Ah, hard to believe it’s already August! It’s quite funny because being south portuguese it means I don’t like August. It’s the month of chaos, where anything takes 3 times longer and becomes more expensive as well. It’s the month where all expats come back to Portugal and they all decide to meet in South Portugal.
Once I’ve started working, I was the one always volunteering to stay in August and then wait for my September holidays. Although this year, I’m having holidays in August as well, but staying in London, so it’s ok 🙂
Speaking about work, that leads to how business travel changed the way I travel.
.: Before Business Travel :.
Before business travel, getting on a plane always meant holidays and excitement! I would prepare a big list of all the places I wanted to visit, spread out through the duration of my stay. The list would normally be long, I would print lots of information and try to tick most of what I could.
Packing would take longer and include stuff which I wouldn’t probably even use at all! But I was a FOMO (fear of missing out). I didn’t wanted to miss visiting that amazing place that everyone was talking about.
We would typically walk loads trying to see all the places I had decided I wanted to visit and the hotel would just be the place where I would leave my bags and have a few hours sleep, so I didn’t really paid attention to the hotel quality except that it had to be really well located and I can tell you I would do loads of investigation to get the best price / location I could manage.
.: While business travelling :.
At first it was all very exciting, going to fancy hotels, fancy restaurants with the colleagues, finding how to get into the office in a foreign location, but after 6 months in a row all I was craving was a night sleep in my bed!
I would start to pack at 23hish trying to avoid the thought that next Monday morning I would wake up at 04a.m again to go to the airport. Therefore I’ve become quite an efficient packer. The other thing I would do was to leave all my toiletries in the hotel, to reduce the weight and the reliance on small travel packages.
I would still order my cab for much earlier than I needed, simply because I’m crazy about punctuality and also I’ve become quite stressed with all the airport check-in process. I would always try to be in London Heathrow before 06a.m, so the queues would be a lot smaller and I could get myself in the lounge enjoying my breakfast and reading the newspaper. That attitude paid out a few times when I’ve got stuck in the M25 at 05h30 int he morning because it’s the M25! (For those who are not from London, this is the highway to hell, there’s always traffic, always!). I never lost a flight. Never! (Touch wood) Sometimes I would have time to do some shopping before going to the gate. And I would go to the gate quite early as well, because I wanted to make sure I would have space for my hand-luggage. When landing, I had to be as most efficient as I could in order not to miss the train to the office. So being in the front seats with space for my luggage was key. The last thing you wanted was to be seated in row nr 5 and have your bag in nr 30! I feel after all these years my bag is my confident, we went through a lot together hahahaha
Tip: If you are a business flyer, ensure you’re bag is not black like everyone else’s! My handbags have stupid colours so I can recognize it in less than 1 second!
I stop experimenting new hotels and try to stay in the same one, to have the feeling of getting back a familiar place. I took that so seriously I’ve become friends with all the hotel staff, from reception to the restaurant. It’s so nice to leave the office and arrive to the hotel and have a welcoming smile and be able to chit chat before going to the get changed in the room.
One thing I never gave up was to try different restaurants. I would avoid eating every night at the hotel and try to leave one or 2 nights to explore a new place. Obviously when I was to tired or still had to work after dinner, would come down the stairs and have my meal in the hotel restaurant. I find room service depressing. That would be last case scenario.
I’ve learnt how to have a meal alone at the restaurant and not feel awkward. Yes, table just for one. Would take my kindle with me and read while waiting for the meal.
Overall it was an amazing experience of meeting new people and making friends all over the world. In many ways I do miss it! (and I’m not even talking about the status at the hotels or the airlines)
.: Leisure travel now :.
Finally, after more than 5 years in a row I’ve stopped travelling weekly for work, which means I’ll gradually start to relax a bit more now, but there are a few things that definitely changed because of all those years of weekly travel
- Hotels – I care loads about the hotel now, because it’s part of the journey as well. If I feel like staying in the hotel I want good amenities around, such as a pool or green space to have a walk around. And the bed comfort is key!
- Stress at the airport – I still go nuts when going through security someone remembers they have a shampoo at the end of their bag. When I’m about to reach my turn I have everything on my hand ready to be dropped at the tray. Even while on holidays I stress with it! I will try to go through security as quickly as I can and then find a restaurant to sit down and have some food.
- Packing – Still done last minute and still very efficient. I try to travel as light as I can and have space in the bag for shopping!!!
- Planning – Except for deciding where to go and why I want to go there, I don’t plan. I like to follow the mood of the day. Obviously will visit the key attractions, but I let myself go with the flow. On the night I plan what we both feel like doing the next day and that might be subject to change if we find a place we really like and want to spend more time there or just doing nothing overall. I feel my holidays now are now way more relaxing.
What remained the same
- Food! I still try to experiment different places and food still is one of the main reasons why I travel. I also try to find local places rather than just rely on the touristy ones
- I still read a lot about travel, mostly blogs, but that’s to try to find the local places and the viewpoints of local people, rather than to add lots of places I want to visit to tick the box
- Punctuality – Thanks Dad! But this is something that will never change. I hate being late. I always want to have contingency and avoid any unnecessary stress. Although I suspect that is just about to change with baby coming so soon!!! (I will let you know in a few months how my punctuality stands)
- Photography – Is still an important part of my travels and we do it together. The only thing that changed is that I’ve replaced my heavy canon by a really light Sony and I just take 1 lens pretty much.
- I still value exploring next to home, maybe even more since I’ve started to spend so long away from home.
Have you changed your travel personality as you’ve started to travel more? Any experiences you would like to share?