Stress Free Travel - Is it possible?
"For years I’ve used Travel Counsellers (Thanks Jill). She is literally amazing"
Pre-pandemic I used to do a fair bit of business travel, mostly for speaking gigs around Europe. Yesterday I jumped on the first plane in almost three years and it bought it all back. I’m currently sat just outside Barcelona, prepping for a talk I deliver tomorrow morning at a conference and by the time I’ll have posted this, I will have delivered it and be on my way home.
As I got back into all my old habits it struck me that it’s a mistake to assume that people know things which have become second nature to you and that by sharing knowledge, advice and lessons learnt, you might just help someone out.
So as I prepared for the trip I told myself I’d write this post when I arrived.
Now this post is pretty niche. The target is people who travel for business abroad and particularly those who speak. That said, I’m pretty sure there are a few nuggets in there for people who simply go abroad full stop and some for those who speak in the UK but don’t go abroad.
I start from the Hypothesis that travelling for many people can be stressful.
Add into that the need to be on top form and prepared the other end and you can double that stress. So to take as much of that away from you as I can, here are some of the steps I go through pre and post flight.
1). I don’t organise my own travel – No this is not some sort of huge luxury that costs hundreds of pounds to delegate, in fact it costs me nothing! Firstly its stressful dealing with flights, accommodation and transfer providers. Secondly if you do it yourself you have to keep everything together and ensure you carry out the right things at the right time (checking-in for example). For years I’ve used Travel Counsellers (Thanks Jill). She is literally amazing. Briefed with the detail (usually a quick call or email) she organises everyting for me and is paid commission (on most things) by the places she has access to. As part of a much larger network she can get deals I would never be able to. The best thing for me is that everything is then produced as part of a bundle of papers and in the app. I only have one thing to print or access from my phone. I literally worry about nothing. Tick box 1.
2). Prepare Early – If you leave your packing til the last minute it’ll stress you out. I’m not the best at this but I do generally begin throwing things into a bag at least a few days before I go. It never ceases to amaze me how many things I’ve forgotten as I go round for second and third passes over the days on the run up to the trip.
3). Electronics – If you’re going to a foreign country one of the easiest things to forget is a plug adapter. Yes you can buy one at the airport or when you’re there but why give yourself another thing to do. Put it in your bag early.
The other piece of kit I love is a plug with usbs in the socket itself. It saves me from having lots of things to take as I can charge my laptop, headphones, phone and other gadgets all from the same place. I have this one and I love it.
The other thing I can’t do without abroad is my power block. I can’t risk getting low on my phone battery in another country so I carry this one.
Headphones are an absolute essential for stress free travel. You really need to opt for noise canceling. I have the Bose QC45’s and they are the best Ive ever owned (I also have the airpods2 and Bose700s but the QC’s are exceptional for travel as they foldup). They go with me everywhere and the minute they fail I’ll be ordering a new pair. I pop them on to enter my own world, one without noise and my own playlist.
4). Documentation – You’re not getting far without your passport and not having it readily available along with your most important info (boarding cards/covid vacs etc can be very stressful to go looking for when you’re in an airport and trying to get through security. I put everything in an outside pocket of a backpack which I can get access to easily. Quick note to ensure in advance you have all your insurance and GHiC cards uptodate in case you get into bother or ill abroad.
5). Getting through Security – lets face it, probably everyones least favourite part of travel. Stripped down to your absolute basics and made to feel like you’ve done something wrong. Take the pressure out of this situation by being ready. Remember you can’t take normal sized deoderants or toothpastes and liquids if its not in hold luggage so I put all this into containers and into a see through bag pre travel day, so I’m not messing about at the airport. I ensure my laptop is easy to get to so I can take it out as soon as I’m putting my stuff on the conveyor.
6). If you can (and I appreciate this might be a luxury), try and get access to airport lounges so you have somewhere comfortable to wait (and perhaps work) while you’re waiting for your flight. You’ve got to the airport at least a couple of hours before you have to leave so by the time you’re through security you’ll still have at least an hours wait so better to be some where quiet rather than in with a load of rowdy stag and hen do’s downing pints at 7am. My Amex card gives me free access to lounges all over the uk. These often provide free drinks and snacks aswell.
7). Check the setup – If you’re speaking somewhere you’ve never done so before then you’ll want to go and check the tech setup as soon as you get there. I always head to the room the day before to make sure everything works as I want it to. I also put a copy of my deck onto a USB incase my laptop blows up!
Once you’ve checked the setup, you can relax and go enjoy your evening (but not too much! 😆
I realise this is perhaps a slightly leftfield journal entry today but one that years of businesss travel has set me up for. Hopefully this will reach at least a few people who make trips and save them some of the stress by shortcutting the lessons I learnt above.
I’d love to know your tips for stress free travel?