5 ways you can take the pain out of international business travel

From how to pack your bags to coping with jet lag, here are some tips for avoiding travel woes.

By Cathy Burke General manager, Travel Counsellors Ireland

THERE’S NO DENYING that travelling for business can sometimes be stressful, complicated and tiring.

Just commuting daily on the M50 can be a tough enough task, never mind the stress of facing chaotic airports, living out of a suitcase and vast time differences.

In my childhood, as a Girl Guide, we lived by the motto bí ullamh – be prepared. This mantra has stayed with me for my working life, and I often draw upon it, particularly when travelling.

From securing lounge access to using some clever apps, there are ways to make the hassle of jet-setting that little bit easier.

Plan ahead

There are two smart and easy ways to plan ahead with business travel, by booking flights in advance and also packing smartly. I know it’s not always feasible to book your business flights way in advance, but if you can, you should.

In terms of the actual flight, it’s also important to be prepared. In your carry-on, have all chargers for your electronic devices – fully charged in advance – to hand and any additional power packs you think you might need for them.

While many airlines these days have in-flight Wi-Fi available to their business class customers, it can be slow and intermittent, so be prepared.

Download necessary documents or presentations to your local drives. Also, print off anything you will need in hard copy. Organise your carry-on so that you have a notepad and a couple of biros packed – useful for capturing inspiration when you may be device-free.

Avoid jet lag

Suffering from jet lag – red eyes, tiredness, irritability and lack of focus – is never great before a business meeting. However, there are some simple techniques you can try to rid those dreaded symptoms.

Flying west is always easier as it adds hours and gives your body more time to adjust. If you have flown west, try going to bed a little later in the local time than you would normally at home. If you are flying east, bring your bedtime forward.

There is a great website, Jetlag Rooster, which can provide you with a free plan to shift your body clock to reduce jet lag. Another good jet-lag avoidance tip is to organise your flight so you arrive in the evening.

This is ideal for those who find sleeping on planes difficult, as you can stay awake during the flight, work if you’d like and arrive at your destination at the “right” local time for some shut-eye.

Lounge access

Airport lounges are great for escaping the hustle and bustle of the airport, and provide a quiet space to catch up on some work with free Wi-Fi.

Most people think you need to be travelling business class to gain access to airport lounges. However, most airports have pay-per-visit lounges where you’ll find Wi-Fi access and quiet spaces for working.

As a rule, the home airport airline is usually the one to aim for.

Be prepared

I always check a bag in, regardless, as it means less stress at security as I can pack all my toiletries away. Then, by the time I disembark and get through passport control, in most airports my bags are waiting for me.

Also, if you fly business class, one of the benefits is your bags come off first. However, you should be prepared to survive without your checked-in luggage if it doesn’t join you immediately at your destination.

In your carry-on, plan to bring up to two days’ supply of toiletries – in containers of 100ml in a transparent resealable plastic bag – and one change of clothes.

This way, even if your bag does go missing, you are still prepared for meetings and appointments until you and your bag are reunited once again or you are able to buy supplies.

Use apps

There are so many useful apps available for the modern business traveller.

They range from PackPoint, which checks weather data and allows you to enter information about the length of your trip and the activities you’ll be doing while away to generate a personal checklist to help you pack, to iTranslate, which offers translation and dictionary services for more than 90 languages.

Also try Strict Workflow, which enforces a strict 25-minute distraction-free work session followed by a five-minute break.

It is pre-loaded to block a handful of popular-but-distracting websites, although you can also add new sites to the list or you can create a whitelist of the only websites allowed during a work session.

Cathy Burke is general manager of Travel Counsellors Ireland.

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