Having figured out smart travel strategies, Kathleen, a very busy business traveller, hardly breaks a sweat at the prospect of living out of a suitcase. Business has long ceased to be limited by geographic boundaries. But globalisation has its dreary, exhausting side—long days away from home, red-eye flights and messed up body clocks.
The human body isn’t equipped to handle some of the stresses and strains that travel puts it through: The lower pressure inside airplanes, cramped seats (and sitting for long periods) and quick adjustments to different temperatures, languages, cultures, cuisines, customs—oh, and did we mention messed up body clocks?
No, it isn’t easy being a global citizen.
Just how tough is it, and how does one cope with it? Forbes India asked Kathleen Tan who travels for work.
Arriving in top shape is critical for her. How does she get to her destinations razor-sharp and alert? She shares some helpful insights.
You could say that Kathleen Tan knows a thing or two about travel.
As the commercial head of AirAsia group, she has worked closely with the airline’s founder Tony Fernandes. Tan oversaw the inception and rise of AirAsia Bhd in Malaysia and six AirAsia-branded airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. She is remembered for stirring up the South-East Asian markets by offering a million deeply discounted tickets in 2005. The airline continues to build on this tradition. In early-2013 she moved on to AirAsia Expedia Travel, the joint venture between the Malaysian airline and Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company. She has spearheaded AirAsia’s social media strategy and development.
She is also a social media champion and oversees the Expedia brand, AirAsiaGo, and Backick online travel agency business in South-East Asia, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
This experience helps her plan her own travel well and, also, makes her a perfect candidate to decode the rigours of modern-day business travel for us.
Yet another frequent flyer: Having worked in the travel industry for close to 10 years, my job requires me to travel frequently. I spend about two weeks every month on the road.
Coping with jet lag: As I travel extensively for work, coping with the symptoms of jet lag has become a way of life. I start adjusting my body clock closer to my date of travel and to my destination’s time zone when on the plane. When I arrive, I make it a point to exercise, go for massages and, most importantly, stay hydrated at all times.
Travel essentials include keeping a spare: My mobile devices and tablets are important to me so the mobile power banks that keep my gadgets charged are my most essential items when I travel. An extra set of clothing or toiletries are in my travel bags in case the airline loses my luggage.
Delays, no problem: As long as I am able to stay connected, I don’t have a problem sitting through long delays. Social media has always been my passion and I love staying connected with my Weibo followers (over 270, 000) and friends from all over the world. I also enjoy watching movies on my tablet.
Keeping up the appearance: It’s easy to end up looking tired or messy from flying but it’s not impossible to manage. To arrive in good shape, the key is to look fresh. I make it a priority to take extra care of my skin when travelling and this means applying moisturiser every two to three hours, wearing a facial mask to keep my skin refreshed, applying lip balm and doing lots of stretching during long flights.
(This story appears in the 07 March, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)