Five top travel hacks to boost your "TQ"

By John Walton, February 15 2012
Five top travel hacks to boost your

If IQ measures intelligence and EQ rates your emotional intelligence, consider TQ as your Travel Intelligence: an indication of 'travel savvy', your ability to travel smarter, faster, smoother and easier than the rest of the pack.

High-TQ travellers can draw on an arsenal of tips and tricks, some of which are useful even when you're on the ground.

Here's a quick list of five travel hacks that'll immediately boost your TQ!

1. Tame those timezones

Keeping time is important to every business traveller, and it gets tricky when abroad. Is that 10 o'clock your time or 10 my time? Oh, you meant 10 in the evening?

And are we talking Australian EST or United States EST? Let's not even discuss those places daft enough to offset their time from the rest of the world by thirty minutes. (SA and the NT, we're looking at you.)

Get travel-savvy by quoting time to colleagues and contacts in their own time zone, and being aware of timezone peculiarities.

Googling "time now in ______" is a good way to figure out simple conversions. When managing schedules and setting up phone interviews across several timezones the AusBT team often uses

Working across timezones can be tricky, but high-TQ travellers know how.. CIA
Working across timezones can be tricky, but high-TQ travellers know how.

2. Know how to quote and store your phone number

Anyone who's ever tried to dial international numbers from the US will have come across the odd American requirement to dial 011 before the country code.

That's tricky enough to get your head round, but a way to make life easier is to always quote and store phone numbers in the international style, with a + at the beginning.

So instead of noting down your office phone as (say) 02 5550 1234, write it down and store it as +61 2 5550 1234.

A high-TQ traveller knows that's useful when using your mobile from overseas -- without the + sign your phone will read numbers as a local call -- for the benefit of overseas contacts who might not know to drop the 0 in the area code, and for using services like Skype.

And whatever you do, don't quote it as 0061 02 5550 1234. That's wrong on so many levels.

3. Master the standard phonetic alphabet

The standard phonetic alphabet assigns a word to each letter: A is Alpha, B is Bravo, C is Charlie, and so on.

It's used by the military and in the air, but is remarkably handy in other situations where clarity is key... especially on the phone to a call centre over a crackly line or in a noisy conference room. Lots of letters have similar sounds and can be confused.

Being able to spell out your name, six-digit airline PNR reservation number and so on to an airline agent, hotel staffer or business receptionist is very useful.

After all, "M as in Melbourne" might not make sense if you're in Mumbai, Memphis or Mogadishu.

4. Speak enough of the local language to do names

In our experience, Australian business travellers who can speak the language of the country where they're doing business are still astoundingly rare.

A high-TQ traveller understands that, and can (at the very least) pronounce colleagues' and contacts' names. For example, the Chinese name "Wang" rhymes with "bong" not "bang".

There's any number of sources you can ask for help with language and pronunciation, from the Internet (Google Translate and its iPhone/Android apps are our favourites) to local colleagues to hotel concierges.

You can also have a listen to language learning podcasts on your next flight or search your smartphone's store for an app to brush up on your skills.

5. Keep frequent flyer and loyalty program numbers on your smartphone

There really is very little reason these days to bulk out your wallet with dozens of cards for your various loyalty programs -- airline frequent flyer memberships, hotel loyalty cards, car rental program numbers, and so on.

The airline or hotel doesn't really need to see your card, just your number. (If you're worried about missing out on miles or privileges on partner airlines when travelling abroad, say, you can always keep the cards in a separate wallet tucked away in your carry-on bag.)

The savvy traveller notes down the numbers and keeps them to hand when needed. The easiest way to do this is in a text file on your smartphone, which will sync to your computer for backup purposes.

If you want to get smart about it, you can use a synced document service like Evernote, an online spreadsheet, or one of the dedicated apps for tracking your frequent flyer points, passwords and numbers.

AwardWallet is our pick of the dedicated frequent flyer account apps for Apple's iOS and Android

What's your favourite travel hack?

Share your own top travel knowledge with your fellow AusBT readers in the comments section below, or on Twitter -- we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 243

Another thing to do when speaking English to someone whose English is not their first language is to speak formal, simple and concise English without slangs or big words. Patience is virtue in situations like this. Fortunate or unfortunately, English is taught to be spoken and written formally in ESL (English as Second Language) classes. Figure of speeches, double entendus, proverbs, idioms, euphemisms are to be avoided unless you know the other person's English competency. If the other party is ready to expand their English ability, then begin slowly to incorporate a little bit of fun and do explain what you mean as you try them.


19 Dec 2011

Total posts 48

One thing I have found very effective is to show a interest in the history & current events of the country you are doing business in. This requires some time to swat up on important historical events & keep up to date with current events. I do this by setting up a google alert on the country in question. This enables me to keep current with politics, social issues, financial trends & sports. Its amazing how this helps in understanding & relating to those you are doing business with.

An example of this was when I was doing regular business in finland. I read up on The Winter War of 1941 between Russia & Finland, this was a seminal event in finish history and is profoundly important to the finns. When I made reference to this & was able to show I was well read on the matter it went a long way in building respect & trust.

And it never goes astray to mention when the finnish ice hockey team beat the canadians!


28 Feb 2012

Total posts 3

Re item two: quoting phone numbers.  Why have you made a big deal of the US (and Canada and most of the Carribbean's) 011 international dialling code?  Look at ours.  0011.  Absurd. 

At least we Aussies don't do what many UK companies and people do. They assume the rest of the world uses 00 as their IDD access code.  Just look at the way they often quote UK phone numbers internationally.  Serves them right if they miss out on business opportunities.

You're right.  Use of the + as a symbol of a country's IDD access code is the only universal indicator.

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