Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. – Mark Twain
This is my favorite travel quote, although I must admit that in these times of cramped seats, late flights and extra charges for luggage it is sometimes difficult to be wholesome or charitable toward my fellow man. But, I have developed a few practices that make life on the road a little easier and travel a lot more enjoyable.
- Be Prepared. Essentially my bags are always packed. I do not have to think about packing every time I take a trip; everything is loaded. My toiletries are ready to go. My travel backpack is always packed. I have duplicates of everything, so I am not scrambling at the last minute trying to find a power cord. I simply throw my laptop or iPad in my bag and I am out the door. Being prepared eliminates so much of the initial stress that can be associated with traveling. Plus, I almost never forget that one thing.
- Be Productive. When traveling, I spend a lot of time reading, especially on airplanes. I make it a point to take a large amount of reading material that can be marked up with relevant quotes or stories that can be used in future writing. I bring books and research papers that have been stacked up on my desk for weeks because it is rare that I get two or three hours of quiet, uninterrupted time to myself. Even if I am traveling with a team member, I make a point to sit a part from that person because I so highly value that time to be able to focus solely on learning and investing in myself as a leader.
- Be Purposeful. Throughout the year, I collect information about the cities or places I know I will be traveling to. I spend time online discovering articles or websites about great independent bookstores or local shops that I know I will love and save all of this information in a file on my computer, so I always have access to it wherever I go. For me, it is important to curate my time in the “shoulder” when traveling, where I am not committed to business meetings or work, to make sure I am also achieving personal goals and having new experiences. For example, I like cupcakes, but I intentionally went to Sprinkles for the first time because it was a cultural phenomenon that people were talking about and I wanted to be able to participate in that dialogue. The second time was to see their cupcake ATM, after that it is purely for the red velvet cupcake.
Travel is great for exposing leaders to different ideas, cultures and popular things to understand what is going on in the world around us. It is also a great opportunity to get caught up on simple tasks like responding to emails or reconnecting with friends while you wait in an airport. As leaders, travel is really inevitable and the more you can do to be prepared, productive and purposeful about traveling, the more you will learn to enjoy it and ultimately, grow as a leader.
As you and your family go through the busy holiday travel season, I hope my tools for the road may make your burden lighter and help you discover a “broad, wholesome, charitable view.”
Question: As a leader, what are your best travel tips? What do you find most enjoyable about the experience of traveling?