When I travel to a new city, I first like to breathe in the air of the new place. I enjoy the aroma of unique spices, unique plants, and millennia of accumulated sweat absorbed into the surroundings. It makes me a more educated person by expanding my sensibilities.
Here are a few more hacks to help you experience more successful business travel (this is a continuation from yesterday).
First suggestion. . . When you arrive, your suit might be terribly wrinkled. If you pack it right, it should be okay, but it might have unraveled when TSA agents rifled through your luggage. What I do: hang it in the shower and turn on the steam for a few minutes. This makes any suit look better. (Here is your cue to make an angry comment about how environmentally insensitivity I am. I may have killed baby seals. Go ahead and rant, I deserve it.)
The second hint: do something to experience the local culture. In my philosophy, you are trying to expand yourself as a human, not just do your job. Why not do both? When I visit a new foreign city, I like to do four things in order to feel I have really experienced it:
1. Visit a grocery store. I like to see how real people gather real ingredients to sustain their families.
2. Experience public transportation. I feel that I have not experienced a place until I have been jostled and rushed with the regular people on their commuter trains or chicken buses or motorized rickshaws.
3. Talk to real people and hear their stories. To be immersed in the lived experiences of laborers and shopkeepers, to glean morals from their stories, then to accumulate the stories, is to better understand how the world really works. Taxi drivers and resting grandmothers teach much more than 18-year-old tour guides.
4. Be inconvenienced and not complain. This reiterates what I wrote yesterday, but being able to fly through the air while someone serves you a cola is something that few people ever experience. It is not a basic human right. If you hit a cancellation or inclement weather or appalling customer service or a delay en route, think of it as a potentially interesting detour. Going off itinerary might be the road less travelled that makes all the difference in your personal development.
Third business travel suggestion: have a packing list in Evernote or other note-taking app. That way you can edit it during travel when you realize that next time you should bring some specific item.
Finally, talk to other travelers. New ideas come when you talk to new people. Traveling is your chance to do that. Of course, it entails two risks: (1) being the annoying person who won’t shut up, or (2) getting stuck talking to an annoying person who will not shut up. So be judicious.