My friend, Andreas Widmer, author of the book “The Pope and the CEO”, is a former Swiss Guard and a successful businessman, who has traveled all over the world for business and pleasure. In 2012, he published this blog post of 15 travel tips for believers on the companion web site for his book. The site is no longer online and so I received Andreas’ permission to re-publish his original post because I found the tips so valuable and helpful. Be sure to check out his book as well.
From years of traveling around the globe for business, I’ve acquired a sense of what it takes to travel well. Whether you’re out on mission or just traveling while doing His purpose in your life, a few tweaks to your travel routine will make you happier and more productive. Here are 15 travel tips that can make all the difference.
The Travel Tips
- Dress well when you travel. You’ll get treated very differently if you wear a tie and jacket, especially when you travel for business. This reduces your luggage (i.e. you wear your suit jacket rather than having to pack it) and if my experience is indicative, you’ll regularly get free upgrades and other perks.
- Wear compression travel socks. Blood clots due to sitting on airplanes are more common than you think – and this condition can happen at any age. A 30-year-old friend developed a clot in his leg on his way to Japan during a layover in Hawaii. He was lucky, because a flight attendant correctly diagnosed his symptoms and called the medics. The doctor who treated him said that wearing such socks prevents blood clots while flying; that was all I needed to hear. Never leave home without them. I also wear slip-on shoes – I only bring one pair to save space – that easily come off for the security screens.
- Plan your in-flight activities. Some of my most productive and creative work is done on airplanes. I prepare everything that I need to work on in advance and make sure it’s “bundled” so I can take it easily out of my carry-on when I board the plane. I use a cloth bag that contains what I need in flight. You don’t want to be the one who holds up the flow of passengers boarding, frantically scrimmaging though your luggage looking for that special pen before you take your seat. I also never put anything into the seat pockets on the plane – that’s one sure way to lose/forget it, believe me. For extra seating comfort, I drop my wallet into my shirt on the plane instead of having it in my back pocket.
- Pack some power bars in your luggage. The only predictable thing in traveling is that it’s unpredictable. I can’t tell you how often one of these power bars saved me from starving – or from having to choose some very bad menu options.
- Don’t check your luggage. I only do carry-on. How? Use a flexible, soft garment bag for your clothing (I use the WallyBags 757 Black Garment Bag) not just your suit and shirts, but everything – try it. It all fits on hangers. I have never yet had to check my soft garment bag. On top of that I use a rolling computer bag that has enough space to pack anything else I need for a stay of up to one week.
- Fight jet lag. Jet lag is a thing of the past since melatonin pills came on the market. These things work miracles. I also help my body adapt to the new time zone by making sure to go outside and be in the sun (or absence thereof) at my destination. 1 hour makes a huge difference in your body’s internal clock.
- Avoid rooms close to the elevator. That is my only directive to hotels. General noise can be covered up by using earplugs (make sure to bring them with you from the airplane – though I have a set of heavy duty wax earplugs in my toiletries bag at all times) but elevator engine vibrations travel through the walls, even through the legs of your bed and the mattress… trust me.
- Get the Global Entry Passport Approval. One of the greatest time and aggravation saving things I’ve ever done is to buy that access. Say goodbye to long immigration lines – you walk right through.
- Miles and more… I participate in the major mileage programs of the airlines. But by far the most miles I get are through several credit cards that provide miles for every purchase you make. They usually have an annual limit – thus why I have several of them. These miles can be redeemed for free tickets, and for upgrades on longer flights.
- Praying on the road. I carry a rosary with me and usually pray it while I wait in line anywhere. This is a good way to be patient and offer up the many inconveniences that today’s travels represent.
- I never turn on the TV in a hotel room (I don’t at home either, but I’m just saying…). Traveling is usually connected with low levels of sleep. I found that not only is the content of the TVs at hotels not conducive to my spiritual life, but when I watch it, even wholesome programming, I am bound to do it at the cost of sleep, and that’s currency I’m not willing to spend.
- Keeping connected with home. I am willing to spend money to stay well connected. I use Skype whenever I can to connect with the family, and I text and call my wife at every stage of the trip so she knows what’s going on. This grounds me and keeps me going.
- I go to Church wherever I travel and whenever I can, even during the week. It’s a profoundly spiritual gratification to experience my faith in different cultures. Going to a Catholic Mass in Japan, India, Macedonia, Rwanda, Paraguay, China, Sweden, Missouri, Florida and California has made me come to love the diverse universality of my faith.
- I have a Bose Noise Canceling headset and love it. The peace and quiet it gives you during a long flight is worth the bulkiness and price. I use it not just for music, but also to create silence to sleep on the plane.
- I use The Better Part iPhone app for my daily prayer. Of course, I also use that at home, but in times past, I used to carry around a prayer booklet and I now save some extra space by having that on my iPhone.
I hope these travel tips help you get started in planning a less stressful, more prayerful and productive next trip. What’s your best travel tips?
- airport: Pexel