If you work in the City of London, you may be dreading your trip home today. If you work in Canary Wharf, you might as well sleep at the office. There’s a tube (subway) strike on and the commuting scenes this morning were grisly.
Fortunately, people with a banking bent are well-used to arduous journeys. Except air hostessing, few other industries offer the same potential for amassing air miles. The head of one investment bank (UBS) may even have met his spouse aboard a plane.
We asked a selection of senior investment banking staff how they deal with the demands of their peripatetic profession. Their answers are below. They apply to air travel, but some may be equally applicable when you’re trying to get to the other side of the city along with several million other people and the public transport system is down.
1. Have several stiff drinks. Skip the laid-on entertainment
“I tend to get drunk in the lounge and sleep on the flight,” says one senior equities professional. “I don’t watch films – they’re a waste of time.”
2. Use earplugs
“I get a huge competitive advantage from wearing ear plugs while I travel,” says @CT_Osprey, an anonymous institutional equities professional based in New York. “They eliminate background noise and give you far less stress. Noise-reduction headphones are a flashy waste of time and don’t make it silent.
3. Take a Kindle
“On a long haul flight, I take a Kindle for reading books,” says Maxwell Maximini, a pseudonym used by the private banker behind the Banker’s Umbrella Blog. He says a Kindle is better than an iPad because it doesn’t tire your eyes. “I load any analysis I need into that in pdf format, but to tell you the truth I’ll probably spend 75% of the time on light reading like a thriller or a sports or political biography.”
4. Bring wet wipes and wise clothing
“If you’re delayed or miss a flight you might be stuck in an airport somewhere for a long time and when you’re jet lagged, sweaty and smelly a few wet wipes to wash yourself are nearly as good as a proper shower,” says Maximini. He also advocates rolling rather than folding clothes when you pack them and wearing a shirt with French cuffs, “just so I cannot possibly forget to take cufflinks with me.”
5. Be pleasant to the staff
However bad things are, don’t take things out on the travel attendants. They are your friends. If you have an earache, The Epicurean Dealmaker (a NY-based M&A banker and blogger) advises that you, “have flight attendant put a paper towel moistened with hot water in a styrofoam cup, then cup it around your ear. It helps.”
6. Be thankful
However bad work-related travel is, it could be worse. You could have children with you. “In my opinion, people flying business class on their own who make a big deal of it need to try flying economy with three young kids,” says one London-based macro trader.