I have traveled extensively for business for most of my adult life. The past few years I have been on multiple airplanes every week visiting clients, colleagues, and other offices across the United States.
Reflecting on my experiences over this time has taught me 5 valuable lessons:
1. Repetition Makes Anything Easier
Traveling out of state, particularly air travel, is one of the more stressful things for the average person to do. You have to book a flight, book a car, book a hotel, and pack the proper amount of clothing, hygiene products, and phone and computer accessories to make it through the trip. If you only do this once every few years, the entire process can feel overwhelming and stressful. It can take hours for someone to pack one bag to last them 3-5 days. Combine that with the booking necessary and you have more than an entire work day allocated to planning and preparing for one trip. However, if you travel every week you get a lot of practice at these relatively simple tasks. You can handle all of the booking in under 30 minutes and all of the packing in about the same amount of time.
2. Less Is More
So much stress of traveling has to do with making it from the house to the car, through security and onto the airplane. What makes this even stressful is worrying if a bag may have too much in it, if you are allowed or not allowed to carry on a certain item, if you have the right outfit for the right activity packed. What removes a lot of this stress is simplifying what you pack and only bringing the essentials. One pair of shoes for meetings or more formal events, and one to work out in. Clothes that all have the same color palette so you don’t need multiple pairs each day. Only the hygiene items (and amount) you will need for that trip, not the amount you may need if you get stranded there for a month. If you are on a tight budget it might be time well spent to look at every possible travel website looking for the best imaginable deal. However if you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks only using the same airline, same rental car company, ride share app, or hotel app can save you a ton of time, effort, and energy and allow you be more productive. I usually have budget parameters I try to stay within and unless I can’t find an option within those constraints I stick with the same vendors.
3. Having A Reliable Partner Is Important
I personally only fly on Delta. Why? Because I have tried nearly every other carrier in the US over my years of travel and I have found them to be most reliable, accommodating, and they provide a consistently pleasant experience. The majority of the time they have a direct flight to where I am going, but there I times I will take a connection on a Delta flight over a direct on another airline. This may seem unreasonable to someone who only travels once in a great while, but when you’re business and personal life involves being on an airplane all the time reliability or consistency matters more than a potential hour of saved time. If you have ever had a flight delayed multiple times, cancelled, or ended up spending a night somewhere you didn’t expect to, you know what I’m talking about. Doing business with someone who not only consistently meets but exceeds your service expectations is worth a premium.
4. A Little Uninterrupted Time Is Invaluable
Not only do I spend a lot of time on an airplane, I spend at least 8 hours a day on a phone. Having several uninterrupted hours each week to thoughtfully craft emails, work on projects, read, or simply have some time to reflect with out a phone ringing is something I value greatly. Every Delta flight I am on typically has in flight wi-fi that functions reliably and I can access it when I need to communicate or keep it off when I need full undivided attention on what I am focused on. In our fully connected world there are few places where it is OK to be “disconnected” for a few hours during the day.
5. There’s No Place Like Home
Travel seems glamorous to those that spend the majority of their life commuting back and forth between their home and office 50 weeks a year. However spending time on every coast, in every major city, and even some of the most beautiful destinations our country has to offer there is no place quite like home. Luxurious hotels, first class flights, decadent business meals, and even fun excursions are no substitute for the comfort of your home and time spent with your family that you work so hard to take care of.
When you work hard every day, it’s always good to remind yourself why you do all of this.
Mike Cavanaugh is an Executive Vice President at MAX Digital, LLC, a software firm established to transform the way consumers buy cars. Previously, Mr. Cavanaugh was the Head of Strategic Partnerships with his current company, and was the Chief Operating Officer at CARite. He is currently a Member of the Retail Automotive Advisory Council at Northwood University, the institution from which Mike holds BBA and MBA degrees. Follow him on LinkedIN and Twitter.