International Business Travel: A Survival Guide

Jennifer Prosek  Follow

PassportI can always tell the newbie travelers on a business trip.  They check luggage (ugh), they don’t know how to cut the lines (they haven’t learned the importance of airline loyalty and status), their luggage doesn't fit the overhead bins just right and they haven’t developed a religious routine for survival.

If you travel internationally a lot, you’ll notice that those around you who are international road warriors all have their ceremonies, routines and methodologies that they claim help them speed through airports, fight jet lag, stay energized, etc.  The guy next to me on my night flight to London this time swore by eating the first meal and not the second and the lady across from me said chugging tomato juice knocks out her jet lag.  Both were wearing what they swore was the most appropriate but comfortable sleep gear—something stylish enough if they are spotted by a client on the plane, but comfy enough to double as sleepwear.

For me, I swear by one ambien, no meal and maximizing sleep time on the way over.  I wear upscale sneakers, pajama-comfy worn jeans, a long sleep top and throw a suit jacket over it all just in case I need to look business like in a hurry.  And I opt for an 8pm or 9pm flight vs. the 6pm (deadly).  If you’ve got to land and go straight to meetings (another ugh), hit the showers at the airport and make sure you bring your favorite toiletries from home, so you’re comfortable and then suck it up, power thought, no naps until late that night.  Then take another ambien that night and shoot for eight hrs before the full day.

This routine gets me two full days of meetings and social events with clients—just productive enough for a strong trip.   For those of you who will go on your first international business trip, get some tips from a frequent traveler.  Find yourself a business travel mentor and take their advice … right down to the kind of luggage that fits everything you need and into the overhead (FREQUENT TRAVELERS NEVER CHECK LUGGAGE).

And if you are going to London, my best advice?  Convince your boss to let you take the luxurious day flight (zero jet lag folks) in coach (saves them bucks and saves you a potential week of recovery).  And if you need a travel mentor, you know where to find me. CJP

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