Ten work-life hacks for smart travellers

Some people just seem to breeze through the stressful and artificial world of international business travel. Like celebrities or minor royals with an entourage of assistants and stylists just out of camera shot, these business professionals manage to stay fresh and sharp after hours of negotiating deals, airport queues and international time zones.

What's their secret? Well, if a magic pill existed we'd all be taking it. But there are a number of work-life hacks business movers and shakers rely on when facing their travel demons.

Smart travellers look for imaginative working areas that will help keep minds active and inspired.

It may sound glamorous completing business deals while staying at exclusive hotels in the world's most exciting cities, but peripatetic professionals have to contend with many complications. They can be away from family and home comforts for non-defined periods, and they have to perform professionally and creatively when the work spotlight shines brightly upon them (even if their body is telling them it's 3.20am).

That is on top of the everyday demons familiar to any international tourist – having to deal with constant tiredness, irritability and bureaucracy while trying to stay fit and healthy.

Here are 10 ways, tested by experts around the world, that allow smart travellers to keep their bodies and minds in balance:

1. Be prepared

Much of the smart traveller's best work is done before entering the airport lounge. They confirm flights and accommodation days in advance and make use of business clubs and pre-approved programs that expedite Customs clearance in foreign lands, such as Global Entry in the US.

2. Keep everything in carry-on luggage

Constant travellers know one thing – nothing summons those travel demons more than waiting at a luggage carousel. If possible, everything comes on the plane with them. Essentials include toothpaste and a toothbrush, mobile charger, pain relievers and a change of clothes. Most importantly, smart travellers go everywhere with quality noise-cancelling headphones.

3. Eat, drink the right things at the right time

As tempting as the drinks tray and the minibar may seem, their contents are not a good mix for sharp business brains. The same goes for those lured by fast-food convenience. Smart travellers try to eat healthy food at set intervals, snack on fruit and quality energy bars and drink lots of water (bottled, if necessary).

4. Use the hotel gym and pool

It's too easy to get into a rut of sleeping, eating, meeting, eating, meeting, sleeping without thinking of the impact it's having on your body. Smart travellers take their minds off work and keep their stress levels in check by working up a sweat in a fitness class or on an exercise bike.


5. Shift your time zone early, or don't do it at all

"Reset your body clock" is a tip as old as international travel itself, but the latest advice is that those on very short business trips may be better working around their normal sleeping rhythms. It might mean sleeping with the hotel drapes drawn and rewriting proposals at 11.30pm but it could also leave smart business travellers in a better frame of mind.

6. Discover the outside world

All work and no play makes for a very dull worker. Smart travellers know that if they take the time to understand their surroundings, go on walking tours and gain cultural experiences they are people others will prefer to do business with.

7. Stay mobile

You can curse that mobiles and tablets mean you're available day and night, or you can make constant connectedness work for you. Smart travellers use cheap or free WiFi at hotels or airports to share documents or ideas with those back in the office or set up meetings on the fly. The most organised prefer the certainty of carrying their mobile WiFi ("MiFI") hotspot around with them.

8. Find useful travel apps

Just about everything can be stored digitally, and there are myriad apps to help smart travellers organise their travel details or receipts (see Expensify or Xpenditure). Other apps help them find a good local restaurant (Yelp) or the nearest WiFi (Wi-Fi Finder).

9. Find a creative workspace

It's hard to think of an environment less conducive to creative thinking than a mid-city office boardroom. Smart travellers look for imaginative working areas that will help keep minds active and inspired. Hotels, such as Pullman London St Pancras, feature workspaces with furnishings and accessories that encourage brainstorming sessions rather than mere meetings.

10. Define non-work time

Smart travellers are good diary managers, and this means they set aside a time and a place for everything. This not only means scheduling hours to put down the laptop but to also connect with family and friends. There's nothing weird about prearranging a 15-minute Facetime appointment with the kids every day at 7.30am. It's just something smart travellers would do.

This article is sponsored by Pullman Hotels and Resorts - improve your life when you are away from home.