People who work as consultants often have to go on trips all the time. Many people spend 45 weeks a year on the road, and some say they wouldn’t want it any other way.
In our group we know of a married couple where both of them work on the road. Often, they make fun of the fact that they only see each other from Thursday night to Sunday night most weeks. They say they should write a book called “Marriage on Three Days a Week.” Of course, they have a lot of frequent flier miles and hotel points, so they go on great vacations. No one is left at home while the other eats out every night and comes home expecting all the chores to be done.
Many people have learned how to be comfortable on the road so that their travel plans are a source of new experiences and great stories, not a burden. If you learn how to be comfortable in your environment, you’ll be able to do better work and last longer in this hard job.
The two types of consulting jobs from a travel schedule point of view are the following: People who work for a consulting company are called “road warriors.” They travel to a new city each week, often meeting with two or three clients at once and spending only a few days in each place. The other type of person goes to the same place every week to work on a long-term project for a few months. People who travel a lot have different types of travel schedules based on their personalities as well as their skills.
There are some seemingly small things you can do to make yourself a lot more comfortable on the road, no matter what type of trip you’re going on.
Make sure you sign up for every frequent flier and hotel points program you can. The best thing about business trips is that you get to go on a free vacation with your family later. The trips to Pittsburgh could buy you a trip to Prague or Honolulu or wherever your heart takes you, so don’t worry about that.
When you can, use the same airline and hotel chain in every city that you go to. There are a lot of ways to get points with this, but one of the best ways is to start getting them as soon as you get there. A lot of Marriotts have a lot in common. You will start to feel at home very quickly.
Packing for a trip
Set up a routine for packing things. You need to make a list of all the things you know you’ll need for any trip, like a toothbrush and a battery for your cell phone. Every time you pack a suitcase, go over the checklist again to make sure you have everything you need there.
It costs $200 to buy a “charge everything” device and a hotel toothbrush that will rip your gums out.
- Always think that you will have to carry your own luggage when you go on trips. To avoid taking something you don’t need, don’t. Always buy one there. Don’t take jobs in places where there are no stores.
- Pack clothes you can wear to work out and clothes you can wear in your hotel room.
- Sleep in something that you don’t mind people seeing. Two floors above and below are always evacuated when there is a fire. Even if it is just a small fire in the trash can. Those are the things that the loudspeaker above the bed is used for.
- All of the luggage looks the same to the eye. Use strips of duct tape or a big pink bow to make your bag easy to see on the carousel and less likely to be stolen.
- Rolling clothes doesn’t make them wrinkle, which is what the military has found to be true. Don’t fold it, roll it up instead. Afterward, fold up the collar and put one shoulder inside the other.
- Think about what you pack from the point of view of Customs and Airport Security when you do it. As an example, many airlines don’t allow you to bring steel-tipped darts in your carry-on bag. We learned this the hard way. The one you don’t think. Carry all of your medicine in its original packaging, especially prescription drugs.
- Make sure you buy two of everything you use every day, such as your makeup and razors, your toothbrush, and so on. One set should stay at home. Pack your toiletries once and leave them packed for the rest of your trip. There’s no risk that you’ll forget something important and not notice until the middle of the night in a hotel room that you’re not used to. Whenever you run out of something, buy a new one. This is easier if you use well-known brands that are sold all over the country.
After a few weeks of traveling, you’ll know what to pack and what to leave at home.
Living in a hotel
It’s easier if you stay at the same hotel each week. Make friends with the people who work at the front desk and in Housekeeping. They might even give you money off if you stay for a certain number of weeks. This is good for both you and your customer.
A few rooms in different parts of the hotel will help you figure out which things you like and which things are bad. A few weeks after moving in, you’ll likely have a favorite room. Make sure to ask for it every week. Every week, if you stay in the same room, you’ll feel more at home and it’ll be easier to remember which room you’re in. Because this is the hotel room we were in last week, the key doesn’t work because we don’t know which room we’ll be in this week.
Check a suitcase with the bellman over the weekend instead of carrying it home with you. You followed our packing advice and bought extras of all your toiletries and travel needs, so the bellman will be happy to help you. During the weekend, you can leave your laundry with a dry cleaner and come back Monday with a new wardrobe without having to pack a bag for your plane trip. Then, you’re free.
Make friends with the people who run the food. If you eat all your food from the Room Service menu, you will soon get tired of the options. Invite the person who answers the Room Service line to give you ideas.
At night, when Christine was working in a city where it was not safe to leave the hotel and go out, she called the Room Service number and said, “I’m hungry and nothing on the menu looks good tonight.” “Please help me!”
You don’t have to worry about Room Service, the voice said. I know what you like after all these months. It would be fun for you to be surprised.
As a bonus, the waiter brought a glass of red wine and said, “The chef said to tell you that he knows you don’t like red wine, but this is very good.” Try it with steak. One bite of steak, one sip of wine.
She talks about that steak even now. After that, she never looked at the Room Service menu again. A fish might be good for dinner tonight. “I want something chocolate.”
Make sure you think about how the chef feels if you don’t like the hotel menu.
To pass the time in your hotel room, here are some ideas:
- Call your mom.
- Go to the movies.
- College libraries are often open until late at night. Take a class.
- Work out, please. Remember when you were in college? There are too many meals at restaurants and not enough long walks in the park in the life of a consulting firm.
If you work out at home, try to work out the same way when you are away. Find out if it’s safe to go outside near the hotel and walk/run. This is also a great way to find restaurants and pubs that travel books don’t know about, because they don’t write about them.
If you work out at home, stay at a hotel with a gym and use it. If there is no gym in the hotel, keep in mind that many national chains have memberships that let you work out in any city. As with national hotel and restaurant chains, gyms are a great way to find familiar surroundings in a new place. They are also a good place to meet new people.
It is a good way to get some exercise and enjoy your time on the road. Look around. Shop. Ask people at your hotel and at work what you should see while you’re in town.
Our friend worked in Buffalo, so he went to Niagara Falls, the Arch in St. Louis, Napa Valley wine country, six Broadway shows, and Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break in just one year.
Yes, I did. I didn’t know that it was called the City of Fountains. There are fountains that get frozen over in the winter so you can see ice where water would be. Just lovely.
Check out the Budweiser Clydesdales at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis and you can see them up close. In the Super Bowl commercials, they are fun to watch. Imagine what they would be like when you saw them in person.
These chances may not come around again. Take breaks from your hotel room.
Everyone living in a city will be happy to help you find out what makes it great.
Single Life on the Road
It’s often more appealing to single people who don’t have a family waiting for them each week to come home to. They say the only problem is how to keep a home clean when you’re not there during the week.
Tips: Here are some:
- Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail once or twice during the week.
- You should put automatic light timers in your house. Outside, put motion-sensor lights up. In this way, it makes it look like someone is at home, and it also helps protect your things. A lot of people in Austin, Texas, don’t like when bats and possums move away from their homes.
- People should hide things that are worth money. It’s not like burglars would think to look in that bag of potting soil in the garage. To get help: Tell someone you trust where you hid them. You’ll remember all the great places you thought about, but you’ll forget the one you chose.
- Make a little extra money as a consultant and hire a maid service to come in and clean your house while you are away. You should also hire a lawn service. When you finally get home, the last thing you’ll want to do is do housework. You’ll be happier at work if you don’t feel like you’re not doing your chores enough.
- People who are trustworthy can stay in your home if it’s possible for them to. Then you won’t have to worry about anything.
In addition to taking care of your home, a single person on the road has to keep up with their friends. When you’re away from home all week, it’s easy to miss out on your friends’ plans for the weekend. You have to do more to keep those friendships at home, especially if you are also making new friends in the city where you work.
Consultants who work for the same company for a long time might make friends, or even start relationships, in the city where they live. People who live all over the country can be a big help at work because their friends and coworkers can also be part of your network.
Don’t date someone in the client company.. This could get messy. It’s true. You have a different situation than I do, so this is not the same. Adults will take care of it. There are a lot of things we’d like to believe, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Even so, this is still good advice for everyone else to follow, even though.
Married with children
It is more difficult for people who have a family at home to live on the road. Your heart aches when they’re gone. You also feel guilty about having fun without them.
The same things that make a single person’s trip more fun can make you miss your family even more when you’re away from them. There are times when you think, “The kids would love this,” or “Niagara Falls by myself? Is that even possible?” Not at all!
Here are some tips for traveling when you miss your family:
- In long letters, write all the things you would have said if you were at home instead. Getting a fax machine for the house will let you get them done before you go to bed so the family can read them at breakfast, too. We know that. Email works just as well. Except it doesn’t. A handwritten letter has more value. They just do that.
- Give your family the hotel’s fax number or set up a personal e-fax number so they can fax you. Letters from home are good. As well as drawings and report cards, and anything else that makes you feel like you’re closer to each other. Most kids could use a little writing practice now and then, and most of them already know how to use a computer.
- For the kids, you can buy a small digital camera or use your cell phone to take pictures. You can then make a slide show called “Day in the Life.” Take pictures of your day from the time you wake up until you get ready to go to bed. You can take pictures of your hotel room, your breakfast, your coworkers, the bookstore you go to after work, the restaurants you like, and more. You can trust us. They will love it.
Getting behind the wheel in places that aren’t familiar to you
Weather conditions and driver courtesy rules vary from city to city. In some cities, driving is a race, and it’s rude or even dangerous to slow down for a yellow light. You will be honked at or run into by someone. In others, you’ll get dirty looks if you don’t yield and let a waiting car merge in front of you. On most country roads, if you don’t wave at passing cars, you look like an outsider.
You can use these tips no matter where you are in the world:
- Get a map when you arrive. If you know where you are going, you are much less likely to get lost.
- If you rear-end a car on the freeway, your first move should be to hang up the phone. Better still, don’t use your hands while you drive. Hang up the phone and drive.
- Rent your car from the same agency every week and be extra nice. Usually, the same agents are on duty every Monday morning, so eventually they’ll know you and may offer you the cool convertible or the Jag for a week at no extra charge.
- Not every state or city has a “right on red” law. The car rental company or a “No right on red” sign should tell you before you think it’s OK to drive through any intersection where you are.
- The worst thing you can do is hit something when you’re stopped for speeding, running a red light or going the wrong way on the road, so be very polite to everyone. There are times when this is true even if you aren’t on the road. You’ll have a better chance of making your meeting or flight if you deal with the situation in a polite way.
In New York or Boston (or London or Beijing), take a cab or public transportation. Do not try this at home. With regard to driving in these places, the rule is “Don’t try this on the road.” In other words, ask someone at your destination or consult a travel guide to find out whether it’s advisable to drive yourself around.
If you are facing your first winter in a snowy climate, ask someone to teach you how to drive in icy conditions before the first blizzard. When your car starts sliding, you’ll be glad you did this. You might feel silly, and people will laugh at you.
Many of our clients will offer free driving lessons even if the roads are icy, even if they’re from Texas.
Air Travel Tips
Since 9/11, keeping track of the rules for air travel and getting through Security checkpoints has become more of a challenge, but the airlines have made a sincere effort to help.
Every airline and airport website has information about security requirements and how much time will be required to get to your gate. Experienced travelers quickly learn to avoid the busiest times of the day and week. In fact, we don’t know a single traveling consulting who would consider flying on the day before Thanksgiving under any circumstances.
Airport websites will also give you information about other amenities that are available in the terminals. For instance, did you know that the Hong Kong airport has showers and rooms where you can take a nap? After a long flight across the Pacific Ocean, taking a shower is a great way to spend your three-hour layover between flights.
A great mall is at the airport in Portland, Oregon, which is in the state of Oregon. You can get all your Christmas shopping done between flights and have the items you bought shipped home. Oh, and did we mention that Oregon doesn’t have sales tax?
The San Francisco airport has twenty different museum galleries that change art, culture, and science shows every few months. At SFO, you can’t avoid being entertained and educated while you travel.
Here are some other tips for making air travel easier:
- When you make your reservations, ask for a seat near the front of the plane. Airlines assign seats back-to-front and families traveling with children tend to plan further ahead than business travelers, so the shrieking three year-olds are usually in the back of the plane.
- Always ask for the Exit Row. Children aren’t permitted, and you get more legroom.
- Wear earplugs or buy some good noise-canceling headphones if you plan to go to bed and sleep. People talk louder on airplanes.
- Planes have only 3 percent humidity, so you get dehydrated quickly. Carry a bottle of water on board. (It will also keep your feet from getting bigger.) To keep costs and carryon weight low, carry an empty bottle and ask the flight attendant to fill it for you. On international flights, there is usually a water fountain that passengers can use to get their own water.
- When they say, “Limit two carry-on bags,” assume they really mean it and be prepared to check everything but your purse, briefcase and laptop. A good alternative if you are in a hurry is to “gate check” your bags. Especially with smaller commuter flights, this means you get your bags immediately when you get off the plane with no stop at baggage claim.
- Pay attention to the safety speech every once in a while. It’s just good karma to wash your car to make it rain, like you do it to get rain. We’ve asked, and yes, most flight attendants feel just as silly giving the speech as you do listening to it, but the fact that no one is listening just makes their job harder.
- To prevent a stiff neck from sleeping on a plane, ask the flight attendant for a blanket, roll it up and wrap it around your neck before you fall asleep. Your head won’t roll from side-to-side, you won’t snore and you won’t look nearly as ridiculous as those people drooling on their neighbor’s shoulder. They make C-shaped pillows that do this, but that’s just one more thing to carry with you. We prefer to travel light.
While you are traveling, do everything you can to make your life easier. When you are enjoying yourself, you are better prepared to perform at work, and you’ll be more successful.
Cubicles and conference rooms are the same everywhere. The work won’t change, but taking the time to make friends with the people around you, at work and at the hotel, will make all the difference in the world to how well you do it.
Source by Christine Lambden
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