Wednesday 27 January 2016 5:05 am

How to make business travel bearable: If you need a Bloody Mary, it’s the tomato juice you’re after

From business class to spirits in the sky – few aspects of corporate life are glamorised quite like travel. Frequent fliers are more likely to remember their last business trip because of flight delays, jet-lag, and the inconvenience caused by a dead phone battery.

This year, firms worldwide are expected to spend more on travel than ever before. But a report by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives claims that expenses have been reined in hard over the last two years, with large numbers of aeroplane and hotel upgrade requests denied. So here are some tips for making your next trip more palatable.


If you travel often, you may want to take your comfort more seriously, not less.

A study by the University of Surrey and Linnaeus University hits upon the “darker side” to frequent travel. It cites jet lag as a cause of premature ageing and increased risk of strokes and heart attacks, and even found that those who fly more than 85,000 miles a year exceed regulated limits for exposure to radiation.

Indeed, the pressures of international business travel can affect your job performance by 38 per cent, according to a study by the University of Alabama. And the more exotic the destination, the more deleterious the effects may be. The researchers describe a phenomenon known as “institutional distance”, which sees foreigners struggle to adjust to social customs, cuisine, language and laws very different to their own, which makes long-distance travel particularly stressful.

Unless your company has a strict policy against flying business class, this may be a cause worth pursuing with your boss or whichever department approves travel arrangements.

If possible, you should consider taking holiday on days either side of travelling to help you recover from jet-lag, prepare before, and unwind after your work commitments by taking in the sights and culture.


Many business travellers would willingly forgo pre-flight perks and a smarter suite to arrive at their meeting feeling refreshed and prepared.

Make sure the bases are covered before you fly. WiFi may be intermittent so ensure data access on your devices. Apps can make many experiences more comfortable. If you’re booking the flight yourself, one app – SeatGuru – allows you to browse seat-plans to cherry-pick the spot with most leg-room.

Getting through security early also has its benefits. “Business travel is all about expecting the unexpected – gate changes, flight delays, long taxi lines and security checkpoint backups,” author Eric Holtzclaw told Fast Company. “By giving yourself more time, these unavoidable occurrences will not cause you extra stress.” Use your time in the airport lounge to catch up on emails or the presentation you’re due to give. It’ll be easier to concentrate there than in the office, with the threats of traffic and long waits at security still ahead of you.


If you want to catch some sleep, caffeine and heavy meals should be avoided before and during the flight. And, alas, it is best to do without alcohol as well.

A study by Cornell University found that the 85 decibels audible during a flight actually enhance certain tastes, particularly umami, which is abundant in jet-setter favourite, the Bloody Mary.

But as most cabins are kept at just 10 to 15 per cent humidity, you should avoid drink which might add to the effects of dehydration. Fortunately, the accentuated umami taste comes from the tomato juice, and not the vodka, explaining why German airline Lufthansa has claimed that it sells almost as much tomato juice (53,000 gallons a year) as beer (59,000 gallons) on its flights.