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31st July 2018

Top Tips for Consultants on the Road

During a recent project with the NHS Leadership Academy we spent a lot of time travelling by train around the country, facilitating a series of events and collecting data along the way. As we moved from one place to another with all our luggage we have discovered what works well when travelling and what we would do differently next time. We have encountered a few mishaps, which have been followed by many moments of laughter!

In the spirit of ‘every day is a school day’, we want to share with you our travelling tips that we picked up along the way. We all learn from each other, so please do share some of your insider tips with us too!

 1. Invest in good travel equipment

As consultants, it is not unusual to spend a lot of time travelling to different locations to deliver work. This usually means that you also have a lot of materials to transport with you too, so it is well worth investing in some decent equipment to ensure things don’t get ruined. Recently, we have had to transport a lot of large paper material (e.g. large rolls of paper, flip chart paper etc.) so using some creative thought, we invested in a couple of tube cases that are used for artwork.  They are really easy to carry and keep your materials in pristine condition. So, plan ahead and think how you can get your materials to arrive in one piece.

2. Plan your route

This may seem an obvious one but sometimes it’s the obvious ones that catch you out. If you are travelling somewhere new, look at your route beforehand and make sure you know how long your journey is going to be. We learnt the hard way when thinking we had a leisurely 20-minute walk in the sunshine to catch a train after finishing a workshop. This then turned into a fast-paced 40-minute walk (which eventually turned into a run, with all our luggage) to get to the train station in time. It was the last train of the day and it was a 5-hour journey home, so there was no way we were missing that train – luckily, we made it just in time! Extra tip – if you are using a navigation app on your phone, make sure if you are walking it is set to ‘walking’ mode, not driving.

3. Reserve a train seat…and check its location

When you are on the move with work, specifically travelling on trains, having a reserved seat is a must. You will have probably been standing all day delivering a workshop (and you may have had to run a little to catch the train – see ‘tip 2’), so you must take every chance you can get to rest your legs and feet. It is also a great opportunity to get a little bit of work done too, so try and book a seat with a table. However…if given the opportunity to review where your seat has been reserved, we highly advise that you check that it has not been unfortunately located next to the train toilets. It is especially unfortunate if there is only one toilet on a busy train and you are trying to eat your lunch. We will say no more, but do try and avoid this. Trust us, we speak from experience!

4. Be nice to people…you don’t know when your paths might cross again

Showing gratitude to those who help us on our travels is so important, from the train manager who checks your tickets to the hotel staff who help you with your luggage. Saying thank you makes people feel good inside, both those saying and receiving the thanks…and you don’t know when showing a little bit of kindness might help you in the future. We discovered this when we were staying at a hotel and in need of a taxi to a train station, but none were available. A member of the hotel staff, that we had previously met and helped check us in, recognised our desperate need and offered to drive us there himself after his shift. Remember, a little kindness can go a long way.

5. Stay healthy

If you are away for consecutive days, you are no doubt going to be eating out…a lot. Working long days, travelling at all times of the day and staying at hotels usually leads to craving quick, easy, comfort food. As nice as it is to ‘treat’ yourself to eating out it is important for your health and energy levels to ensure you are still eating a good amount of fruit and veg every day. So, get yourself organised and make sure you pack some healthy snacks (e.g. fruit, nuts, home-made granola bars) and plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated as you go on your travels! Also, investigate whether your hotel has a gym or spa, this will help boost your mental and physical energy levels.

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