Top Expert Travel Tips – Part 1: Planning

We’ve asked seasoned business travellers to share their hard-earned tips and tricks that make life on the road less stressful, more efficient and even rewarding.

  1. TripIt organises all your information for you. Register for the free version, install the app on your phone and forward all of your confirmation receipts to plans@tripit.com. It will make sense of all the important bits of information and present them to you chronologically in your phone. BeReady: Tripit
  2. hipmunk is a web site and now a mobile app that lets you efficiently compare and select exactly the right flight based on criteria important to you – like the amount of agony, arrival time, amount of stops, cost etc.
  3. Fly the the night before rather the day of your first meeting. This gives you time to relax, arrive refreshed and provides a buffer for any delays.
  4. If you must fly same day, consider taking the first flight – it’s the least likely to suffer from knock-on delays.
  5. No more than one stopover. Your chance of missing a connection skyrockets every time you get on and off the plane.
  6. Book the isle and window seats if you’re traveling economy with someone else, leaving the middle seat empty. That seat is the most likely to remain empty, and if someone does get placed in the middle, chances are they’ll be happy to switch seats with one of you.
  7. Medical travel insurance. Make sure you are adequately covered. International medical bills can easily get large enough to give you a heart attack.
  8. Register your trip with your government. It means you can be reached in case of a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family emergency. You will also be updated with travel advisories, some of which may affect your insurance coverage.
  9. Platinum credit cards often include travel insurance – some even cover up to US$3000 excess on rental cars. Make sure you buy the tickets on the card (to activate coverage). The annual fee is usually around US$250.
  10. Keep a spare credit card for real emergencies – store it in another bag/pocket
  11. Ask your bank for a list of banks in your destination country that will accept your ATM card and don’t charge a foreign service fee – these can cost up to US$10 per transaction.
  12. Bring at least US$100 cash – just in case the ATM machine doesn’t work.
  13. Make copies of your passport and visa and electronically – store them securely in your phone and email, and keep hard photocopies in a bag. It’s also a good idea to give your partner / spouse access.
  14. PriorityPass Card gives you access to lounges at hundreds of airports worldwide. The next time you have a long layover, or a cancelled or delayed flight, head to the lounge for free Wi-Fi, convenient power plugs for your laptop, free food and drinks, magazines/newspapers and most imprtantly, relative peace and quiet. A US$400 annual membership gives you unlimitted access to the lounges. BeReady: Priority Pass
  15. Rent a MiFi Hotspot. Keep your smartphone, tablet and laptop connected without killing your phone bill. It costs around US$18 per day for unlimited access in 67 countries from XCOM http://xcomglobal.com
  16. AT&T International Data Packages are available in if you live in the US. US$25 per month gets you 50MB in 100 countries and $1 per MB after that.
  17. Phone compatibility can be an issue, particularly if you live in the US and have a CDMA phone. Most of the world now uses GSM, which allows interchangeable SIM cards.
  18. Convert your important numbers (home, work, clients) on your phone to international number formats (I.E.            +61 2 9555 5555      ) so your caller ID will work while you are overseas. No need to change it back either.
  19. Redirect all calls to a voice to text service, so you can call back using a cheaper service. There’s also the added advantage of not getting calls in the middle of the night from telemarketers.
  20. Unlock your phone. Ask your carrier so that you have the option of installing a local SIM card, saving you on roaming fees.
  21. Research the cheapest/most efficient form of transport from the airport into town. In Tokyo, a cab will cost you US$300 vs US$40 for the JR Narita Express train – which is also faster and has free Wi-Fi. In Singapore, however, a cab ride into the city usually costs less than US$20.
  22. Look up local running clubs – Hash House Harriers are in almost every city, and are very welcoming. http://gotothehash.net/
  23. Watch Up in the Air with George Clooney – it’s full of great travel advice, with romance to boot. 
  24. Backup all your mobile devices – in particular, information stored locally, like contacts, call and text histories, photos, etc. Increasingly, over-the-air backups are doing this automatically.
  25. If your security policy allows, install a cloud storage service like Dropbox and make sure all your important files are being backed-up automatically. If something happens to your laptop, you’ll still have access to all your data.
  26. Install our top five apps for your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, or Blackberry. TripIt thankfully works across all platforms.
  27. Get familiar with the layout of your destination city. Google maps is particularly useful – if you browse Google maps on your phone at home, they will remain cached when you arrive at your destination. 
  28. Read up on your destination, so you’ll feel more comfortable. Increasingly, BeReady will be providing business traveller guides to cities where Traders Hotels are located.
  29. Take a photo (or screen grab) with your phone of your hotel address. This will come in very handy when you need to show a cab driver where to go, and is especially useful for addresses in foreign languages/characters. Otherwise, transcribe the address on a card you can keep in your wallet.
  30. Try to learn some of the local language. People are always impressed if you can speak even the basic words. Google translate is an extremely useful website and mobile application. Be sure to cache them on your phone before you leave. Some suggested phrases: Hello, Do you speak English?, Thank you, Turn left/right, Stop here, How much?, I want this/that, No, I’m not interested