ONE of the biggest perks of my job with TTN has been the joy of travel that comes with it. The opportunity to explore new destinations, new experiences, new cuisines and the unique ways of life has always eased the pain involved in the journey itself.
Needless to say, my travels are largely work-centric and since I’m always keen to make the most of a new destination, I reward myself a few days of leisure after the long hours at exhibitions halls. After all even Bruce Poon Tip, global traveller and CEO of GAP Adventures built his travel career around “the passion of travel” and recommends taking time to stop and smell the roses.
So how does one make the most of their business trip? Here’s what I would do.
Book your flights a day earlier and use your time to simply take a walk. You’ll be amazed at how much one can discover about a city in a day’s walk. Most cities offer sightseeing walking or cycling tours, so that doubles up as your exercise for the day. If you are fortunate enough to get to your destination a couple of days earlier, hire a car, grab a GPS and explore the countryside. My colleague who recently returned from Copenhagen was absolutely delighted about his half-day trip to Sweden – via train.
My favourite activity in a new city would be exploring the local food and beverage markets. Sure, eating at a Michelin star restaurants are highly recommended, but I strongly believe that one must take time out to ‘live like a local and eat like one’ too. I can still taste the flavours of my modest dinner of grilled fish in Thessaloniki’s Modiano market. Most hotel concierges are more than happy to recommend the residents’ favourites, allowing a more authentic taste of the city. Post dinner; don’t be afraid to head to the local brewery for pint … or two.
If shopping is your cup of tea, look out for community markets that usually exhibit new and budding designers. This holds true not just for your clothes, but antiques and art. You are sure to find some real gems at smaller art galleries and more importantly, at affordable prices. Just be careful not to go overboard else you’ll pay the difference in excess baggage.
Then there is entertainment. In Pattaya it was the Alcazar Cabaret Show, Moulin Rouge in Paris and on my agenda at this year’s World Travel Market in London will be ‘Ghost, The Musical’ at the Piccadily Theatre. The lights, the visuals, the music and the drama, it doesn’t get more authentic than this. If you are entertaining clients, especially the Koreans – according to my friend, there is no better way to wrap up a long day of meetings.
While exploring is fun, we all need a little bit of help in a new city. Mine usually takes form of a Lonely Planet guide; that is until one of the greatest modern day discoveries came to being – the Social Media. Twitter offers a wealth of information for travellers wishing to experience almost anything in any destination across the length and breadth of the world. You’ll be amazed at how much information comes your way with the use of appropriate tag words. For e.g.: ‘#Beijing #weirdfood’ – and just stand back and watch as recommendations will pour in.
After all if Paul Smith could travel around the world for next to nothing courtesy his Twitter friends, it must be a good enough source.
By Shalu Chandran
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.