Traveling in consulting can be both a blessing and a curse. For the first year or so of my consulting career, I always wondered what to do in a new city each evening. I felt immense pressure to do something exciting like trying new restaurants or bars, but it wasn’t easy to get out after a long day at work. I normally resorted to “Netflix and Chill” (by myself, of course) each evening, but opening my laptop always ended up with me sending off another email or finishing up a presentation. The last thing I want to do after work is… work. Then one day, I discovered one of the biggest travel hacks that changed has my life as a consultant to this date: the Amazon Fire Stick.
Yes, I know you’ve heard of a Fire Stick, but have you ever thought of using one on the road? You can easily plug in a Fire Stick to any hotel TV and watch your favorite moves and shows on the big screen. This has been absolutely life changing, and I now take my Fire Stick everywhere I travel.
Here are some of the things you can do every single day on the road with this travel hack:
Play music from your TV (that’s right, no more bringing speakers if you like to jam out in your hotel room!)
Stream workout videos from YouTube and get in shape
Live stream your favorite shows & sports games
There are so many incredible uses for a Fire Stick when you’re on-the-road — it’s really hard to believe that many consultants and travelers don’t have one. After the first few days of using it for travel, over half of my project team bought one for themselves and had me to thank!
Bottom line, this is a must have for consultants and quite possibly the best travel hack I have come across after years in the industry.
Consulting isn’t an easy job — we commonly work 80+ hours a week, fly coast-to-coast, and juggle conflicting priorities. Over the course of my time in management consulting, I’ve found the following essentials to be crucial to making the grueling life on the road survivable.
Headphones are probably the most commonly-used gadget for consultants (aside from their smartphones, of course). They’re used to drown out noise in airplanes, take client calls, and listen to music. I probably use headphones upwards of 6 hours a day — that’s over 2,000 hours a year! A great pair (or two) of headphones go a long way in making life just a little bit easier. Here are the two I use:
If you travel for work, investing in the right luggage is a must. Luggage should be the right size for your belongings, easy to use, durable and stylish. I use two pieces of luggage on a daily basis — my carry on luggage and laptop briefcase.
Wearing a nice watch to work can go a long way. An often overlooked and understated accessory, a watch can add flavor and style to any look. That being said, a nice watch does not mean a $10,000 Rolex. There are dozens of well-crafted & well-priced watches on the market for both men and women.
Taking some time away from work to unwind and relax is important to manage day-to-day stress. I love to read books during my free time, and a Kindle is an affordable way to have access to a lifetime’s worth of reading material.
It’s not uncommon for folks outside of consulting to really wonder, “What is consulting?” What consultants do on a day-to-day basis depends on client / project, travel schedule, and level. While there is no “typical” day in consulting, I’ll try to take you through what a day in the life of a consultant could look like from my own personal experience after 2+ years in consulting at a Top 5 firm.
6AM – Alarm
My 6AM alarm rings and I remember the promise I made to myself the night before: to work out. Feeling tired and slightly hungover after a team dinner & drinks, I turn it off and wait for the next alarm to wake up. Truth is, I make myself that promise every night — it rarely gets fulfilled.
7AM – The Real Alarm
Okay, now it’s really time to get up. Before I get out of bed, I immediately reach for my phone to check my email and make sure there were no fire drills (i.e. client emergencies). I start getting ready, thankful I remembered to pack all my personal care items this week (this kit has pretty much everything a man could need, travel sized).
(Pro Tip: For a quick & comfortable shave each morning, try Philips OneBlade — this changed my life).
8AM – First Call & Leave for Work
After getting ready, I quickly call an Uber to work and take out my AirPods to hop on my first call of the day with our offshore team in India. I’m hoping I don’t have to speak because I’ll probably lose service in the elevator down and will have to drop the call when my Uber driver inevitably calls to tell me they have arrived (to all the Uber drivers out there, we know when you arrive. Give us a minute.).
8:30AM – Coffee
Once I get to the office, I put my things down, grab a co-worker or two, and go get a coffee to start my day. I prefer higher-end coffee shops (e.g. Blue Bottle), but I can settle for Starbucks. My order is a trenta cold brew (black), in case you were wondering. After numbing myself to the effects of coffee over time, caffeine rush lasts only about 3 hours.
10AM – Daily Scrum Meeting
After firing off emails and sipping on a burnt-tasting cold brew for most of the morning, our team’s daily scrum meeting time approaches. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is when the whole team gets together in a room and talks about what they are working on. In my opinion, a colossal waste of time. But yes, we do this… every. single. day.
11AM – Client Calls
I don’t like to schedule my client calls first thing in the morning because I’m typically still half-awake, so I take a couple from 11 till lunch time. These calls are typically either design / requirements gathering sessions (common when working on a technology project) or meetings to work through some sort of issue or fire drill (most of the time they aren’t even real issues — they were self-created through one misinterpreted client comment followed by several games of telephone down the chain of command).
Pro Tip: Always offer to schedule meetings for your team and client. It’s a bit of manual work, but you get to choose a time that works well with you.
1PM – Lunch
It’s finally time for lunch. I try and push myself (and my team) to eat as late as possible because it makes the 2nd half of the day seem shorter, but since I don’t eat breakfast I’m famished by this time. I offer to order for the team in most cases (this way, I get to pick the restaurant), and we get it delivered through Uber Eats or Postmates. I’m typically still in calls when lunch arrives, so I send an analyst down to go play Where’s Waldo with the delivery guy.
2PM – More Meetings
If you haven’t noticed, meetings are a trend. I spend roughly 80% of my days in meetings, which leaves me 20% of my time to do actual work. This is the cost of keeping senior leadership and the client happy and informed while still trying to get your job done.
3PM – Leave for Airport
I traveled from the west coast to the east coast and back during the work week, so I pack my beloved Tumi laptop bag and leave for airport earlier than most folks. On the way to the airport, I take another client call (it’s incredible how many calls you get invited to when you have a little subject matter expertise).
Pro Tip: Remember to block off time on your calendar if you don’t want meetings scheduled — when I was on the west coast and had east coast clients, I always blocked off 5-8am so I could get a full night’s sleep.
5PM Take Off & PowerPoint
I rarely get time to stop by the airport lounge, so I have my first drink on-flight (double Bloody Mary). Shortly after, I bust out my laptop again and start working on presentations. These presentations are typically for next-day leadership status updates or client design sessions. Airplanes are my quiet time, thanks to these Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones, and where I work the most efficiently. I love these headphones now that I no longer have to hear the first-time flyers complaining that they can’t connect to the wifi or annoying babies crying all flight long (send ’em to the back of the plane!).
8PM Land, Groceries, and Home
There’s no better feeling than landing home on a Thursday evening. With a smile on my face, I rush out to find my car and get to Trader Joe’s to do my grocery shopping for the weekend so I can get home and sleep! Looking back, I probably would have saved a lot of valuable time with Amazon Fresh. After I get home, I turn on Netflix for an hour and slowly fall asleep after another long (yet rewarding) week on the road.