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Here's how to 'KonMari' your business travel

Blog post   •   Mar 06, 2019 10:16 GMT

Minimalist Travel: declutter your suitcase, data, and finances

Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo has become something of a sensation since scoring her own Netflix series. But does her methodical approach to cleaning a house hold any lessons for bleary-eyed travelers?

You don’t have to thank the airport terminal, and let’s face it, business travel doesn’t always ‘spark joy’. But a little organizing now, possibly even before you have a trip planned, can make things a lot easier once you head to the airport.

1. Pack a gadget bag

Why all countries haven’t been able to reach a consensus on a single type of plug remains a real head-scratcher. Apparently, there are around 15 different types of plugs in use today. This socket inconsistency can be one of the biggest irritants for the frequent traveler.

Sometimes the hotel is able to lend you an adapter... but to avoid a situation where your phone battery’s down to its last five percent and you’re roaming the streets on a cold winter night looking for the nearest 7-Eleven, it’s probably best to plan ahead and pack your own.

Think of which destinations you visit most frequently, and figure out what plugs and adapters you’re likely to need. Put them all in a bag that you can simply throw in your suitcase on your way out the door. Between trips, try to leave it on the shelf, so that everything is in its place when you need to travel. Often, adapters aren’t very expensive. It might make sense to buy spares, so you can have a dedicated kit for traveling.

One of my colleagues recently acquired this nifty gadget which combines most adapter types into a single pocket-sized device.

2. Look into data options in advance

Often, business travelers are content to buy a SIM card when they arrive in a new country. And often it’s cheaper. But increasingly, telecoms providers offer options that are reasonably affordable and more convenient than a prepaid sim. Singaporean providers, for example, offer 2GB data packages that operate across Southeast Asia or even globally. The packages last for a month or until the data runs out. That means if you visit more than one country, your data will continue to work without the hassle of lining up for another SIM card. If you wait until you’re on WiFi to watch Netflix, it’s probably enough data. And because you have your own phone number, you won’t miss any important calls.

3. Download the right apps

Some apps are useful for travel just about anywhere. Our company’s myCWT app, for example, lets you book flights and hotels, keep track of your itinerary, get alerts on disruptions like flight delays and gate changes, and also packs a number of other handy features like a currency converter and weather forecasts. This spares you the clutter of separate exchange rate and weather apps. Google maps is also indispensable.

It’s also worth looking into ride-hailing apps for your destination. Uber may have started it, but now, you’ll need GoJek in Indonesia, Grab elsewhere in Southeast Asia and Didi in China, for example. If you don’t speak the language, these apps save you the trouble of trying to explain to a driver where you need to go.

I travel to Hong Kong a lot and always use the TakeTaxi – HK Taxi Translator app. It translates addresses from English to Cantonese, so it’s easy to tell taxi drivers where I want to go. Some languages are too hard to attempt for even the most seasoned road warrior, and for me, Cantonese is one of them!

4. Declutter your finances

Nothing sparks less joy than reading the fine print from your bank. But it might help. If you travel a lot, it’s a good idea to find out if your bank offers competitive exchange rates, and what type of fees it charges for using your card overseas. It might be worth shopping around for an account that offers better deals for travelers as well as perks like airline miles.

It’s also worth finding out if your bank is a bit too eager when it comes to canceling cards overseas. Some accounts will even put a hold on an account simply for making an overseas transaction without informing the bank you’re headed overseas.

5. Pack a capsule wardrobe

Marie Kondo herself has a few tips for maximizing space in a suitcase. (Basically, fold clothes as small as possible and pack them vertically). But packing for a business trip is about more than using space well. It’s also about having everything you need to appear presentable and ready for business as soon as you arrive at the other end.

Mostly, this means choosing enough matching items to last the length of your trip. It might make sense to limit the color palette to maximize the number of matching combinations. You might pick black or brown shoes and belt, and then use that choice as a basis for picking out the rest of their clothing.

Finally, when you head to the airport, make it easier on yourself, and everyone behind you: if you know you’ll be going through a security checkpoint, ditch anything metal from your ensemble. 

Blog author: Michael Valkevich, VP Global Sales and Program Management, Asia Pacific, CWT

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