Magazine article Management Today

Why Fly by the Seat of Your Pants?

Magazine article Management Today

Why Fly by the Seat of Your Pants?

Article excerpt

Scraping onto the plane with seconds to spare makes you look important, but it's no way to prepare for an overseas business date

The first business trip you made to a foreign country was probably fabulously exciting. Having your flight paid by the company, perhaps flying business class, staying at a much grander hotel than you could personally afford -- and the underlying knowledge that your boss thought you were worth sending, all combined to make you feel 10 feet tall (maybe even 10 metres tall, as you were abroad).

Sadly, the excitement of taking business trips soon wears thin. Travelling is great in moderation but a pain in the butt if carried to excess (and that's despite the much-vaunted comfort of modern airline seats).

You quickly discover that there is rarely time to enjoy the tourist delights of the places you visit. Often you have to whoosh straight from the airport to your meeting and back to the airport again. If you stay overnight you'll frequently find yourself alone, with nobody but the hotel barman for company.

Worst of all, travel inherently involves stress. So many things can go wrong, and do go wrong, that stress is unavoidable. But it can be minimised -- or exacerbated by dumb behaviour.

Some people, for example, invariably catch planes (and trains) by the skin of their teeth. They cut things so fine that they end up rushing and scurrying, pushing past other travellers, cursing and swearing at all and sundry as they go -- blaming everyone but themselves. The writer Michael Frayn believes they do it to convince themselves they are frightfully busy people. Scraping onto the flight with seconds to spare proves to their own subconscious that they are so important they never have a moment to waste.

Well, maybe it's good for their subconscious, but it's terrible for their health. It's a fast track to the great passport controller in the sky. I know, or rather knew, a top businessman who always arrived late for trains, and a couple of years ago had a heart attack chasing an outgoing express at Paddington. He was one of the cleverest businessmen I ever met -- except in that one foolish way.

If you travel a lot, there will inevitably be occasions when you cannot avoid rushing and scurrying. But if you do it perpetually neither your fellow passengers nor your blood pressure will thank you. Here are a few tips to help you travel sensibly, and arrive in better shape.

Keep a trip list: make a checklist of the things you always need to take and do before each journey. Keep it in your diary or laptop, where you can find it easily. …

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