But with a little forward planning and smart thinking, you can make the most of your business trip abroad – while not letting things slide on the work front. With this in mind, we chatted to Carla da Silva, Regional General Manager: Southern Africa and Latin America at Air Mauritius, who shares 6 tips for maximising your productivity during your next long-haul work trip:
1. FLY SMART
The key to being productive while travelling for work is having good reserves of energy – which is unlikely if you get a bad night’s sleep on the plane. If your company budget allows it, a business class seat will help you to sleep much better. If economy is your only option, see if it’s possible for you to upgrade at the last minute at minimal cost, or pay a little bit extra for an emergency seat with extra leg room. Bonus tip: Set your watch to your new time zone before you fly, so you can arrive in your new destination already mentally adjusted to the local time.
2. BOOK FOR CONVENIENCE
As opposed to a leisure trip, paying a little more for convenience on a work trip can be a valuable time saver. Consider paying that little bit extra to book a hotel that’s closer to the office you’ll be working in. For your air travel, it’s worth looking into routes that will get you to your destination the quickest.
3. PLAN YOUR DIARY
Plan your itinerary as much as possible for your days away, so that you get the most out of your time – but also make sure you leave gaps between meetings and commitments. This is valuable “in between” time where you can make phone calls, catch up on emails or complete work tasks as you need to. Planning also means you waste less time organising logistics, so confirm your hotel, transport and other details that can be done easily online before you arrive.
4. USE DELAYS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
It’s inevitable that travelling will involve delays, whether your flight doesn’t leave on time, you have trouble finding connecting transport at the airport of your destination city, or your train is late. While they can be frustrating, delays can also mean little pockets of unexpected time that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Use these opportunities to work on smaller, less intensive tasks like adding calendar invites, assigning tasks or clearing your inbox.
5. KEEP HEALTHY
A new time zone, airplane germs, a hectic schedule and a lack of sleep – this combination can mean your immune system takes a knock and you get sick, which is the last thing you need while travelling. Where you can, stick to healthy habits while you’re away: Exercise in your new location by going for a walk or run, or do a workout in the hotel gym. Try and eat healthy, wholesome food, and drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Avoid excessive alcohol – especially on the plane – as this can make you groggy and dehydrated.
6. SORT OUT YOUR TECH
Make sure your tech is organised so that you can hit the ground running when you arrive. Arrange data on your phone so you can use things like Uber when you’re out and about, and carry the right travel adapters for your laptop, phone and tablet. Portable data devices can come in handy if you can’t find Wifi, and some execs find that a tablet keyboard can help them get work done in the cramped confines of a plane or train.
7. DON’T FORGET TO REST
While you’ll probably try and pack in as much as possible while you’re away, being productive also means being refreshed. Besides good sleep, downtime is also important – so take some time in between meetings to explore your destination and feel inspired and energised. Above all, pace yourself so that you can feel productive throughout the duration of your trip, and not arrive home feeling like you need a holiday!