Saturday, July 19, 2014

Learning from a business trip

I am currently on a short business trip to Nairobi, Kenya. While I sat in my overnight flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, tired from all the running around I had to do, I decided to learn from this experience. The overweight luggage, carrying things I didn't need, hat books to carry etc. Now, the experiences here are personal. So, to some of you, it may be quite obvious or irrelevant. But, pick what you like.

1.  Starting early - start everything early. Start packing early. Start weighing your luggage early, contact the hotel early. Book the cab early. Do everything earlier than you think is 'sufficient'. People may think you are crazy. But they are not going to run around for you. So screw them!

2.  Invest in bags - If you are a frequent air traveller, invest in good bags. Light, sturdy and those that will keeps your stuff in place. My biggest mistake on this trip was to carry a suitcase that was utilised only 70%. There are multiple problems with this. Firstly, the bag eats into your luggage weight limit permissible on the aircraft. Secondly, since the stuff inside is not packed tightly, it moves around. When I opened the bag midway (you'll know why as you read on) I saw all my neatly ironed clothes had become a mess. It could also be a good idea to split the stuff into 2 bags if you don't have just the right size.
Also, buy a good overnighter with a smaller laptop bag inside. This helps you utilise the 8Kg/ 10Kg cabin baggage limit effectively. And the laptop bag inside is what you carry to client site.

3.  Pick stuff wisely - pack depending on where you are going to stay. If you are going to be put up at a decent hotel or service apartment, don't bother packing towels, toiletries etc.If in doubt, don't hesitate to speak to the hotel. These things add weight and once you check-in you realise you wasted time, space and weight.

4.  Books - I am not much of a kindle guy. But on trips, I feel like I should give it a try. My criteria of choosing books for a trip is I pick books that I won't get on line. So I carry Marathi books. Other I can get to read on iPad via the Kindle app. If you are Kindle friendly, nothing like it!

5.  Medicines - you don't get all medicines everywhere. Always carry a the basic ones on you. Some countries don't allow some medicines carried into their borders. On landing you may have to dispose them off, but I would rather do that than being sick alone with no access to basic medication.

6.  Connectivity - This is my second trip to Nairobi. The first one was for just 2 days. I didn't take a mobile connection then. I incurred huge costs on international roaming. This time around, I took a connection as soon as I landed and it's turning out to be the wisest decision. 
Irrespective of the length of your stay, if you can quickly get a local number for cheap, get it! Connecting with local friends, calling a cab, calling home, staying in touch on Whatsapp, all becomes easy. And remember, it also helps other people call you!

7.  Eatables - Call the hotel and find out if they serve Indian cuisine (most do). You don't need to stuff your bag with eatables then. I am carrying 4 packs of biscuits this time which I could have totally avoided.

This is it for now. If  you've got any, do share!
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