This past weekend, I embarked on a journey around the world which can only be described as a mix of foolish, fantastic, frivolous and fruitful. Yesterday, I arrived back in London and to the amazement of myself (and perhaps a few others) I felt absolutely fine and experienced zero jet lag. Aside from cool reviews and experiences, there are so many thoughts from a journey like this, so I wanted to share a few insights and reflections…
This trip was a mix of geeky travel reviews, cool attraction sneak peeks, city guide research and a chance to interview an airline CEO in mid air. I can’t say I intended to go around the world in 5 days when i started planning the trip, but I’m really glad I did. It was amazing to fly across Europe, down to the Middle East, into Asia, across the Pacific, Over the USA, across the Atlantic and back to London.
I was able to review a few cool products I’d been hoping to try, while also revisiting old favourites, which is always both fun and fascinating. Some things grow better with time, while others that were once crap, tend to get worse. More on that later. Along the way I was able to check out…
- Qatar A350-1000 Qsuite Business Class
- Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class
- American Airlines 777-300 First Class
- Plaza Premium First Lounge at Hong Kong
- Andaz Singapore
- Fairmont San Francisco
- Qantas First Class Lounge Los Angeles
- Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha
Expect those reviews in due time.
The trip culminated in San Francisco with a special flight to London called “Pitch On A Plane”, a collaboration between Founders Forum and British Airways where a short list of semi finalists were able to pitch an incredible cast of leading tech world stars (who were on the flight) their great travel start up idea. The winner will receive support, incubation and other help from British Airways and the team at Founders Forum to make it big. British Airways CEO Alex Cruz was also on board, and this was an opportunity for a one on one sit down, the results of which will be published on Sunday.
Ever since I kicked jet lag by fasting and not drinking on a trip from Europe to Australia, I’ve been fascinated with the concept. Photographic evidence will show that I did not strictly follow the no alcohol, no food fasting guidelines, but my pursuit of them made this one of the least foggy trips I’ve ever been on.
As far as tips, I’ve got a few things which I believe really helped me to stay remotely fresh during the adventure. Again – it’s not about perfection here, but the pursuit really does tend to help, even if it’s nicer to pretend that it doesn’t : )
- Avoid eating on planes: I really try to eat a great, nutrient rich meal on the ground before I get up in the air. Eating on the plane, no matter how tempting, tends to give me (and perhaps you) all the “feels” you’re not hoping for when you know there’s much ahead of you. It’s not to say don’t eat at all, but try to keep it light and don’t just eat because you can.
- Focus your big meals onto destination time at the next place you’re going. Basically, if I’m leaving Europe and headed for the Middle East, my last big meal should be afternoon local lunch time, which is dinner time there.
- Water is always the answer. I was able to sample some wines on this trip which were worth giving up on the perfect jet lag cure. At the same time, I rarely exceeded a glass or two in the air and always washed them down with at least double the water content. Ideally, about 8x is ideal. When in doubt, drink water and keep drinking it.
- Invigorate yourself. Exercising in any capacity is the key to getting your body back into gear. Whether it’s a walk around a city or a beast mode gym workout, do some. In the morning it can help perk you up, and if you’re struggling to sleep, an afternoon work out can really help your body to rest.
- Adjust to light. I am still salty that an American Airlines flight attendant made me lower the blinds two hours before landing into LAX on a 13 hour flight. I crack blinds just a pinch to help my body adjust to the concept that I’ve gone from night time to day time to night time back to day time. If you’re struggling to stay awake during the day, open the blinds or go outside.
I love Singapore full stop, but even if you can only enjoy a bite sized sample, it’s the worlds greatest layover city. With just one night and a day to spend there, I was able to carve out so much meaningful enjoyment in just a few hours. But even if you can’t leave the airport you won’t be sad. Singapore’s Changi Airport offers the worlds largest indoor waterfall, a legitimately world class shopping mall, a movie theatre and food stalls you’d gladly pay for in a major city. Also, it smells good.
San Francisco’s Homeless Problem Really Is Getting Worse
I have a great pilot friend who told me he’ll no longer fly to SFO, after being attacked during broad daylight by some nutters. I’ve long loved the city of San Francisco and continue to-to this day, but I must admit that the homelessness and more importantly, the amount of mentally ill people roaming the streets has become more alarming to me. Many from the group I was with in the city were very put off about exploring, especially in the evening because of this, which says everything about how important the problem is.
Business travellers always complain that they only get flight upgrades on short meaningless work flights and that they only get hotel upgrades when they get in late and leave early for a one night stay. I had exactly this happen to me, in the most extreme way. I checked into the Fairmont San Francisco on a reservation for a standard king room and was very mysteriously upgraded to the freaking Tony Bennett suite. It was massive, with sweeping view from the Golden Gate Bridge to the airport practically. Alas, I arrived at 10:30PM and left around 8AM. So awesome, so tragic, so funny.
No One Does Airport Lounges Like Qantas First Class
Airport food, much like plane food has a general recognition for being awful. Most of the time, it really is. Qantas First Class Lounge at Los Angeles (LAX) is such a noted exception, as are the airlines first lounges at other outposts. Yet again, I realised why on this trip. When Qantas rotates their quarterly seasonal menu, they send a training chef from the Rockpool group to teach the staff in each lounge exactly how to nail each dish to their original standard. It shows. It was better than ever.
US Immigration Queues Really Put Travellers Off
I was in hot water a few weeks ago (at least with a certain sub set of US travellers) when I suggested that lack of investment in tourist friendly services and a general feeling that international visitors are not welcome are key reasons for the decline in US tourism. I spoke with many people who simply put said that the horrible lines at the borders were a reason they don’t come to the USA unless they have to. Holidays are priceless and investing in speedy but secure infrastructure to get people on their way to enjoyment is crucial. Having two lanes open with angry officials is not the way.
Even though I travel almost constantly, there was something really exciting about this trip. I’ve very rarely crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in such a short sitting and getting to see the sun rise and set over each reminded me constantly of why I so deeply love what I do. Travel is the ultimate dream, and if anyone is going to get to help sell it to the world, I’m so glad it’s me.