label, it's automatically picked up and delivered to the nearest recovery site-usually a local police station. Once identified, your property is returned via Tracker's courier service to ensure it doesn't languish in the lost-and-found storeroom of an airport, hotel or police station.
Each Tracker Security Kit ($29.95 annual fee) contains 24 adhesive labels, six looped tags for key chains and luggage, eight cloth labels for clothes, and four tags for shoes. To order, call (800) 361-8725.
When In Rome . . .
With more small businesses expanding internationally than ever before, it's time for entrepreneurs to take a serious look at proper business protocol-or risk losing business, urges Katie B. Holmes, editor of The Diplomat, a newsletter on international business protocol.
"Most people have never even traveled out of this country, so they aren't aware of cultural differences," says Holmes. "They need to be aware that habits we might consider minor are often very noticeable in other countries."
Proper protocol for dining, dress, eye contact and exchange of business cards in the country you'll be visiting are just a few areas of etiquette you should investigate, says Holmes. Otherwise, you may not comprehend why you must face the door during a business meeting in China, or why you risk offending a potential business partner in South Africa by yawning in public.
To get up to speed, Holmes recommends consulting applicable newsletters or attending training courses on international protocol for business executives. Or try contacting the appropriate country desk at the U.S. Department of Commerce for relevant information.
American Airlines, (800) 882-8880;
Auto Driveaway Co., 310 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604, (800) 346-2277;
British Airways, (800) AIRWAYS;
China Airlines, (800) 227-5118;
Delta Air Lines, (800) 325-1551;
The Diplomat, 5 Cathedral St., Anapolis, MD 21401, (800) 237-1631, (410) 263-5380;
Krs Edstrom, 3674 Barham Blvd., Ste. L-315, Los Angeles, CA 90068, (213) 851-8623;
International Air Transport Association, 2000 Peel St., Montreal, QC, CAN H3A 2R4, (514) 844-6311;
Marriott International Inc., (301) 380-5237;
McGraw-Hill, (800) 2-MCGRAW;
Runzheimer International, (414) 767-2200;
The Tracker Corp., 180 Dundas St. W., #1502, Toronto, ON, CAN M5G 1Z8;
United Airlines, (800) 241-6522;
United Parcel Service, (502) 329-6548.