How to deal with transatlantic travel

Whether you’re a senior leader or not, lots of roles in today’s world require you to travel – to meet other teams, in other offices, all over the world. Whether we like it or not, a key part of being taken seriously still comes down to how we look and act, and handling transatlantic travel can make or break even top-level leaders. Here are some top tips from senior leaders I work with:  

  1. Invest in great carry-on luggage and packing cubes. Packing cubes allow you to compress items easily, and keep your luggage organised. A carry-on suitcase which accommodates them nicely is also a must, saving you time at the airport on both sides. Take clothes which won’t suffer creases from being compressed, and keep your toiletry and underwear travel cubes packed in advance. Get a good stockpile of small bottles you can decant shampoo, conditioner, etc., into, or buy lots of travel sizes in one go.
  2. For a short trip to the East Coast, try to stay on UK time, but just act as though you are living ‘strange hours’ when you are there. Imagine you’re just having a very late night, and a big lie in. For a longer trip, or to the West Coast, start to adjust to the time zone before you go; even shifting two hours in advance of travelling can make a big difference. There are apps which can help by telling you when you should start to shift your body clock and therefore your watch, bedtimes, etc.
  3. Once you’ve decided which time zone you are going to stick to, eat and drink as you usually would in that time zone. Avoid skipping meals, or extra meals, having a healthy snack if you are hungry instead. Absolutely do NOT drink alcohol – this doesn’t help your body clock at all.
  4. Consider stockpiling work tasks for the plane which do not need connectivity – even in premium and first class, the wifi is patchy and it can be a benefit to be able to focus on tasks that need your concentration and benefit from no distractions. If you know you’re going to be busy as soon as you land, try to take some time away from doing work on the flight to watch a film, relax, or sleep (if that is on the schedule).
  5. Moisturise. Everyone. Moisturise. Flying dries your skin and if you want to look as though this takes you no effort at all, moisturise.

But one final thing to say – carbon emissions. I totally get that lots of senior roles require a lot of travel. But even shaving down two or three trips a year will have an impact. What can be done on Zoom? What can be done in Europe? What can be done by email? The environment, your body clock, and your skin will all thank you. 

Three resources to help with work travel:

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