Power travel: tips to increase productivity – includes related tips on business travel
Gerald A. Michaelson
Speed is critical. One of the keys to Napoleon’s success was that his troops marched almost twice as fast as those of his opponents. Even when you’re quick, though, time spent traveling should be as productive as possible.
Don’t always assume the airplane is the quickest or most productive way to travel. I’ve traveled from midtown Manhattan to downtown Washington, D.C., and have made better time–and better use of my time-by taking the train. Once you factor in the long taxi rides to and from the airport, the three-hour trip could be more convenient than flying.
On the train, phones are available. Amtrak Metroliners have airline-type fold-down trays suitable for work. The two-by-two seats have ample leg room and leg rests. If the train’s not too crowded, you can spread out over a table in the dining car; it makes for a comfortable work environment.
On major routes, trains leave frequently; but reservations are often required, and you must carry on your own baggage. Call 1-800-USA-RAIL. The weekday rail coach fare of $96 between New York and D.C. compares favorably with the air coach fare of $150-particularly when you consider that the rail fare is downtown to downtown.
Drive for Efficiency
Consider the one-way auto rental as another travel efficiency alternative. Fly to one city, drive to several, and fly back from another. I’ve flown to Portland, Ore., picked up a one-way rental for calls in Portland, Salem, Eugene, and then Medford, where I’ve turned in the car prior to my flight.
In cities with multiple airports, you can rent at one terminal and return to another at no extra charge. For example, fly into San Francisco and return the car to Oakland. Ditto for any of the five Los Angeles area airports. I’ve rented cars in Newark or White Plains and turned them in at a New York City location, making the rest of my calls for the day by taxi.
It’s also possible to use airline stopover rules to your advantage. Generally, when making stops on a domestic trip, the through fare applies if you take a connecting flight within four hours. If there is no connecting flight within the four-hour window, then you must take the next available connecting flight.
On a Delta flight that connected through Denver, for example, a three-hour-and-45-minute stopover allowed me to schedule lunch with a client. On flights through Phoenix on Southwest and Detroit on Northwest, I’ve found schedules where the next connecting flight was six hours later — allowing ample time for meeting a customer. When I’ve wanted to I’ve taken the last flight into Chicago at night and the first flight out in the morning. That allowed me to check in overnight at the on-site Hilton at Chicago’s O’Hare. Since overnight stopover routing is unusual, the computer may not automatically provide a through fare. You may have to make a special request.
Work on the Road
Use your downtime when traveling to make phone calls or do paperwork. The trick is to find adequate facilities. Large airport terminals often have office centers with space for rent. Or check the day room rate at a convenient hotel. On an early morning arrival in Charlotte, N.C., I called to find that my morning meeting had been canceled but my afternoon meeting was confirmed. I found a reasonable day rate at the airport Hampton Inn. I enjoyed the free continental breakfast at the hotel, completed some paperwork, and made phone calls–without paying local or long-distance phone access. I took a shower and arrived fresh for my afternoon sales call.
TIPS for the ROAD
If you are a frequent renter, join one of the auto rental clubs so you can go directly to your car without waiting in line at the airport counter.
In cities such as Boston, New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco, the subways can be a faster [and less expensive] alternative to your destination than a taxi or rental car. Don’t use the subway at night unless you’ve made the trip before.
The laptop computer is a terrific productivity tool. Mine goes everywhere with me. There’s a big difference between carrying a four-pound laptop and lugging an eight-pounder.
When flying, carry all your luggage whenever possible. You can save a lot of time if you don’t have to wait for it to be off-loaded.
Gerald A. Michaelson travels 100,000 miles a year as executive vice president of Tennessee Associates International of Maryville, Tenn.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Success Holdings Company, LLC
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