Building a global company from day one has meant countless short haul and long haul flights around the world. With dual headquarters in London and San Francisco, it means I commute between the two offices every other week — showing them equal love! In between my regular trips between offices, I also fly across continents to attend meetings, conferences and events, which can be anywhere from Ireland to Singapore. People often ask me for tips on how to handle the frequent international travel, so below I’ve provided a few of my top recommendations to make frequent international travel easier:
1 — Don’t eat the food!
This was perhaps my most important discovery during my frequent international travel — abstain from the airline food! About a year ago, I started eating healthy nuts, dried fruit and smoothies on flights rather than the airline meals. Removing the many preservatives and unhealthy meals from my trips has been perhaps the single biggest improvement in how I feel during frequent long-haul travel.
2 — Fluids, fluids and more fluids…but not just water
Everyone knows that flying is like being in the Sahara Desert, but I discovered that it’s not just water that does the hydration trick while flying. I drink large bottles of water on flights, but just like when I finish a half marathon, water alone doesn’t do the hydration trick. These days I also drink lots of orange juice and sports drinks to ensure I get the electrolytes and sugars needed to stay hydrated.
3 — Compression socks
Compression socks are an amazing gift on international flights and I now immediately put them on when I take off. They keep circulation healthy and leave you feeling refreshed upon arrival. The impact of wearing the socks is so dramatically positive on my jetlag that I’d wear a compression suit if possible!
4 — Ignore your home time
From the minute I step on a flight, I change my clocks and start operating on the destination time. While I’m traveling, I don’t think about the time zone in the other country, but force myself to mentally adjust to the current time zone. It’s true that your body operates on a set rhythm but a lot of jetlag is also mental, and I find that ignoring the time “at home” helps to adjust quickly.
5 — Treat long haul flights like a normal workday
Despite the sub-par flying experience, I nearly always fly United for the wifi connectivity. This allows me to treat a long haul day flights just like a normal workday. I catch up on emails, message with my teams, and last week, I was able to dial into our global sales call via WebEx. It’s miraculous how far wifi technology has come. For me,it means that I actually get EXTRA working time on the weeks I travel, leaving the UK at 10:30am GMT and landing in SF at 1:30pm PST. The common thought used to be that travel impacted productivity, but with this strategy, it actually increases it for me!
6 — If you can, develop a pattern!
When building a global technology company like MOVE Guides, it’s highly likely that you’ll be splitting your time between San Francisco, and another global city (London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, etc.). Over the years, I’ve met countless other entrepreneurs that do regular commutes like this. One of the most important things for me has been developing a pattern for this commute. I take the same flights each week I travel, I stay in the same hotels, I buy the same food to eat on the plane and I plan my work schedule around this travel. My team knows that 1–1s and team meetings happen on certain days and review of documents happens on flight days. I know exactly when I need to leave for the airport, if it will be crowded or not, how much time is required for pre-flight breakfast or dinner and remove all associated decisions and variability. This eases the pain of the commute — just like the patterns my parents and I had for my 90 minute commute to and from gymnastics when I was a child.
7 — Running and yoga
My final tip for successful cross-continental commuting is frequent running and yoga before and after flights. I try to run in the mornings that I fly and I make sure I do yoga the days after I land. Flying tightens up your muscles (especially in economy!) so it is key for you to get your body moving and stretching upon arrival. I often travel with a yoga mat, and I keep one in my SF office to use on arrival there. The other benefit I find with frequent running and yoga is that flying (and associated fatigue from jetlag) can make your mind slower to process information after arrival. Frequent workouts freshens up, not only your body, but also your thinking while traveling regularly!
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling and developing a unique pattern to fit my personal and professional needs has dramatically improved my cross-continental commuting experience. I hope you find these tips helpful and if you have any additional recommendations, I am always open to new ways to make flying as easy and stress free as possible. Happy flying!