Contributor Stephanie Lee of Host Agency Reviews writes a monthly column on issues faced by travel agents, especially those who are self-employed or who work from home.
We have great lives, don’t we? We travel to beautiful destinations, check out the newest hotels and resorts, meet people from all over the world – all in the name of work.
Here’s the thing though, it’s not all glitz and glam. When traveling is part of your job, some – and perhaps all – of your day-to-day tasks still need your attention while you’re on the road. That’s in addition to property tours, making new contacts during trips and staying on top of your social media marketing.
So when you add traveling to your schedule, you’ve got to work smarter and plan ahead to get things done.
Over the past two years, I took 23 trips on flying machines – er, airplanes. Each destination had its own challenges – dodgy or slow Internet (or worse, no Internet), exorbitant Internet access fees, no electrical outlets – along with the distractions of being in a different place.
Now generally I make it a rule not to sit on the floor in busy public corridors or under random pay phone booths so I can plug in and work.
But when I’m traveling, this rule falls to the wayside. You’ll find me parked next to any electrical outlet I can find if I’m in need of a charge. Hint: If you’re in New York’s Grand Central Station, the only outlet to be found is in the lost and found room, under the payphone, just outside the bathrooms.
So here’s my first rule of thumb when traveling: When you can plug in, do so. You never know when you’ll see your next outlet, so charge your electronics at every opportunity.
Sometimes it’s not so easy to find an outlet. The airport may be busy or your location devoid of outlets. Here are a few suggestions so you’re prepared for those situations.
• Invest in a laptop, tablet, and/or phone with a long battery life.
• Buy a multi-outlet adapter for those times when all available outlets are in use. People may not volunteer to give up their outlet, but they won’t mind you plugging in an adapter that allows you both to use it. You can charge their phone, your phone, and then some.
• If you own battery-sucking electronics, splurge on backup batteries.
• Consider alternate power sources. There are battery-powered chargers, hand-crank chargers and solar chargers. I’ve even heard of a yo-yo charger! (Yo-yoing at your gate is socially acceptable if you’re doing it to charge your phone.)
I don’t know about you, but my work travels are jam-packed with meetings and obligations. During rare downtimes, I want to jump online and get stuff done. But the reality for travelers is that there are times and places where you just can’t get online.
But not having an Internet connection shouldn’t stop you from getting things done. It just may take a little thinking ahead.
Maximize your time offline
Here are tips on utilizing your time without Internet:
• Set up your email program so you can work offline. That way you can read and reply even without Internet. When you get back online, your emails will be sent.
• Prep for social media: Plan your Facebook status, select the best pictures, pre-write your tweets.
• If you’re working on a client quote or researching a destination, download the Internet pages you’ll need before you travel, so you can access them offline.
• Download travel industry reads on your e-reader.
• Cue up travel industry podcasts.
• Write your to-do list.
• Make phone calls.
• Network with all those nice people sitting around you.
• And one of my personal favorites, catch some shut eye.
If you’re on a fam trip and in Internet withdrawal, don’t forget that when you’re touring properties you can almost always snag some free Wi-Fi in the lobby.
Finally, while business trips are often a busy whirlwind, if you can, take a little time for yourself. Enjoy the destination. Relax.
When you burn the candle at both ends, you end up accomplishing a lot less.
Got any other tips, fellow travelers?
Former host agency director Stephanie Lee operates Host Agency Reviews, which features agent reviews of host agencies and tips for starting and growing a travel agency. Connect with Steph on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.