London - When you're exhausted, your sleep pattern is all over the place from travelling through different time zones, and you're faced with living out of a suitcase, making international business feel like an uphill struggle.
Yet for many of us, business travel is a necessary evil, so it pays to take a few simple measures to make the process as painless as possible.
1. Be militant with your packing
Pack as little as possible, opt for carry-on luggage and keep a small transparent toiletries bag packed and ready to go, rather than pulling it together each time you travel. This will allow you to breeze through on arrival and avoid the pain of baggage collection. Likewise, invest in decent luggage. It doesn't have to be designer, it has to be strong and practical to avoid unnecessary hassle.
2. Keep jet lag at bay
It may sound trivial, but an under-slept and fatigued traveller is much less equipped to deal with the demands of international business than one who is alert and rested. Therefore, I advise arriving at your destination a couple of days in advance to give your body time to adjust. If this is not an option, reset your watch to the new time zone before you leave and try to align your sleeping pattern to that of your destination. Once you have arrived, do not sleep unless it is dark outside - no matter how tired you are.
3. Eat and drink smart
Overeating while in transit will leave you feeling tired and bloated. As a bench mark, try to eat no more than half of what you are offered and opt for proteins over carbs, as these take longer to digest and will keep you fuller for longer. It is far better to save yourself for an appropriate meal at your destination.
Likewise, dehydration can be the most punishing effect of flying because of the cabin's low humidity levels. To combat symptoms such as headaches and dry eyes, drink plenty of water and avoid tea, coffee and alcohol, as these all have diuretic effects.
4. Stay connected
A broadband USB stick will give you signal anywhere for a single monthly fee, enabling business as usual while on the move. This avoids all the hassle of trying to remember different logins and passwords when connecting to airport Wi-Fi. It may prove a little more expensive but the trade-off is convenience.
5. Research your destination
Sensitivity to cultural differences is vital for ensuring a foreign business trip goes smoothly. To avoid any embarrassment, invest time into learning about a region's core religions, customs and political structure.
And a few last, brief tips...
Avoid wearing shoes with laces if you don't want to be stopped at security, do squats and stretches on the plane to avoid cramps and always sanitise the tray table as they are rarely ever cleaned.
* Marco Robinson is an international businessman and public speaker, and the author of two books