Every September I emerge from my brief summer hiatus and resume a business-travel schedule of gale-force velocity. This year's season will commence with a seven-day trip to China, followed by quick jaunts to Mexico and Miami—and we're only at October 1. By mid-November, I will have logged miles to London, Milan, and Rome. Good thing I love seeing the world.
One of the parts I like most about business travel—perhaps surprisingly—is the going and coming. It offers an opportunity for basic housekeeping, especially for someone who finds having time to reflect and take stock an almost indescribable luxury. However, there's always so much to do, from getting through manuscripts and neglected e-mails to taming those piles of unread magazines, that even overnight trips to Europe, with their darkened cabins and sleeping passengers, can require real discipline and planning.
You'll find information and advice on the subject in T+L's 2005 Business Travel Guide, but herewith, a few additional tips from the annals of my experiences on the road:
· Identify what you need, if anything, to help you sleep during overnight flights and the first couple of nights after you arrive, and don't forget to bring it along—or you may wind up, as I once did, nodding off in a comfortable chair during a meeting.
· Don't forget to schedule time for looking after your own physical and mental well-being. Exercise and refueling, for many of us, are key to maximum performance.
· Allow yourself a couple of hours to do something you like, whether it's visiting museums and galleries or shopping; this will help you distinguish between places—modern offices in Hong Kong, Paris, and L.A. tend to blend together—and keep your enthusiasm for business travel alive.
· Take advantage of free weekends, or an extra couple of days on either end of your trip, to explore the region; that's how I managed to see Rangoon and Pagan, in Burma, and Guilin, China. Cultural enrichment makes you better.
T+L is far from all business this month, with contributing editor Tom Austin's account of the Cuixmala resort, on Mexico's Virgin Coast, once the private preserve (wildlife included) of legendary tycoon Sir James Goldsmith and now open to travelers; and contributing editor Lynn Yaeger's report from the ever more vibrant precincts of San Francisco. Long-haul flights offered a rich yield: special correspondent Christopher Petkanas's discerning critique of the latest high-end retreats in New Zealand, and novelist Gary Shteyngart's riotously funny look at the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan.
Finally, to round out the mix, we provide our annual A-List of travel super-agents, the expert advisers who can perfect the process and the experience. I am, by the way, currently making my own "supplementary plans" to spend a couple of downtime days in Budapest in November during that business trip to Europe. I credit such excursions to "my deal with the devil," the devil being me—and my tendency to exist at a whirlwind pace. It takes self-control to balance work and play.