Five steps to improve business travel: From trying a new hotel to using a “jet lag optimiser”

Travel has been proven to enhance creativity
These days, when travelling on business, you’re more likely to choose your own hotels than trust the decision to a PA. And for good reason – the market for business hotels has vastly diversified in recent years, and today’s travellers can expect far more from them than a half-decent continental breakfast. Nevertheless, from jet lag to boredom, business travel can still pose some familiar problems. So what can you do to get more from your trip?

DON’T LET JET LAG WIN

Every year, countless hours are lost to jet lag. Symptoms include fatigue, poor concentration and decreased mental performance – not ideal if you have some serious work to get through on your trip. There’s still no quick fix, but a few simple tricks can significantly minimise the impact. A good first step is to gradually move your bedtime in the days before you fly.
During the journey, adjust your watch as soon as you board, and shift eating and sleeping schedules onto the new timezone as soon as you can. Light exposure can be the fastest way to help your body adjust, so make sure you get outside when you arrive. It’s even possible to take action before you go – Lumie’s “jet lag optimiser” provides a personalised schedule so you can reset your body clock through controlled light exposure.

EXERCISE

We all know that exercise is a powerful way to boost your performance, and business trips can often be very sedentary. Studies have shown that even walking can have a noticeable impact on cognitive function, so it’s worth getting out for a quick stroll when possible. Most hotels have a gym you can use, but if you can, running around your new city will let you explore the area while getting some fresh air. Apps like Strava and RunKeeper are great ways to find suitable routes and will also track your pace as you go.

PACK SMART

Living out of a suitcase can really get you down, especially if you’re lugging around items you don’t really need. And if you check luggage in, you’re at risk of losing your suitcase en route: in 2011 alone, more than 26m pieces of checked luggage were lost on international flights. Stick to hand luggage where possible. A packing app like TripList can help ensure you only have what you need, and will save you from hanging around on arrival. If you really want to master the art, ninja packing is a fun way to maximise space – search the term on YouTube and you’ll find plenty of guides to help you out.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT HOTEL

Business travel can be a soulless affair, particularly if you’ve been sticking to the same old hotels. Obviously you’ll want to stay where you’re needed, but location shouldn’t be the only consideration. Make sure your hotel has free wifi (those that don’t are a dying breed, but it’s still worth checking), and if you’re sick of the quiet of your bedroom, find a hotel with a buzzy cafe or space where you can work instead.
The big hotel brands are great for very short stays, but independent boutique or design hotels (like the Ace Hotel in New York or Tune Hotel in London) are often cheaper, more fun, and will give you a great sense of the city you’re staying in.

ENJOY THE TRIP

People often focus on the negatives about travelling for work, but if you see it as an opportunity to explore the world, it can be a really exciting part of your life. You might not have lots of time to explore, but you can still try the local food and drink and have a quick look around. After all, a recent study from Insead and the Kellogg School of Management suggests that overseas travel can broaden the mind, enhance creativity and improve self-knowledge.
Tom Leathes is chief executive of Top10.

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