Knowing what to do when you travel might seem like the key to a successful trip, but travel hacks take this to the next level. Call it the rules of being on the road. After a lifetime in the travel/hospitality industry—and a lifetime of constantly traveling—I’ve learned that have consistently great trip isn’t about knowing certain sites or attractions or restaurants but about how to plug in wherever you are. It’s an idea that, as CEO, I’ve put at the heart of BridgeStreet’s business when it comes to revolutionizing the extended-stay experience; as business has become more global, business travellers must learn how to live and work locally, no matter where they’re headed. So when people ask me about a certain country or city that they’re visiting, I tend not to offer specific suggestions, but rather a set of general guidelines. There’s no one right trip to take, only your trip, the one that lets you plug in to your destination city a find the experience you want, whether it’s for business or pleasure.
Here are my top five rules of the road:
1). Think local – When planning your trip, seek lodgings close to the city centre, somewhere where you can’t help but immerse yourself in the culture the second you step out your door. Actually, with the best kind of lodging, you’re immersed in the culture even before your step our your door. That’s why you should also avoid cookie-cutter hotels, run-of-the-mill chains—anywhere that’s going to offer uniformity rather than cultural dynamism. Being on the interior of a “name-that-brand” hotel only reminds you of the place where you came, which is exactly the opposite of what you want if you’re really trying to get into a different mind set.
2). Step out – The first thing I do whenever I get anywhere is take stock of the neighbourhood. I want to know what’s around: coffee shops, laundry, dining, pubs. The best parts of local culture are never strictly about attractions, but about the feel on the street, the people and the way they live their lives. When traveling internationally, you may find a few gap hours or a day of recovery, and this is the perfect time to step out for a wander. It’s not just about the education; these walking breaks frequently help creative flow and can inject some much needed levity into an intense work session.
3). Document :15 – Nothing helps keep your mind on special experiences and remember what you want to share when you’re home. I find that journaling about the surrounding area/experiences enhances my travels, but your journal doesn’t have to be strictly on paper—it can include photos, physical artefacts like flyers or ticket stubs, even WHAT. Take the time each morning to pull together your thoughts on what you’ve seen, heard, and felt. You’ll be surprised at how this time organizing has positive effects that spill into your work, both by prompting new ideas and clarifying goals.
4). EAT LOCAL, 4x: Variety might be the spice of life but regularity reveals depths and builds WHAT. Once you find a restaurant you like, go there frequently. It’s not just about the food: Many of the great experiences I have traveling have come when I got to know locals. Your wait staff, managers, etc. are all apt to speak more freely the more you visit, with the service relationship giving way to something more like acquaintanceship. These connections should never be taken for granted. Not only can locals help you navigate a city more like a local (and less like a tourist), but familiarity—even something as simple as becoming a short-term regular at a café or restaurant—can help you manage a new city experience.
5). Use Technology: One the best things about the deep integration of technology and travel is avoiding the surprises you don’t want so you can enjoy the surprises you do. There are a number of reliable travel apps that we use to keep our guests on their feet on burden-free, covering many different aspects of being on a trip. Not having to worry about, say, luggage transfers or ordering in enables you to focus on work and play stress-free. It’s important because stressors like unreliable wi-fi or basic services are triply more impactful when traveling. Taking advantage of technology prior to taking off can help eliminate any possibility of little hiccups.
CEO Sean Worker – CEO, BridgeStreet