Travel advice

By Howard Feldman

Talk to Strangers! 

I am your biggest nightmare. I am the guy who sits next to you on the plane and who starts a conversation with you. The worst part is that despite yourself you will chat to me, you will find me engaging and to your pleasant surprise, the flight will pass quicker than you could have imagined. We will exchange contact details on arrival and we might be in touch in the future. Or we might never see each other again. And we both will be richer for our chat.

I like people. And mostly I find them interesting. Everyone has a story that is theirs, you just have to find out what it is.

One does have to be slightly wary of over-sharers. Like the stranger who told me about his low sperm count before take-off. I didn’t feel that that level of intimacy was necessary that early on, in the journey. I wondered if perhaps he shouldn’t have waited until the seatbelt sign had been turned off and we had enjoyed our 1st whisky together. Either way, I believe that his issue has now been resolved and he is currently the proud father of two young boys.

Travel broadens our minds. If we let it. It is not just about the destination and the geography but also about the people that we encounter along the way. All we have to do is take off our headphones, put NCIS (New Orleans) on pause, in order to discover new worlds.

Indulge Yourself Ever Single Day

Business trips are not easy. As glamorous as they might sound, anyone who travels frequently will tell you how gruelling they can be. The process of leaving family, the worry about what you have forgotten, the anxious passport, wallet, cellphone pat-down (twitch) is stressful. And all of this doesn’t take into account the actual work that needs to be accomplished.

Which is why it is vital, each day, to do something for yourself. Whether it is a walk along a famous road, an early morning or later afternoon run along a lake, a coffee at a quaint but local café, a drink along a boulevard, the knowledge that every day there is an hour that is just for you is vital. It ensures that you don’t get lost along the way, that you continue to value yourself and that you have the time to centre yourself, take stock of the progress of the trip and remind yourself about why you love what you do.

Connect to Home

Yes, they know that you are there for work. And I am sure that they not only understand how hard it is to be on the road and how much you are sacrificing for them. But that doesn’t mean that you are out of their thoughts and hearts. Send WhatsApp photos. Send Voice notes. Buy a chocolate that they don’t have back home. Take the family with you on your travels.

When my children were young, I found something that each of them was interested in. For my one son I bought pens wherever I went. For another I collected my foreign currency coins and for my daughter Swarowski animals. Each of these items was easy to carry and each made them feel that I was thinking of them along the way.

Bonus point – You don’t have to tell your wife / husband ‘/ partner how much fun you are having.

I learned the hard way. At the end of the day on a particular trip to London, I spoke to my wife. I was meeting a friend for dinner and then was going to get an early night. I happened to mention that I could get a ticket to a new show that had just opened. “Go!” she insisted. You will love it.

So I went. And I did. And I told her.

“Oh. Glad you could have the ‘best time’ without me!” she said the next morning when we spoke. “But you told me to go!” I pleaded. “I know I did! But you didn’t need to have such a good time.”

And so. From that day forward. I didn’t.

Travel is enriching and exciting. But it can also be dangerous.