Five ways to get the most out of business travel time

A globalised business world means travel. Here are five great tips for making the most of your business train travel.


In today’s business world, we have business meetings online connecting team members across cities, countries and continents. We send emails to partners in the farthest corners of the world within seconds. But, let’s face it, there’s nothing that beats the human factor and actual face time. A globalised business world means travel.

Photo credit: Martin aka Maha

Like many of you, I travel a lot for work. Hamburg-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Düsseldorf, Frankfurt-Cologne, etc. Whenever traveling domestically, I prefer to go by train. While sleeping is a tempting pastime, my work backlog usually nags me too much to allow peaceful slumber. Over time, I’ve learned how to optimise train travel time to actually get a lot done.

Here’s how:

1.    Book the right seat. The seats with tables may sound great. When there are four busy laptop users huddled around it, they are cosy at best. I prefer the seats with the fold-down tables. Don’t book the seats beside the door; they are draughty. You can book your seat in advance here on the Deutsche Bahn's website.

2.    Don’t forget your cables! Mobile phone charger, laptop charger and headphones (good ones). Two seats share one socket so charge everything beforehand in case your neighbour is hogging it.

3.    Think offline. There is Wi-Fi in the train. In theory. Today I’m testing their new system and … I’m connected! And I have been for 15 minutes! I’m impressed. Worst case scenario though, the wireless won’t work at all. So plan ahead. Download your documents. Save them offline. As long as you have saved the background information you need, forget that remote connection. Don’t waste your time trying to connect to a VPN tunnel. The Deutsche Bahn/Telekom have blocked that function.

4.    Use the peace and quiet. Assuming you are not sitting beside the local bowling club’s annual outing, it tends to be relatively quiet. (If you are beside the bowling club, noise-cancelling headphones will save your life). Anywhere near hills, mountains or forests, not to mention tunnels, chances are you won’t have mobile phone reception. Don’t plan those important follow-up calls or Skype team meetings. Train time is a great way of catching up on that strategic overview you’ve been meaning to work on.

5.    Be strategic about your lunch/dinner!
If you’re like me and all brainpower shuts down when hungry, get to the restaurant carriage early. The food is actually quite tasty, but they sell out fast. Better yet, bring your own food. I’ve had several trips with a very rumbly tummy after the announcement “Our train unfortunately has no restaurant carriage today”. End of my productive working day.

All said, taking the train beats flying for me on nearly all domestic German routes. As long as you work the system.

Happy travels!

By Cathy M.