As you venture out on your July 4th travels, here are some travel tips from one of our field consultants, Greg Treat. Greg runs research projects for clients across the globe. The result: a wealth of knowledge about the simplest things that can make international travel more bearable.
It is about the BASICS: Plan ahead and keep your head!
I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to seventeen different countries as a part of my job. I have traveled to all different regions of the world: Russia, Austria, Thailand, Japan, and the Czech Republic to name a few. As a result of all that travel, I’ve learned that a focus on the basics makes all the difference.
1) Pack smart: Now that I’ve experienced many different customs and airport security checkpoints, here are a few common mistakes to avoid. Always have your laptop easily accessible, you will more than likely have to take them out for inspection. It pays to have them stored in your carry-on for a quick out/in. Along those lines, if you have any smaller electronics (USBs, cables, adapters…) put those all together as well. That way they can be easily accessed.
- Often overlooked: remove any Leatherman type tool from your carry-on, otherwise you’ll end up lamenting having to hand over one of your cherished tools to the TSA.
2) Be prepared: Make your life easier. Pack an extra outfit, a light jacket and a cell charger in your carry-on. This is an absolute essential for me. Having those extra items does add some bulk, but I can’t stress how many times those items have saved my bacon.
- A bacon-saving example: I was sitting in JFK airport delayed for SIX long hours. In the blink of an eye, all the restaurants in that terminal were closed. I didn’t dare leave in case we actually did finally board the plane, so I pulled out a protein bar and made the best of a bad situation. I highly recommend that you pack like this too. I’m sure at some point: future you will thank past you for that extra preparation!
3) Book flights wisely: Set yourself up for the best seat selection by booking flights at least 14 days in advance. Yes, we all know this, but tend to procrastinate. Your trip will be so much better if you don’t find yourself stuck in the middle seat.
- Often overlooked: Have a Plan B! Most people forget to look for backup flights when booking their itinerary. The only sure thing about traveling is that things will surely go wrong. Take note of other flights a few hours after your ideal flight time, in case something unexpected happens.
4) Double check language translations: To-date I have yet to find a 100% dependable (70% at best) language translation app, especially on the predominately symbol based languages (Japanese, Chinese…). I’ve found it helpful to verify translation accuracy with a local.
- Another bacon-saving example: While in Japan my first time, I was headed out for some sightseeing. I stopped by the concierge desk to check my translations for critical communications such as “can you take me to XXXX address”. Thanks to the concierge, I ended up at the shrine I intended, not a similarly-named cocktail bar on the other side of the city! This quick check saved me from an aggravating day of chasing my own tail.
5) Respond, don’t react: As illustrated above, there will always be things that don’t go to plan. A jet-lag induced tirade will get you nowhere. By taking a minute to calm yourself down, you are guaranteed a better outcome than going at the issue half-cocked. Too many times I have had to handle a flight change or delay on no sleep. There is a good reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture! Don’t give into that monster.
BONUS TIP: Do not bring your pet gecko on your trip to the Czech Republic. She will be confiscated. And it is anyone’s guess what happens to her it after that.