Gas Week

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Secrets of travel success: East Asian business people have minimalist travel down to an art form

Posted by gasweek on 21 September, 2007

“The whole idea is to be able to grab your bag from the overhead, be the first through the arrivals gates and then go straight to your driver,” said Nomura Australia banker, John Keith. “Some airports can take two hours to get through once you add the carousel into your plans.” Keith spent several years in Hong Kong flying the East Asian overnight circuit, where he said business people have got minimalist travel down to an art form, wrote Mark Abernethy in The Australian Financial Review (20/9/2007, p.7).

Stream-line airport travel: “The first thing is, you don’t want to be standing at the carousel. Second, fly business. Third, arrange a driver from the hotel — it costs an extra $150, but in places like Manila, Seoul and Jakarta, this is money well spent.”

DIY attitude is key: The challenge then becomes how to pack what you need for a one or two-night trip on the road and still be presentable for clients. Keith said many Korean businessmen think nothing of washing their own shirts in the bathroom basin, hanging them up to dry and then ironing them in the morning. Many road warriors also travel without pyjamas and carry only their own toothbrush and razor in the sponge bag.

Speed tips: “I know people who don’t take phone re-charger or laptop leads — they call the concierge and have them sent up. Also, don’t wear lace-up shoes with your suit; slip-ons or boots can be worn with jeans if a client wants to go for an informal drink.”

Check stress with pool dip: When it comes to exercise, Keith took a pair of goggles and used the pool instead of the treadmills — that way he doesn’t take up space with running shoes and more clothes. It’s a trick also advocated by chief economist at the Australian Trade Commission, Tim Harcourt, who in four years has been in 41 countries and always takes a pair of goggles and swimmers to iron out the kinks after a flight. “My approach to travelling light is that even if you have a stripped-down wardrobe, compensate by giving your body a routine. If you work out once a day — wherever you are — then you get less stressed.”

Single bag option: Harcourt takes checked luggage if he’s away for more than a few days, but otherwise he travels with what he can stow above the seats. “The ideal situation is to have one bag in the overhead locker so when those doors open you can head straight for arrivals and then straight out of the building.”

Clothes tricks: Harcourt usually travels in his suit but has a trick for keeping it in shape. “As soon as I get to my room I hang up the suit and shirts in the bathroom; when you run the hot water for a shower, the steam takes out the creases.” Women may seem to have it tougher in terms of their choices, but head of communications and reputation at Wizard Home Loans, Jill Emberson, says there are woollen knit pant-suits and skirt-suits that are classy, yet able to be folded into carry­on luggage. “I travel with one bag — the carry-on — so I don’t take a suit bag. You fly in a dress and a jacket, with the other suit in the bag. Black is the best.” She also recommends a pashmina since it can be dressed up or down, doesn’t need to be ironed and avoids the “out of place” questions that a cardigan might raise.

Avoid the carousel altogether: She has a small sponge bag, a make-up bag and a jewellery bag ready to go and she uses “wheelie” carry-ons that fit in overhead lockers. “The whole point is to avoid the carousel. With some of my schedules I can’t afford to lose half an hour. I also book a car — not just the hotel car for overseas, but a car for when I get back into Sydney.”

The Australian Financial Review, 20/9/2007, p. 7

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