Features

Travel tips

1 Sep 2005 by business traveller

When flying from Europe to the US, take advantage of cheap Irish airfares and easy hub access by arranging to leave from Shannon or Dublin. US immigration is done in Ireland before you board, saving time standing in line at your US destination.
Peter Flynn


Use a debit card that doesn't charge fees at ATM machines. After travelling in three countries this year, I have found the Nationwide debit card is the best offer with no charge on any transactions.
Roy Gaunt


Switch off your mobile when abroad. On departing Hong Kong, I record a new message on my voice mail telling callers I will not be receiving calls but will take text messages and email on my Blackberry (PDA).

Text messages cost nothing to receive abroad and are still cheaper to send than making a long call. For those who cannot be bothered tapping messages out on the phone's keypad, messages can also be typed on a laptop and sent via the phone's data facilities. The new generation of smartphones, such as the Nokia 6800 or the Sony Ericsson P800, have big screens and better text entry systems, making them ideal for travellers who want to rely on messaging and email.
Geeta Hemrajani


When arriving at Brussels airport, there is often a long queue at the taxi rank outside the airport. The solution is to walk across the road to the Sheraton and take the elevator up to the ground floor. There you take one of the taxis queuing for the hotel customers. I have never waited more than five minutes and the fare is the same as if you were taking a car from the rank at arrivals.
Eric Donjon


Always bring a small bottle of tea tree oil with you when you travel.  Dab a couple of drops under your nose when you fly, to keep those in-flight bugs away. Tea tree oil is also great for minor cuts and abrasions, and, diluted, can be used to gargle.
Mandy Slater


I collect and buy trial sizes of cosmetics and body care products from magazines, stores and eBay to take on my travels as they are ideal for short business trips.
Liz Tubby


To get your luggage first out of the carousel, ask the check-in counter person to place a label saying that your luggage is fragile (you might be requested to sign a paper, which says the company is not responsible in case anything is broken). It works three times out of four: your luggage will be (among) the first to get out!

To upgrade for the next trip, find out (if possible) what is not working at your seat. You may be offered a voucher usable for partially or totally buying an upgrade next time. If everything is working well, enjoy peacefully the trip in your not-upgraded cabin!

If you want a good view from your room, ask for the non-smoking floor. In some countries, it is so rare that the non-smoking floor is usually among the highest, near the executive floors, and has a nice view.

Always enquire about the hotel's means for transportation to and from the airport. Some hotels offer a free limousine service and you may not even find out about it until you reach the hotel — at your own expense.
Serge Adler


Ideally, before you travel — but certainly when you check into a hotel — store the hotel reception's telephone number in your mobile phone. When you reach your room (which can be some distance away), if the key fails to work, you can then phone reception for assistance instead of having to trail all the way back with your luggage and queue up again, saving valuable time and avoiding the obvious stress. Invariably there is never an internal telephone anywhere near the room and you are simply stranded.

Failure of, or difficulties with, electronic room keys are fairly common — I last experienced it a couple of weeks ago in London, where I had typically been assigned a room in a satellite wing, access to which involved negotiating some stairs and several fire doors. The receptionist had not successfully activated the key card, so it failed.

Having the hotel reception number (as opposed to that of central reservations) stored in your mobile phone before travel also allows for contact to be made in case of delays; hotels have been known to allocate booked rooms to standby guests if the booked guest has not presented by a certain time in the late evening.
Jim Bannerman


The trick is to be as late as possible in checking in. That way, your chance of being upgraded is increased. Secondly, do dress smart. Casual will do, but dress well. It would be advantageous if you have that airline's FFP card. Normally, if airlines have to allocate an upgrade (due to overbooking economy tickets), they will prioritise FFP cardholders. But if you don't get upgraded at check-in, do not fret: there's another chance at the gate just before you enter the plane. They do upgrades there for various reasons, and you can try asking for it.
Tay Kim Kuan


My tip (from my many trips on business and leisure) is to save up all the items of clothing — underwear, nightwear, outer garments and shoes — that are nearing the end of their useful life, and take them on your trips, shedding them after just one more wear. Result: no laundry or dry cleaning to do once home, more space in the case for any purchases, and bounty for chambermaids!
Jane Reynolds


1. Always make sure, if you are travelling frequently with the same airline to the same destination, that you get to know the local airport customer services manager. Make sure you speak to them each time you travel; you'd be amazed at how many upgrades you end up getting

without even having to ask!

2. Always go to the highest level check-in desk that your frequent flyer card will allow. Be friendly to the staff and you'll be amazed how, even if you don't get an upgrade, what a much better seat you might get. You may even end up with an upgrade at the gate.

3.  If you travel to a country where tipping is the mainstay of the service industry's wages (eg the US), make sure your first night in the hotel bar provides a good tip (more than the average 15 per cent) to the person serving. You'll get excellent service from then on, they won't bat an eyelid when you arrive back at the hotel late after a long meeting and are hungry when the kitchen is closed — they'll always rustle up something for you.

4. When you collect your hire car, ask if they're doing any upgrades. Most hire car firms do free upgrades one level up, especially at quiet times of the year or they've run out of your car group. It always pays to ask.
Sharon Croome


The night before checking out of a hotel — especially before you will be checking out early or catching a flight — request a copy of your hotel bill at the front desk. It will save valuable time in the morning and will be easier to make inquiries or to dispute unknown charges with the staff in the evenings, who may be better able to handle your request.

On a long business trip, ask for a copy of the current bill at the end of each week. This can help with any unknown or questionable charges and it may be easier to dispute a charge that happened only a few days ago rather than three weeks earlier. In many cases, it will allow you to get a head start on completing that dreadful company expense report!

Save old phone cards and gift cards for those "activation slots" in the room that keep your air conditioning/heating on.

This way, you can leave the room for short durations of time and not have a hot/freezing room to come back to. Respect the hotel's reasoning for using these slots, however, and save energy by turning off unneeded lights when you leave.

Bring a small, multiple-outlet power plug with you for the desk in the hotel room. These inexpensive devices can save you from having to recharge your PDA in one part of the room, charge your mobile phone in another part of the room, and plug your laptop in another part, when the desk only has one or two outlets.
John Chinello


On returning from trips to the US I avoid jetlag, and the dreaded red-eye, by taking one of the early morning fights from cities such as JFK, Newark, Washington Dulles or Boston. I am usually pretty tired after a hectic trip so that, combined with an early check-in and five to six hours of laptop catch-up (don't sleep!!) means I am easily ready for bed when I get home around 10pm UK time.
Steve Hilleard


Turn your clock to the time of your destination while waiting to board your flight. This really helps to get you in tune with the time at your destination and helps with jet lag.
Matthew Hicks

WINNER

Most international airlines serve a variety of meals in-flight. Ask the airlines what choices are available. If you do not know what the choices mean (they might have fancy names), ask them to explain. If you are vegetarian or vegan (vegetarian and no dairy products), be sure to specify that. For example, if you want the Indian vegetarian meal, you might have to ask for "Hindu vegetarian meal" or "Asian vegetarian meal".

Most airlines interpret "Hindu meal" (without "vegetarian") as non-vegetarian meal (usually contains chicken). If you are lucky enough to be flying some of the larger airlines you might even be able to ask for "Indian vegetarian meal". If you are flying on any other airline, be prepared to alter your definition of Indian or Hindu or Asian food.  These are special meals and are therefore served first. The normal codes for the meals are AVML (Asian vegetarian meal), DBML (diabetic meal), HNML (Hindu non-veg meal), MOML (Muslim meal (Halal)) LFML (low cholesterol/fat meal), VGML (vegetarian, non-dairy meal), CHML (children's meal). 
Toff Wahab

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