Having travelled for work over the past 15 years with groups, teams, individuals and by myself I have picked up some travel tips that might help you with your travel.
There are plenty of studies and articles on how to deal with jet lag and travel fatigue, most of them have some good information, but my experience suggests that the attitude of the traveller is the key component to adjusting to the new environment, climate and time zones.
Before departure it is a good idea to prepare the group that they will be tired/ frustrated/hot/cold/etc.
Borrowing a term from the British Special Forces, introduce the term ‘Dislocated Expectations’ to the group. This is where we mentally accept that our well-planned travel will most likely be disrupted by some event and we will just adapt our plans.
While it is tempting to take the cheapest airfare to save a couple of hundred bucks, it is almost guaranteed that during the extra stop over you’ll be willing to pay double the savings to get to your destination quicker.
Most booking websites have an option to sort the available flights by travel time. Use this.
Two general rules:
Flight under 2 hours, window seat.
Flight over 2 hours, aisle seat (it’s extremely difficult for me to sit still for that long!).
Caveat: Early morning or late evening flights, window (it’s easier to sleep).
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For longer/overseas flights ensure you have packed the following in your carry-on.
- 3x shirts
- 3x underwear
- Sandals/flip flops
- All your electrical chargers (laptop, phone, etc)
- IPod (with ocean sounds)
- Old towel*
The first two items are in case your luggage get’s lost/delayed or you want fresh clothing to change into before arriving at your destination.
I like to take my shoes off during the flight but don’t want to walk barefoot in the bathrooms, hence the flip flops.
With any delays or luggage losses you can keep working or keep in touch.
Hoodies are great for warmth and to block out light when sleeping. The hat also will block some light.
The ‘white noise’ of the ocean sounds can help block out chatter or other disturbances.
*For some airports (e.g. Dubai) there are showers available to those who fly cattle class. For any stop over that lasts at least two hours, take advantage of this. You’ll feel so much better. And just throw the towel away when you’re finished.
Tennis Specific Information (try to apply to other sports)
When travelling with a group of tennis players, get each of the players to swap a few racquets with someone in the group.
That way, if one bag goes missing that player will still have a racquet or two to practice with.
Simple: Window seat? Get in early. Aisle seat? Take your time.
If you’re arriving in the morning in a new time zone, sleep as much as possible on the flight.
If you’re arriving in the evening, stay awake as much as possible.
Know those idiots who stand up as soon as the plane lands and try to rush out? Don’t be that person.
Even if you’re in the front row, first off the plane and sprint down the concourse you’re still going to have to wait for your luggage.
Be polite, wait your turn and help those that need it.
Food ‘n Drink
There are probably some articles you’ll read that suggest no alcohol and have an opinion on coffee.
Not this one.
Only advice is to have less than you normally do.
Despite what many ‘hydration experts’ tell you, you only need to drink water when you’re thirsty. Though drinking more might make you go to the toilet more and that means more movement – a good thing.
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Remember the most important point? Your attitude.
Being positive, embracing the changes and challenges will probably help you more than any ‘science’.
Get out v Get to Sleep
Arriving in a new time zone in the morning I’ve tried two strategies: getting outdoors and staying there until it’s close enough to bed time that I can collapse; and having a short doze and then getting out.
If you can trust yourself, my experience suggests the latter is probably better.
Depending on the number of time zones you’ve covered (bearing in mind I am writing this from Australia and most of my international travel has been to Europe and the US) it’s best to NOT train on that first day.
It’ll probably be a mistake-ridden, low intensity session.
Rather, schedule some outdoor activities.
I have found that an ‘Amazing Race’ has been the most beneficial and rewarding activity with very little preparation.
Buy a tourist book and list some popular local attractions.
In groups of 2-3, the athletes have to provide photographic evidence that their entire group was at that attraction.
While they can use public transport, they are not allowed to use taxis.
It’s a great activity, especially for younger athletes who need to build their independence.
First Three Nights
Generally, my stance is not to take medications unless absolutely necessary but I do take a fast-acting, fast-clearing pill.
And it’s only for the first three nights!
Put the pill along side your bed and only use it if you wake up at a terrible hour.
With all the other things that need to be done when one returns home (paying bills, answering calls and texts, etc.) it’s good not to have a month of laundry to do.
Where possible, do some laundry late in your trip so that you have clean clothes.
Anything that is not clean when I am packing gets folded inside out and packed last.
The ‘inside-out’ makes it easy to determine what still needs cleaning; and packing it last means that anyone who wants to go through my bag has to first deal with the sweaty stuff.
If you have any practical tips for travelling please feel free to email them through.