Every day millions of people travel for business. In airports around the world, I see suits flying here and there, carrying laptops, reading briefings on planes, or preparing for their next presentation ‘extraordinaire’. We are all working hard to exceed expectations, meet deadlines, make money, surpass profits, and still be alive at the end.
Unfortunately, many of those travelling executives look like they have had less sleep than a Giraffe, who, according to the Smithsonian Institute, sleep for 5 minutes at a time about 6 times a day and even then have one eye open and both ears alert to predators.
Executives are running up and down airports dragging carry-ons, queuing in endless lines for coffee, checking in, checking out, while planes are constantly taking off and landing, which reminds me of a story; in fact, these are true stories from flight crews. Sorry—I run a training company. There always has to be a story or two.
An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a “Thanks for flying XYZ airline.” He said that in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally, everyone had gotten off except for this little old lady, walking with a cane. She said, “Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?” “Why no Ma’am,” said the pilot, “what is it?” The little old lady said, “Did we land or were we shot down?”
After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the flight attendant came on with, “ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt up against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared, and the warning bells are silent, we’ll open the door, and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.”
Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of us here at US Airways.”
I must admit I have been on some of those landings. But seriously before you go blasting through the skies in a pressurised metal tube, what are the keys to travelling for work-related activities?
‘Lean’ means maximize value and minimize waste. It started in the manufacturing sector, but now, many of our clients in the financial, mining and pharmaceutical industries have also adopted ‘lean’. So, I was thinking, why shouldn’t we personally adopt ‘lean’, too? How can you become a lean business traveler?
If we think lean, can we improve the experience, lessen the stress and be able to live to tell the story to our grandkids?
For over 28 years I have been flying throughout Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Asia, USA and Canada. Here are my 7 Tips to Lean Business Travel:
1. Have a travel list in your phone
Airline pilots are travelling day in and day out; they fly non-stop, and many have flown thousands of times. They have a checklist to start the plane and a checklist to shut it down, and they ALWAYS follow that list. Write a list of what you need to take on a business trip, both business-related essentials as well as personal items, and check your list every time you are travelling. It will take the stress out of those horrible moments when you say, “Oh, my God, I have forgotten my wallet!”
2. Only take carry-on
Carry one small carry-on bag and a handbag or man bag. I have lost so many bags while travelling; I have lost count. Now I don’t risk losing my suit anymore, and, be honest, how many times have you taken your running shoes and gym gear and never unpacked them?
I know a man who travels for business all the time. He wears a suit, white shirt, tie, and shoes on the plane. He packs one extra white shirt, pair of socks, underwear, and one casual shirt to wear with his suit pants. His shoes work for casual as well. He fits it all in a briefcase!
3. Use Apps instead of paper
Make a decision to stop writing notes on paper and stop reading paper books, newspapers, and printed briefings. Buy a writing app for your iPad for note taking; I love Penultimate, which links to my Evernote. Buy an App for your books. I use Amazon’s Kindle App, which syncs my last read page across all my devices and has great magazines. And get an app for your favourite newspapers.
4. Arrive early and work from the airport
Be the first person there, the first one to check in. Get there two hours early if you can and then get a coffee, find a seat, and do some work. It takes the stress out of running late, rushing through security, and potentially missing your plane. Airports are great places to sit, work, think, and catch up on emails or prepare for presentations.
5. Have your own WiFi
Don’t depend on hotels and airports alone for WiFi. Personal hotspot with your phone or tablet to save time, money, and pressure. You can often call your phone provider and get a data extension for a month if you think you’ll be on the road a lot that month and need more internet.
6. Never eat without an App
I never eat at a café or restaurant unless I’ve checked it out with TripAdvisor or similar App. I have had enough bad meals on the road. Now I want to minimize the risk, so I take a few moments to read the reviews and get a feel for the food and service before I commit.
7. Don’t forget headphones
Whether its that annoying person sitting next to you on the plane or a child screaming at the hotel restaurant, you need your headphones. I am going to admit that I am a headphone-aholic. I love my headphones. I am always on the lookout for the newest, best, and trendiest. My favourite at the moment is Beats by Dr. Dre. Wireless. They are noise cancelling and amazing for travelling but they are a bit big to carry when I’m being lean, so I bought a set of the Dr. Dre Beats Tour. They are amazing for travel.