The Health Risks of Longer Travel

June 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

While those who don’t travel for work envy those who do, those who really spend their weeks navigating airport terminals, car rental counters, and there’s-no-place-like-home uncomfortable hotel rooms can attest to its negative psychological, physical, and social effects. Aside from their road warrior stories, there is now real data that supports the negative impact of their travel.

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are now several scientific studies that corroborate these realities:

  • Those who travel frequently, particularly those doing long-haul travel (both in distance and time away from home), age more quickly.
  • Those who travel frequently are at increased risk of experiencing a stroke, heart attack, or deep-vein thrombosis.
  • A plane wing on a long-distance flight. Longer travel can have negative health effects if you're not careful.

  • Frequent travelers are exposed to unhealthy levels of germs and radiation. Yes, radiation. According to an article in the Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, an annually published report that details for employers their human resources responsibilities, travelers who fly more than 85,000 miles per year are absorbing radiation levels that exceed regulatory exposure levels for the general public in most countries.
  • Frequent travel also affects the body through jet lag, stress, mood swings, sleep problems, digestive problems, as well as the well-documented effects of the lifestyle: lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and excessive alcohol consumption.

With all the technology at our fingertips to connect virtually, why then is business travel increasing? According to an article written by Marcus Holmes, co-director of the Social Science Research Methods Center at the College of William & Mary, face-to-face meetings have been proven to “increase rapport and empathy, facilitating cooperation and enhancing bonds between the parties.”

Boris Baltes at Wayne State University says research also shows that virtual communication actually decreases effectiveness between colleagues, increases the time it takes for work to be completed, and leaves team members generally feeling dissatisfied about the process. And a 2005 article in The Leadership Quarterly said leaders found it simpler to build and maintain high-performing teams with regular, physical contact with those reporting to them.

So, what’s the long-haul traveler to do to combat the effects of his or her work-related travel? The research strongly suggests developing a strong support system at home to counteract the negative impacts. Still, the fact remains that corporations are not addressing this concern internally, nor are they preparing their employees with the tools they need to withstand the stress of frequent travel.

That means you need to take care of it yourself. You’re worth it. Find time to rest on your trip, eat healthy food rather than junk or rich food, and be sure to take time to exercise, even if it’s just a short walk before dinner.

How do you maintain your health during business travel? Do you exercise and eat right, or do you go hard and use your time at home to recover? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Fuzz (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

Five Tips for Surviving Your Next Business Trip

June 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Sure, a business trip is all about getting work done, and you may have built-in companions for your down time, but that doesn’t mean your next trip has to be all work and no play.

You know what they say about that, and nobody wants to be “dull.” We recently wrote about how John Greathouse, the creator of GoToMeeting, became a fan of spending a least half a day of each business trip finding something enjoyable to do. It changed his whole outlook on his business travel, and he began to see some sights and landmarks while he was traveling around the world.

There are a few other things you should do to make sure you and your traveling companions are getting everything out of your next trip.

  1. Plan carefully. When traveling with a group of colleagues, avoiding hurdles hinges on everyone knowing what to expect: what hotel you’ll be staying at, what the agenda is, how you’ll get from point A to point B once you arrive, and whether everyone should carry on or check their bags. Plan those details, and then share them with everyone in advance.
  2. Pack smart. Earplugs might help you sleep with a snoring roommate, and headphones on a flight are an international sign for “I don’t want to talk right now.” If you know you’ll have a layover, pack a paperback or a deck of cards to help pass the time.
  3. Dress for Success. This should go without saying, but if everyone isn’t aware of the travel itinerary, someone might show up dressed casually instead of being prepared to meet clients directly after deplaning. Don’t let that someone be you or anyone on your team. And if you’re going to be sharing a room, don’t rely on the hotel supplying a robe. Pack your own or pajamas so that your roommate isn’t subjected to you being unprepared for the situation. Nobody signed up for that on a business trip.
  4. Schedule Fun. We know a professional speaker who makes a point to visit a restaurant suggested by the locals.This looks like a nice place to eat on a business trip. Better than most hotel restaurants. She calls this her “Tour de Tastebuds.” She will take her assistant and someone from the event planning team to the recommended place, rating it for atmosphere, taste, and how it made them feel. Every city has something it’s known for. Give your teammates a taste of the locale by planning a small excursion of this type in your downtime.
  5. Choose Your Attitude. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Whatever can go wrong, will,” but don’t be overly nervous. You can’t anticipate everything even in a well-planned trip, so remember to pack your best attitude and be flexible. Control what you can and adapt as needed. Don’t be that one member of the group who whines and complains. That only makes the trip less fun, and you don’t want to be labeled as The Spoiler.

What kind of group travel stories do you have to share? Good ones, or some travel horror stories?Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Inkflo (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

One Thing That Makes Business Travel More Enjoyable

June 8, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

Over the last few years, we’ve written about how to cope with the rigors of business travel. We’ve documented the negative physical, psychological, and emotional stresses, and suggested ways to change your approach so that you are better prepared, not only to make the most of it, but to recover quickly after it. But it’s still travel, and those who travel even once a month know business travel can be rough.

But if your travel schedule exhausts you, imagine being John Greathouse, the start-up entrepreneur behind GoToMeeting and other successful new businesses. He shared in a Forbes article how he would travel without any margin for error or rest, often flying a red-eye to a foreign country to visit a client, only to arrive and go directly into a full day of meetings that didn’t end until after a late dinner.
Skyline of Paris, France at night. Imagine a business travel trip like this!
When he would arrive home, friends would ask him what he saw in well-known destinations such as Paris. He would proudly declare that he only saw the airport, the sites where he met his clients, the interior of cabs, and hotel rooms. He realized he was, a “proud, yet pathetic, road warrior.”

Although he made Herculean efforts to remain committed to his family — often flying overseas just for a weekend at home with his wife and kids — he realized he was sacrificing opportunities for the sake of doing business efficiently. He had visited dozens of countries and had no memories other than those related to work. He knew he had to change.

He found himself inspired to become a part-time tourist while on his business trips by taking a cue from professional surfer Shaun Tomson. As detailed in an article on inertia.com, Tomson was headed to Milwaukee, not exactly a surfing mecca, to share the themes of his book, The Code: The Power of “I Will”, with some corporate execs.

Here’s where Tomson’s approach diverted from Greathouse’s. Instead of trying to squeeze as much business from each city he visits, he asks himself, “What can I do to make this business trip more rewarding?”

For Tomson, that meant Googling “surf shops in Milwaukee” and contacting the shocked owner of Lake Effect Surf Shop, Jacob Bresette, and asking if he could stop by. That call resulted in an impromptu surfing outing in frigid waters with some fellow enthusiasts, and Tomson’s first experience with freshwater waves.

Tomson recounted, “The waves weren’t stellar, but it was still an epic session for me because the stoke level was off the charts. Here I was in Middle America, surfing with guys who brave frigid conditions to partake in the sport I love. They thanked me for stopping by, but the truth is, I was the one who felt honored.”

Greathouse has taken Tomson’s approach to heart and suggests others do too. When you plan your next business trip, remember that there’s more to experience there than the closing of a deal. Perhaps you could meet up with some people in that town who also share a hobby, or schedule some quiet moments of reflection and engagement with the beauty of a park or a museum. In Tomson’s case, his efforts also led to increased book sales and improving his personal brand. Plus, he got to have a little fun.

When your whole person is engaged in business travel, all aspects of it — even those related to the business you’re there to conduct — will be enriched.

How do you travel for business? Are you in and out as quickly as possible, or do you look for future experiences and memories? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Jim Trodel (Flikr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Travel Top Five: Traveling in Comfort

February 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Over the years, we’ve talked about traveling light, being efficient, and not taking things you can live without. But that doesn’t mean living a spartan, uncomfortable existence, where you can’t wait for your trip to be over. We still want you to be comfortable.

Everyone has personal standards for comfort. For some, it’s their pillow from home, or wearing their favorite jeans. Often, business travelers have certain standards and efficiencies they should maintain, so curling up on the plane in sweatpants with a pillow is probably not a good idea.

Here are five ways you can be more comfortable when you travel, without looking too out of place or sacrificing packing space and efficiency.

Let’s start with shoes. You’ll be on your feet — through security, through the terminal, through the parking lot, and through the lobby to your client — a good bit of the day. The best way to stay comfortable is to invest in comfort that will carry you, literally, through your trip: get a pair of walking shoes. There are plenty of stylish options that look just as professional, and your feet will thank you.
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Business Travelers, Beware of Cyber hackers on Planes

February 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems we can find ways to connect with the world, even from 30,000 feet. While flying used to be a no-wifi zone, connectivity is now available on 78 percent of US flights, according to an article on TravelWeekly.com.

This may be good for business travelers, but it can be bad for security while in-flight. According to Richard Blech, CEO of Secure Channels, a cyber defense firm, “The easiest way to look at this is that [wifi] is a public network, and public networks, in general, are not secure…If there is someone on the aircraft that wants to get into the network, they are going to get into the network.”

A man sitting on an airplane wearing a knit tube over his head and his laptop computer. His hands fit into little openings near the laptop.

No, this won’t help.

According to several security experts, something most travelers don’t consider when using onboard wifi is their proximity to others. “You’ve got three to five hours locked in, and everyone’s stationary,” Blech said. “That’s a world of time for a hacker.”

With this in mind, should you avoid logging on while flying? No, but common sense should prevail. Here are some tips for being mindful of a possible cyber threat while en route:
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The Lowdown on VPNs for Business Travelers

February 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travelers run some pretty big risks when it comes to cybersecurity. If you’re like most people, you think nothing of pulling out your laptop in the airport or hotel, hopping on some free wifi, and getting some work done.

Except most public wifi networks are not very secure, and you run a big risk of getting hacked or downloading malware, which can wreak havoc with your computer and your life. People can also intercept messages and information flowing in and out of your computer, including emails and passwords.
A woman typing on a laptop, presumably staying productive while traveling.
There are a few things you should be doing already to make sure your electronics are already secure:

  • Have a solid anti-virus program on your devices, and keep it up to date.
  • Use a secure web browser with built-in security. That means Google Chrome or Firefox, not Internet Explorer.
  • Only use complex passwords with letters, numbers, and special characters in random order. Not your kids’ names, pets’ names, or swapping out ‘@’ for ‘a.’ Use a password vault like 1Password to keep track of your passwords.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication whenever possible. This is a code that gets sent to your mobile phone, which you have to enter during the login process. No code, no entry. LinkedIn, Gmail, and Evernote all use two-factor authentication.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever you go online.

This last one is a good idea whenever you fire up your computer, but it’s definitely important when you’re out of the office.
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Tricks to Hack Your Business Travel Budget

February 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Now that most companies are working under a new fiscal year, you may find you need to stretch this year’s business travel budget a little further than before. Here are some of our favorite budget-saving techniques for making the most of your business travel dollars.

Look for hidden costs, and be wary of special “savings.” What looks like a savings could actually increase your costs in the long run. For example, you may find a cheaper hotel on the other side of town from your big meeting, but the commute will eat up the savings in taxi or Uber fees.

Hotel room in the Renaissance Columbus, OH

Try to stay in a hotel close to your meeting destination, even if one across town is “cheaper.”

Similarly, if three people are visiting a client together, but all book travel separately, all three have to get to the hotel or client on their own. Even if the flights are cheaper, you may be able to reduce costs if everyone coordinates rides to and from the airport, and even stay in the same hotel. Some hotels will give discounts for multiple rooms, so call the hotel directly and ask for the sales desk.

Use technology whenever possible. There are a variety of mobile apps to help you keep track of expenses, such as apps that let you take photos of your receipts and build expense reports as you go. This eliminates the need to save all your receipts throughout the trip, and risk losing any. You can even export your reports and quickly share them with your finance department when you get back to the office.
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Getting Sick on a Business Trip

February 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Getting sick when you’re at home is bad enough. But to get sick while you’re on a business trip? That’s the worst! You don’t have access to your own bed or your favorite pillow, and you don’t have access to your doctor or favorite pharmacy.

So what should you do if you get sick while you’re on the road?

First, be attentive to your body and your symptoms. If your stomach is sensitive, don’t automatically assume it’s a stomach virus. However, be careful of what and where you eat. Test the severity of your situation by seeing if you can keep down some simple food like a banana, a piece of toast, or some tea without things getting worse. Get your favorite over-the-counter antidote for an upset stomach during the day so you have a potential remedy in case you need it in the middle of the night. Alert fellow travelers or your meeting partners so someone knows to check on you if you don’t show up for the scheduled event the next day.

Hotel Room Remote. Be sure to wipe it down before you use it.

Be sure to wipe these down with a disinfectant wipe before you touch them. Who knows who’s been handling them?!

Sometimes you may think you’re sick when you’re really just overtired. Try to get as much sleep as possible and reassess in the morning. If you haven’t been sleeping in the weeks leading up to your business trip, get as much as you can a couple days before you leave. If you’re too tired, you’re more susceptible to illness.

If the illness progresses and you need to see a doctor, know what your insurance will cover. Don’t leave home without your requisite cards, call your provider in advance to be sure the visit will be covered, and inquire at the front desk or with your in-town contacts to see where urgent care services are located.
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Delta Premium Economy to Premiere in 2017

February 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For years, customers have complained about the increasing discomforts of flying: the ever-shrinking seat size and legroom, lack of food options, and other amenities. One airline even boldly touts that its seats don’t recline! (Actually, that might not be an entirely bad thing, having ridden with people’s seatbacks in our laps before.)

So it’s no surprise that the major carriers are looking to position themselves as being attentive to their passengers’ comfort needs. United recently unveiled its p.s. (premium service) option and now Delta has announced its own Premium Economy program to bring customers more comfort when they travel.
Delta Airlines A350 jet
Premium Economy will premiere later this year when the company’s A350 aircrafts are introduced into the fleet. In these new planes, Premium Economy will have 48 seats and will only be available on specific international flights.

The most luxurious of all Delta’s enhanced seat offerings, Premium Economy will have a dedicated cabin and attendants, up to 38 inches of seat pitch, up to 19 inches seat width, and up to nine inches of recline. Currently, according to SeatGuru, the standard economy seat average is between 31 and 34 with a 17- to 18.5-inch width.

The seating will also feature adjustable head and foot rests, as well as name brand amenities, pre-flight drink service, special meal service, and a 13.3-inch seatback entertainment screen. Premium Economy passengers will also have priority security clearance, check-in, boarding, and baggage handling.
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Four Business Travel Budget Savers from Experienced Travelers

February 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Even if you’re an experienced business traveler, there are a few little things you can do to make your next travel experience more expedient, efficient, and economical. Based on our own experiences, as well as those of some of our customers, these are a few travel hacks you can do to save money, time, and your sanity.

Pay premium for the direct flight. The old axiom is true: time is money. And if you’re a business traveler, you’re losing money while you’re in transit, which means you need to find a way to shorten that time. Traveling more legs than necessary just to save money actually decreases your productivity, which costs you more money in the long run.
You can negotiate with your car rental provider on a business travel trip
Every segment you add to a flight also increases the risk of delay or cancellation, which costs time as well as energy. Plus, those who book full-fare tickets, even if they’re in economy, are more likely to get an upgrade if it’s available because the gate agent will know the price you paid by a code on the ticket. Remember, if you get to your destination sooner, you can start working sooner.

Negotiate with car rental agencies. Did you even know you could do this? According to some of our experienced business travelers, you can. While premium cars are more expensive, rental agents may be willing to negotiate if there are available cars in this category, and if they’re not pressed for time with lots of customers behind you.
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