International travel can bring out the best in us and the worst in us.
As humans we have basic needs. I won’t go into what they are as I’m sure everyone has a different view. But for me, when I’m on the road, my basics are food and sleep. If I don’t get both on a regular basis I get cranky. And worse, I’m known to get sick when deprived.
Landing in London this past Sunday morning, I was again happy that I chose not to fly Sunday night and go right to meetings Monday morning. Even when flying business or first class, if you’re on an eight-hour overnight flight it’s tough to sleep. The flight isn’t long enough to get a full night’s rest, and let’s face it: We’re likely going to be flying in coach (I did this time).
The last overnight flight I took was with my wife to Copenhagen and we were in business class. We each got about four hours sleep that night and foolishly took a nap a few hours after we landed. The next three days were rough.
On the contrary, when I landed in London this past week, my co-worker and I grabbed a quick breakfast, dropped off our things at the hotel, and proceeded to walk six miles throughout downtown London.
From our hotel near Paddington Station, we walked through Hyde Park (and the half marathon that was going on) and Green Park to Buckingham Palace. We continued towards the Houses of Parliament, saw the London Eye, and followed the Thames to St. Paul’s. At that point we decided we’d had enough walking and it was time to take the underground to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
We stopped for a snack and some coffee (must stay awake!) and continued on our journey. We hung out at the Tower of London, the Royal Armouries, and surrounding structures until they closed. At that point we hopped back on the tube and made our way to the hotel. After a 45-minute stop to freshen up, we were out again to a local pub for dinner. Some tasty pie, and bangers & mash were had, along with several glasses of delicious cask ales — a proper meal after a proper day of being a tourist.
We got back to the hotel around 9 p.m. The next morning I found out we both fell asleep by 10 p.m. I not only had an excellent night’s sleep, but it was one of the best I’d ever had. Walking all day had brought exhaustion to another level, and waking up the next morning after proper sleep in a proper bed, I was completely refreshed. While we certainly can’t do this every time, the little bit of planning we did and pushing through the exhaustion that first day made the trip very enjoyable.
If you want a recommendation for a great place to stay at a reasonable price, give the Shaftesbury Hyde Park a look. I’ve stayed there twice now, and while the rooms are small, they have all the amenities a road warrior would look for. For those who are wondering, yes, I did sign up for their loyalty program. While I certainly won’t be a big participant in it, every little bit helps!
This week I’m back in the U.S. in San Francisco. Anyone got an off-the-beat recommendation for a place for a “foodie” to eat?
Travel Tip: Check-in and scope out
If you haven’t already scoped out local businesses and shops near your destination hotel before your travel started, make sure you do it right away once you get there. Take that 10 or 15 minute walk around a block or two of the hotel to see what shops are handy. Perhaps you’ll find a local breakfast hotspot, a grocery store/market, or a CVS/pharmacy. Got a headache and forgot medication? Want a bottle of water or Gatorade and are not sure where to get one? Out late and forgot to get rations for the evening or first thing in the morning? Those few minutes of getting yourself acclimated with your surroundings can be a big saver when you really need it.
Packing Tip: Check your suitcase
No, I don’t mean go to the gate agent and have them take your bag from you. As a road warrior this is a last resort at all costs! Losing control of your possessions and adding another variable to your trip is a no-no. I mean take a good look at your suitcase and make sure all parts are working as expected. You don’t want to arrive at your destination and find out that a zipper probably isn’t going to make it home, or a small rip just got a lot worse in transit. Check the pockets, zippers (does your suitcase expand? check that too), handle, and, most importantly, wheels. Walking a mile through the streets of a busy city with a busted wheel on a rollerboard that you’ve got your laptop on top of is no way to travel. It didn’t happen to me this time, but I did hear a little squeaking and it got me thinking.
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