While you’re planning business travel to a new city, remember that getting around efficiently is a must to making any trip a success. Waze, TripAdvisor and Google Maps have done wonders for making unfamiliar business travel more informed both domestically and internationally, but what happens when you need more than the classics to maneuver you around a city?
Try these ground transportation tips to save time, be more informed and never be standing on a corner, luggage at your feet, wondering how it all went wrong next time you go somewhere new.
Travel With Tech
With addresses and maps for all of the important locations on your itinerary, TripIt is the modern equivalent to a binder full of printed-out MapQuest locations.
Whether it’s travel confirmation numbers, maps or your calendar, having a digital copy of important information when traveling is incredibly handy in case Wi-Fi is hard to come by or non-existent.
Before leaving, make sure your hotels as well as any major locations you’re going to have meetings or meals at have been inputted into TripIt. This way, when you hop in a cab, tuk-tuk or rickshaw, instead of wildly gesturing and butchering what bit of the language you know (English not excluded), you can simply show the driver your phone to convey your desired destination. This action will most likely produce a simple head nod on the driver’s part and you’ll be on your way.
At the turn of the last decade I could have used such technology when in Argentina. Although my Spanish was conversational, my accent wasn’t local. My double L pronunciation (found in the Spanish word for “street”) was off enough (“yah” instead of “jah”) that my wanted cabbie couldn’t understand what I was asking, and therefore drove off after a few minutes of unintelligible conversation. Being able to point to my phone would have saved me a less-than-pleasant late night walk, fully backpacked, to my eventual hotel.
Connect Your Accounts
If your company uses Concur for business travel and expense, then connect your favorite transportation apps for seamless and effortless expense reporting.
Not having to hassle with paper receipts will save you time and give you one less thing to think about—allowing you to better focus on the reason you’re traveling.
Utilize Your Concierge
They’re there to help. Use them.
Even if you feel confident about your eventual movements around the city, take your on-person accurate information to another level by having the concierge write all your important addresses and contacts for your trip in the native tongue on a business card or piece of paper.
This will create an even smoother experience with locals when navigating the city.
Don’t Be Afraid of Public Transportation
Taking public transportation in an unknown city often makes travelers internally scream, “I think I’m going the wrong direction,” but, it’s also where you’ll find locals looking to help and a more authentic travel experience.
Should you be doing business in a location for a length of time where you feel the need to mix it up (or maybe unlimited cab rides aren’t in the budget), joining the masses is great way to create empathy with those in the country/city you’re doing business, accrue a bit of informal market research by observing many forms of local advertising and pickup up a few good restaurant recommendations.
Just make sure you learn the phrase for, “this is my stop.”
Know How to Pay
Having the correct currency aside, there are many different ways various cultures handle compensation for moving people around. Uber and Lyft are attempting to unify the world in making a cab ride a transaction-less experience, but for those times when a push of a button on your phone isn’t going to cut it, be sure you know what kind of system you’re dealing with.
Although metered taxis are common in the States and many large international cities, a barter system is also very prevalent in other places.
Your best bet is to do a little research before arriving in your destination to learn about the local system and all of its options, or once again, ask your concierge what are fair prices for getting around the city. Many places I’ve been to actually have a max fare that un-metered cabs can charge a rider within city limits or to the airport, so you can at least get an idea of what to expect.
In the situation I mentioned above in Argentina, part of the cab driver’s annoyance with me was that I was also trying to negotiate a ride (as I had to do all through South America.) His final statement to me was a finger pointed at a meter, therefore telling me that my $5 offer would have to be taken up with the meter. I was a bit embarrassed by my denseness, but also happy to be in a city where an algorithm in a cab meter would save me from endless haggling.
Doing a little research can go a long way.
Have any tips you’d like share? Let us know in the comments!