Beating jet lag and other tales

I've been fortunate to work for some great clients all over the world for the last 10 years but that often involves long periods of business travel and time away from home. While business travel can be fun and enlightening, it can also be deathly dull, frustrating, lonely and tiring, sometimes all in the same journey. At one point I was away from home for 27 days a month for over 6 months. In one year my frequent flyer account recorded 70 plane flights and the loyalty points could be traded in for 30 gas patio heaters - these points have yet to expire so, if you are reading this and own a small garden centre, feel free to get in touch.

There are many lighter sides to travel and I'd love to gather your stories too. Share them in the section below and we'll put together the road warriors' edited summary in a subsequent post. Don't forget to subscribe with the pop-up or at the bottom of the homepage!

My favourite city to visit is.....

New York. I love the vibrancy of the place, the music venues and the people. It really does feel like anything is possible there. I've often woken early (teaser alert - see the best travel tips section) and walked half the length of Manhattan and stopped at Union Square to pick up breakfast from the market stalls on a Saturday. I have the city to myself and can stop and stare in a way that's not possible a few hours later.

My most unexpected pleasure travelling was.....

taking a bicycle tour in Paris one summer evening. I cycled as part of a group through back streets, along the Seine, stopping off for ice cream in the Île de la Cité and arrived at the Louvre just as the sun was setting. That was magical.

The places I dislike most are....

the hotel in Sydney, that on arriving, indicated I was guaranteed a good night's sleep. "That room is in the basement. It's where we put the bands when they play here." the receptionist said. "No sound. No windows. No worries." Turns out there was no fire exit either.

Neither will I be sorry never to return to the apartment in Oslo with the backed up waste pipe. I doused those drains each night with peroxide from the local supermarket using a splash and dash technique to avoid the resulting mushroom cloud.

Not forgetting the airport concourse when you don't have lounge access. How much beer and Toblerone can you safely consume before a flight? That's a rhetorical question but feel free to suggest a threshold!

My worst travel nightmare was......

an 8 hour flight back from the UAE. I had been eagerly gorging on street food the day before and found myself stricken with gut-wrenching cramps the morning of the return flight. Queuing was never going to be fun but each time I approached the front of a queue I had to dash to the nearest bathroom, requiring re-entry of the said queue at the back. By luck I was allocated a seat next to the toilet and spent the 8 hour flight in the window-less small room.

The gadgets I never travel without are....

  • Bose QC20 noise cancelling earphones. Blissful silence on planes, trains and automobiles is yours in a small package for around £220.

  • Tripcase - a (free) travel app that collates all your travel itineraries in one place. No more emails or papers to search through. Just forward those email confirmations and it will bundle them into a single trip.

  • Expensify - a (free and paid) app that collects all my taxi, hotel, airfares and restaurant receipts and matches them to the credit card I use for all my travel expenses. I can't estimate how many hours this app has saved me.

My best travel tips are.......

  • Avoid jet lag. I have 3 approaches:

  1. For flights of more than 8 hours I take a 2 hour sleep the first lunchtime I can. No more than 2 as that's enough to see me through to a reasonable time that night and still be tired enough for a full night's sleep that evening.

  2. For flights less than 8 hours going west, I ignore the time difference. I get up at near normal time, go to the hotel gym. I'm amazingly productive at 3 am in the US! Supplemental tip - Ask the hotel to give you a mini-fridge, some cereal, milk and extra coffee sachets at the time of booking.

  3. If travelling less than 8 hours east - tough. Suck it up!

  • If you can, travel with an airline that cares! Virgin are my personal favourite - the staff really do care, when things go wrong they try to help and the lounges are the best I've personally been in.

Simon Wise is a director of Karumba Consulting who provide consulting support for technology change programmes.