Mike Walsh, our most in demand Futurist speaker spends more time traveling to give speeches and research then at home. Below is his 10 Survival Guide for the Global Nomad – do listen to him – for we have not found another one who is more eligible to share such tips yet : )
1. Automate Your Schedules
Keeping track of flights, airports, connections and gate changes is exhausting. So don’t. If you haven’t already, download two apps – Flight+ and TripIt. Firstly set up TripIt to automatically scan you email inbox for any hotel confirmation receipts or flight itineraries. Then the minute you make a booking, TripIt will recognise the information and automatically pass it to the Flight+ mobile app, giving you a schedule of your upcoming flights, tracking information for delays and gate changes, as well as automatically adding the flight departure and arrival time to your Google Calendar so you can share it with your team.
2. Live In The Cloud
Your two biggest risks when you travel are losing your passport, and losing your laptop or mobile device. One of those things you can immediately mitigate. Sign up for Google Drive or Dropbox. Personally I use both, but you should investigate what suits you best. Store all your files, data and content in the Cloud – so that if you lose your machine, you can be up and running again very quickly. In fact, I believe in the very near future – you will be able to travel without a computer at all. After all, how many of you pack a TV when you stay in a hotel?
3. Book Mobile, Leverage Local
Increasingly I’m researching and booking hotels using my phone. I’m doing this partly for aesthetic but also for practical reasons. There are a handful of apps such as Jetsetter and AirBnB that beautifully merchandise travel experiences. Design hotels in Mexico, Paris apartments in St Germain, safaris in Africa – all at discount prices and gorgeously arranged on your tiny screen. But the other advantage of using mobile, is leveraging local targeting. If you are in an area of town you like, use Expedia to search for highly rated hotels in your immediate vicinity. And if you are using an Apple device, you will probably be able to not only book a hotel, but save the confirmation information directly into Passbook
4. Route Around Roaming Charges
I carry two phones. An iPhone 5 and a Blackberry Bold. The former may be de rigueur, but the latter earns me endless scorn and ridicule. That is, until I point out that the Blackberry is on a worldwide capped data roaming plan with PCCW, a Hong Kong carrier, for about $130 a month. When I travel, I leave my Blackberry on all the time as a dedicated email device and emergency voice contact line, but for all other calls and location services I buy prepaid sims for my iPhone. If you are doing this, make sure you also download unlockit, an app that allows you to change your iPhone APN settings so you can also use mobile data. More advanced nomads will also be using Google Voice and/or SkypeIN to redirect calls to their local SIM number as needed.
5. Master Flight Hubs
If you are a big corporate executive, you probably don’t book your own travel – in which case you can safely ignore this tip. But if you are running your own company, or are watching costs closely – understanding the dynamics of flight hubs and airline booking systems is essential. When you are planning a flight, use Kayak to understand how airlines vary their pricing models. You will quickly learn that originating flights in some cities is dramatically cheaper than others. For instance, flying from Sydney to Istanbul will cost you nearly $7,000 in business class as a return fare, but only $3,500 flying Istanbul to Sydney return. If you can, also find a good travel agent and learn how to incorporate round the world fares into your plans. They will save you a fortune when you need to navigate direct flights between business hubs which tend to attract premium pricing.
6. Speak Travel Geek
When things go wrong, you will sooner or later find yourself talking to a call centre representative in a virtual facility outsourced to the middle of nowhere. These people can ruin your life in three mouse clicks. So memorise the airline call signs, more formally known as the Nato Phonetic Alphabet. As soon as they answer, bark your reservation number in code to them. Clarity will prevent mistakes and if nothing else, will make you feel like a master of the travel universe for a few seconds before they place you on hold for an hour.
7. Lose Yourself
The definition of sadness are business trips that constitute of airport, taxi, bland hotel, meeting, room service – and then the same in reverse. So take an extra day. Check into a cool hotel. Use networks like ‘A Small World’ to figure out where the fun bars and restaurants are – and take a moment to relish living in lots of places at once.
8. Become A Member
Getting to elite status on airlines is not only an ego thing, it will save you a lot of time and heartache at check-in, security and while waiting for flights. Pick an anchor airline for each of the big travel consortiums (OneWorld, Star Alliance, SkyTeam) based on your travel patterns and regular hub cities. If you hit platinum on one alliance group, you can often get them to status match you on the others. Also very useful are new services like FoundersCard that not only get you up to 20% savings on flights, but can also secure you heavily discounted rates on good hotels. If you join, you can use my VIP Promo Code, FCSPX11
9. Invest In Your Luggage
When the world is your home, your luggage is your furniture. Invest in it. I’ve tried almost every brand out there, in infinite configurations. My conclusion? You can’t go past Rimowa. It’s industrial, tough and sleek. I use a aluminium four wheel IATA sized carry-on to store my laptop and breakable items, and a matte black travel trunk for my clothes.
10. Learn To Run
It’s not glamorous, but when you arrive on an A380 packed full of tourists at LAX, just remember that each one of them that get ahead of you represents 10 minutes of your life you will never get back. So wear sensible shoes. And run.
More from Mike’s blog here.