Whether you travel for work or you work in travel like me, chances are high that a significant amount of your travel time is to new cities. While it can be stressful especially if you are solo, it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a bunch of simple tips to transform a boring business trip into a more productive and fun one.
A modern day problem is that we tend to see our friends more online than offline. Use this time away from home to catch up with old friends or ex-colleagues at one go. Put out your city specific dates on LinkedIn, Facebook and any other social media channel where you are active. Tag a few people. Ask if anyone wants to meet up. Once a few people show interest, set a date and a convenient restaurant and ask people to mark it in their calendars. Bonus is the high probability that you will end up gaining a useful contact.
# Check holiday calendars before you plan a prospecting trip.
If you are not one of the lucky few with a secretary, this is an easy mistake that can cost you dearly in money and time. If you arrive a day or two, before a long weekend off, the people you want to meet may have clubbed a couple of days of leave with the holidays and gone away earlier.
# A minute ahead can save you a lot of stress.
If you are traveling to a new city, take a minute to check its safety stats. You can Google it or ask a local contact. Instead of taking an airport taxi late at night, ask the hotel if they have an airport shuttle or get a trusty reference for a taxi service.
# Use the weekend to turbocharge your productivity
If you are in the destination over a weekend, don’t continue working through it in your hotel. Getting away from work can lead to a productivity burst when you get back on Monday. Ask your hotel concierge or colleagues for advice on easy weekend getaways. If you have only an evening free, use an event listing website to catch a local play or foodie event.
# Use technology to get over language barriers
It always pays to learn a few basic phrases if you are going to a city where the language is not English. No time to brush up? Download a translator app like Google Translate or iTranslate for easy access but remember, it may leave you with epic gaffes. Still, people will appreciate the fact that you tried.
# Be culturally sensitive
The Internet may have made the world a global village but good manners never hurt anyone yet. Nothing builds connections like cultural sensitivity. Learn local customs like how to greet people, how to hand over your business card, whether you should gift or not and how much to tip. If you are stumped anywhere, the best thing is to observe and follow suit or politely ask your host. Don’t assume and cause offence when it is easier to make it a highlight of your visit.
I am lucky that I have the privilege of combining my passion for travel with my work. Using these hacks has helped me make the most of my business trips. I hope they work for you too.