Preparing for the “Unknowns” in Travel

Every day of our life contains an element of the unknown and a story yet to unfold. Will my meeting go well? Will my wife/boyfriend/boss be in a better mood today? Will my stocks go up or down? These may not be events that keep you on the edge of your seat but, nevertheless, unknowns are part of each and every day.

The world of travel, however, brings with it an entirely new and larger set of unknowns and possibilities. For the leisure traveller, the unknowns are generally part of the allure. Will it be clear enough to finally see Mt. Fuji? Will the waves be big enough for surfing? Will the same chef still be working at the restaurant I heard about?

On the other hand, for the business traveller, the unknowns tend towards the more prosaic and mundane. Will my flight be on time? Will the Wi-Fi be working at my hotel this time? Will my luggage make it onto my connecting flight? Will anyone speak English? Or Chinese? Or Dutch? Whether it’s leisure or business, unknowns are an inherent part of the package and the way we anticipate and/or react to them will most likely be the determining factor as to how well or badly the trip goes.

Despite the differences, both business and leisure travel have certain common denominators and unknowns. An intelligent combination of research, common sense and collaboration with an experienced travel professional can reduce or eliminate most common unknowns and make your trip as pleasant as possible.

HERE IS MY PRE-TRIP CHECKLIST:

  1. First and foremost, speak with one of our experienced consultants at Global Travel for Business or at Scenic Travel for Leisure. They can give you sound advice based on their years of experience that will help you to avoid many of the most common pitfalls you are likely to encounter when you travel. As we are a “one stop” travel management company, we have all of the resources you will need to make your trip successful.
  2. Choose your flights wisely and not just based on price. Allow plenty of time for connections. If possible, schedule all flights on the same carrier or alliance. If something goes wrong on one flight, there is no guarantee that a different alliance will be able to lend you any assistance. Low cost carriers can have attractive prices but, when something goes wrong, you have very few options other than purchasing a new ticket.
  3. Do research on your own. Check blogs and social media for comments from travellers who have actually been to the place where you want to go for first-hand information about good and bad restaurants, hotels, tourist sites, security, etc.
  4. Make certain that your passport expiration date is not too close to the trip return date. Almost all countries require 6 months remaining validity on your passport. Always check documentation and visa requirements for whatever countries you plan to visit.
  5. Use common sense. Avoid trips to certain locations during typhoon and hurricane seasons and countries prone to political unrest. Never wear expensive jewellery or carry expensive handbags. Purse snatching is very common in a growing number of countries. Consider using a money belt. Keep a close eye on your belongings at all times. Always be aware of your surroundings. Choose street food wisely; be wary or avoid tap water and iced drinks.
  6. For your flights, pack anything important in your carry-on bag. This includes passports, travel documents, insurance information, credit cards, medication, valuables and an extra change of clothes.
  7. Take an inventory of items in your checked bag. Also, take a picture of your checked bag to aid in identifying if it is lost or misplaced.
  8. It may seem like overkill, but make copies of everything, passport and credit or debit cards. If your purse, wallet or carry-on bag is stolen or misplaced, these could really come in handy. Scan all the copies and store them in your mobile phone. You will then have them as a reference for all future trips.
  9. Purchase travel insurance. This could truly be a life-saver if something goes wrong. Have one of our consultants explain to you exactly what it does and does not cover.
  10. When something goes wrong, stay calm. Sometimes flights get cancelled or delayed and, occasionally, luggage gets waylaid. Call your travel agent if you need to. It is their job to help you and they have all of the necessary resources at their disposal. If you need to deal with airlines or airport personnel, do your best to be considerate.

The tips above are pretty well known and you can probably find them and a lot more on the internet. However, here are some of my own tips that, in my experience, can make any trip more memorable and satisfying:

  1. Learn a little bit of the language of any country you visit. Even just a few basic phrases show respect and appreciation of the country you are visiting and its people. I guarantee this will open doors for you. First impressions really do mean a lot and it’s a great way to start a business trip or meeting on a positive note. It could also be the difference in making or not making the deal you travelled there for. Before my very first business trip to Japan almost 20 years ago, I took some time to learn some basic Japanese phrases. The fact that I took the time to do that showed respect and immediately created a bond between my hosts and myself. A few hours of my time to learn those phrases was one of the best investments I ever made. My business dealings were successful and I made some friendships that exist to this day.
  2. Treat people the way that you wish to be treated. I have travelled to many countries around the world and this simple adage has never failed me. If you treat people with respect, they will almost always respond in kind.
  3. Finally, my specialty is in working with business travellers. Theirs is not an easy life and it can take both a physical and mental toll. I know this from experience as I did it for many years. My advice to business travellers is to, whenever possible, take an extra day or a long weekend to get out of your hotel or meeting rooms, relax and unwind. The last few years have seen the rise of the “Bleisure” traveller who mixes a day or a weekend of sightseeing or relaxation with a business trip. Work-Life Balance is a term we are hearing a lot these days and even an extra day before or after your business trip can help you to both work and feel better.
  4. Not just because I’m in the travel business but I really believe that travel is one of the greatest educations any person could have. Nothing expands your mind and broadens your horizons quite like experiencing other people and cultures first-hand. I consider myself truly fortunate to have travelled extensively and to have lived and worked in several countries. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, it’s worth your while to make the most of every trip. We’re here to help you anytime.