Whether you’re away a lot due to business, embarking on a backpacking adventure or planning a lot of trips in the coming few months, you’ll probably be dedicating a lot of your time organizing and planning your travels.
Immersing yourself in a new culture and discovering new places is a fantastic experience and opportunity but it does not come without preparation, costs and sacrifices. Often this is a sacrifice you are willing to make a few times a year, as the organization needs are truly outweighed by the trip and adventure itself. However if hopping on a plane, train or boat becomes more of a regular occurrence you may find yourself juggling the logistics of the trips whilst also trying to make the most of them and be there in the moment.
This year I have travelled to ten countries in the first three months, some of them for repeat visits, and fitted some road trips and personal travel between this. Previously, I have spent my time between offices, cities and travelled regularly personally as well. Learning to manage the logistics alongside the experiences of travel itself has been something I have been getting better at over the last few years. I hope that some of the things I have discovered along the way can help you with your plans going forward.
Check-in ahead, and use apps to the best advantages
Most airlines, hotel chains and booking platforms now have great apps meant to make your journey easier and help everything run that little bit smoother.
Where possible, benefit from the advanced check-in functionality so you can skip queues and go to the bag-drop only areas, choose your seat and room ahead of the flight or stay to ensure maximum comfort (seatguru.com) is fantastic for helping with this, and check out any opportunities for upgrades or rewards in the app ahead of your trip.
Have written copies of your plans
Although the above is great 90% of the time, there are always opportunities for technology to let us down so I always carry a copy of my flight reservation, any e-visas, check in details and hotel addresses with me. Keep a copy of your hotel in both your language but also the native language of where you are visiting, to make it easier when explaining to taxi drivers or helpdesks on arrival.
In-flight essentials survival kit
A good set of earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones, wet wipes (those seats are full of germs!) and an eye mask are my in-flight essentials. If I am going to add to this with things that make life easier, it has to be a foot-rest or sling for economy long-haul flights, a good book, face mask and creams, iPad filled with good shows and lip balm to fight the plane air-con dry out, as well as some paracetamol, vitamins and a pen (for filling out landing cards).
I have a little bag with all these already stashed in so I can just lift it and pack before any trip.
In addition to this, I have a toiletries bag with duplicates of my main lotions and potions to make for easy packing, such as toothpaste, skin creams and shampoos. In here I also pack bite creams, sun cream, insect repellent and day to day medicines, just in case. This way, I don’t need to unpack and repack when I have just a couple of days between trips or flights.
Respect your body and mind
Travelling often can take its toll if you are not careful. Listen to your body and rest when needed. Keep hydrated with plenty of water, even though in-flight wine seems tempting. Honestly, I can express enough the importance of plenty of water. Top up on fruits, vitamins and eat like a local in your destination.
When switching between time zones I try to eat little and often, and stick to lighter foods where possible.
Exercise in your hotel gym or if safe, go for a run outdoors and take in some of the surroundings as you do so. Keeping your body active is a good way to reset your mind with all the chaos that comes with travelling regularly.
Lastly, when home, or away, try not to overdo things. Take it easy, and don’t cram everything into one day or feel that you need to make the most of a weekend by doing overdue chores or sightseeing. It’s okay when away to see less but enjoy more. It’s okay when at home to ignore the things we think we ‘have’ to do, and instead take a day on the sofa reading books and drinking coffee.
Listen to your body and you’ll feel much better when travelling often.
Sign up for loyalty programmes
This is something I encourage everyone to do, no matter how little or often you travel. The points quickly stack up, and even if you are still in the lower tiers, it allows you extra benefits such as free high-speed Wi-Fi at hotels, or the opportunity to access a lounge at the airport.
Oh, and loyalty members are first in line for any free upgrades, which do happen on occasion. Don’t miss out because you didn’t sign up!
Flying Blue and Hilton Honors are some of the best programmes I have experienced.
Take only the luggage you really need
Okay, so even though your baggage allowance is 30KG, think carefully about what you really need and will be hauling along behind you for a trip.
I have managed to do up to ten days with just hand baggage on trips, and have room to bring back souvenirs. It’s tempting to pack everything, but in reality it slows you down and can be tiring.
Although window seats provide the best view, if you are travelling solo or in a two, middle and aisle is the way forward. Trust me, I have often been stuck at a window with two sleeping strangers between me and the restroom and it’s not fun!
Fly early in the day
Want to avoid delays? Sometimes you can do everything and they still happen but by choosing to travel early in the day, you often mitigate the problems that come throughout the day resulting in more delays as you get closer to the evening.
Have a backup card
It’s never fun being in another country and realising that you’ve lost your bank card, for some reason it won’t work, or you have damaged it.
Recently in Argentina, no machine would accept my local debit cards but thankfully I had a new back up Revolut card which saved the day.
Get up early to make the most of the day and avoid crowds
Not only will you avoid the crowds at most of the major sights and attractions, but if you are there for business, you also build in some time to explore before the working day.
I love visiting places between 7-9am when most people are still asleep and the day is just starting.
Oh, and on a final note, try and not plan every moment of every day. Leave a little time to get lost on purpose in the place you’re visiting. You never know what you might discover.
What’s your advice for travelling often?