by Maya Chendke | Featured Contributor
Traveling for work can be exciting when it’s shiny and new. There’s the excitement of seeing new places, earning better frequent-flier tiers, and the fresh crackle of a new passport. When the work-travel is done, what exciting places will I visit with those points and the passport?
But as a person who is scared of flying, work (or pleasure) trips are excruciating. And despite being a virtual-office entrepreneur, I find myself on a plane every month, so I’ve had to develop a few survival tricks.
Here are my top five tips for your next business flight.
Spring for trusted traveler status
For whatever it costs – time or money – getting screened for a trusted traveler program is worth its weight in gold. The pre-screening will save you significant time at the security check, turning a painful hour-and-a-half lineup into a ten-minute walk in the park, so to speak.
By the way, while the odds are that the pre-screening will usually mean a significant time-savings, always leave yourself extra time, just in case!
Don’t count on the WiFi
As an entrepreneur, the pressure to squeeze the most out of my time before losing precious earth-bound WiFi is intense. You’ll often find me popping off pre-flight emails while downing a latte, even in the lineup to board. But those valuable moments can be derailed with faulty internet connectivity, so don’t count on them.
During a trip last week, I was planning to reply to a few dozen emails, but the connection at Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport was down. Last month, Chicago’s O’Hare’s WiFi was incredibly slow. And don’t get me started on having to pay for crummy connections at Newark or Nashville…
Pack bathroom essentials
I am not a hearty traveler. I have actually puked my way through LaGuardia and Nashville after getting food poisoning the night before.
(This travel tip should actually be called “Don’t Eat the Ahi Tuna,” but I digress.)
One thing that I have become intimately familiar with is the cleanliness of airport bathrooms vs. airplane bathrooms. So I thank my nagging mother for instilling in me the need to pack travel-sized bathroom essentials like Sudafed, Imodium, Gravol, Pepto, sanitizer, wipes, and underwear… Yes, and underwear. Don’t question my mother – just do it and you’ll thank her at some point.
There’s nothing worse than having to pray at the porcelain alter of a public bathroom…oh wait, there is – sprinting to the lav mid-flight! Also, do note that Delta and United have poor quality air-sickness bags, while Air Canada, Porter, WestJet and American thankfully provide stronger ones.
Don’t bank on working while flying
With the continued intent of squeezing out productivity, I naturally assume I’m going to get a ton done during my flight.
But there were times I had awesome seat mates that I chatted with through the entire flight – and even ended up pitching business to them. I’ve also experienced such bad turbulence that the captain ordered laptops to be put away, while I prayed feverishly. Or better yet, I’ve stared at a blank screen in an exhausted daze, or simply fallen asleep.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also banged out presentation decks at 30,000 feet, however, the reality is that you can’t count on flight time to be productive. Don’t force it – that short-haul flight could be the perfect moment to disconnect and regroup.
Hurry less, worry less
As entrepreneurs, we always intend to do more and deliver value. I started my own company a year ago and also work with an entrepreneurial co-op, so I constantly feel like my ass is on the line. I carry this sort of secret guilt in taking a break for even a 55-minute flight, because I know how much has to get done.
It can be hard to resist the impulse that I have to be accomplishing something at all times. But I have come to realize that the more I hurry, the less time I feel I have. So instead of feeling anxious and fighting to cram productivity into my travel time, I’ve been trying to accept “doing” less and just going along for the ride.
Here’s the thing: some mental rest during the flight is often exactly what I need to feel ready to leap back into action when the plane lands.
Marketing consultant, entrepreneur, writer and horse mom Maya Chendke is going through a powerful start-up year. Her company, mPath Creative Consulting, works on website, marketing, content and social media projects that flex her signature hybrid style of creative/analytical. She is also part of a virtual anti-agency, Horsefly Group, where she leads clients with clever ideas and her color-coded iCal.
Her entrepreneurship track record includes a couple of start-ups and a self-published novel (Awake but Dreaming). A rogue introvert, you’ll spot her at start-up meetings sporting riding breeches and a messy bun as the Woz to her Jobs-like partners (or the Sandberg to their Zuckerbergs).
Maya has an MBA from the Rotman School of Management where she was a standout presence in the male-dominated business school environment. She has a certificate from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Summer Institute for General Management and a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University.
She loves to help people make the most of their marketing budget and has an addiction to analytics. She is always on the lookout for great talent and great projects and loves to facilitate introductions.
In her downtime, she’s diligently rehabilitating her rescue horse and reads ~20 books a year. Tweet her @mayachendke