Travel and technology at the New York City Travel Massive event

travel massive event in new yorkOn Tuesday, November 8, 2011, New York City Travel Massive will hold their November event at Winston’s Champagne Bar at the Gansevoort Park Hotel. New York City Travel Massive is a Meetup group in Manhattan that aims to bring together travel bloggers, travel brands, and travel start-ups while having a drink and a fun night out.

From 6PM-8PM, Travel Massive has reserved the entire 2-floor venue. While all are welcome, an RSVP is required to secure your spot. Along with wine and beer specials all night long, there will be free drinks given to those who arrive nice and early, and will be served until the allotted free alcohol runs out.

Event located at 420 Park Avenue South. Click here for more information and to RSVP to the event.

Couchsurfing: more than just a free place to stay

CouchsurfingHere at Gadling we’ve talked a lot about Couchsurfing, a very cool organization where members host each other. It’s an amazing example of how the world can work if you have a bit of kindness and trust. Millions of people have slept for free on millions of couches and made millions of friends in new places. I’ve been a member for a year and I’ve gotten a lot out of it, yet I’ve never once surfed a couch with them.

The two times I’ve used Couchsurfing have been when I’ve come up to Santander in Cantabria in northern Spain to explore the city in anticipation of moving there. Both times my wife was with me and she prefers hotels over couches, so we didn’t try to couchsurf. We both had great Couchsurfing experiences, though.

Before we visited last October I got onto the Couchsurfing Cantabria forum and announced we wanted to meet locals and learn more about life in the city. They organized a party for us and 25 people showed up! We got heaps of restaurant and bar recommendations, an invitation to a hike, and my wife got a list of local yoga studios.

We stayed in touch with the friends we made and this week we visited again. This time we got more suggestions of places to go, my son was introduced to a kid his age, and one of the Couchsurfers turned out to work for a rental agency, just the thing we needed! One well-connected woman is going to hook me up with a writer so I can tap into the local literary scene and a spelunker so I can get back into caving. Thanks to Couchsurfing, we won’t be moving to a city of strangers this September.

Couchsurfing puts you in touch with interesting, open people the world over. If you’re interested in exploring a new place to move there or just to visit, get your free membership and start networking!

Tickets now on sale for the Nomading Film Fest

Nomading Film Festival

If you’re an avid Gadling reader, then hopefully you’ve already cleared your calendar on the 18th of June (and the morning of the 19th).

In just 40 days, the Nomading Film Festival will descend upon the lively HI New York Hostel for a night of cinematic exposition that will showcase a lineup of short films from travelers, vagabonds, and video buffs around the world. If you’re looking for a night of entertainment or just a chance to meet and network with other travel aficionados, then book your ticket for the NoFF today.

Early bird tickets ($18.00) are on sale until May 16th, after which tickets go up to $25.00.

There’s even a little rumor that some of the Gadling crew will be present, so come out and show us a little love in person!

For more information, check out the official Nomading Film Festival website or be the early bird and book your tickets via Eventbrite.

Spend five minutes talking to your seatmate – Airplane tip

We’re accustomed to two extremes: the gregarious seatmate who talks through the whole flight, and the one who has his eyes closed from the start. Most of us prefer the latter, but we may be cheating ourselves out of a business contact or an interesting story.

In my opinion, here’s the best greeting to use to help find that middle ground:

Hi. Nice sitting with you. Would you mind giving me five minutes about you, then we can each read/work/listen to music/sleep, having had our lives enriched by knowing another interesting person.

You never know, you may wish you had a longer flight.

Don’t become a hermit: eight tips for solo business travelers

Solo business travel can be downright depressing. Even if you hate team dinners (and your colleagues), don’t mind dining alone and prefer a bit of privacy, frequent individual business trips can turn you into a hermit. After a while, you socialize almost not at all, become intolerant of other people and seek out the types of conversation that can only be held in your own head. Along the way, you can become perpetually annoyed or even seriously depressed. The tendencies that characterize your personal life can invade your job performance, as well. Sucking at work can take a toll on your self-esteem, intensifying the problem. Before you know it, you’re beholden to this toxic dynamic — extracting yourself requires a triumph of the will, which is unlikely when you’re trapped by the pressure of a seemingly inescapable situation.

Prevention is really the only course of action at your disposal. Otherwise, you’re left waiting for someone else to notice the problem and pull you out of your rut. For lone road warriors, unfortunately, regular exposure to anyone is rare. Clients are most likely to realize the situation, but that’s more likely to result in a call to your boss than to you. Your extrication from the perils of solo business traveler life thus could come at the cost of a ding to your career. To avoid this, you’ll have to be, as the management gurus say, “proactive.”

Your sanity and livelihood are on the line. Fortunately, you’re inherently equipped to protect yourself, and the travel environment offers much that you can use. However, both your mind and the hotel offer plenty in the way of temptation, so try to stay on an even keel.

Here are six ways to ward off hermitdom for the solo business traveler:

1. Dinner should not be “do not disturb”
Avoid room service at all costs. Once you get a taste of the convenience, even if you have a good reason that first time, you’ll slip into the habit of eating in bed every night. It won’t take you long to have an excuse for every occasion. Go down to the restaurant. If you have access to a car, leave the property. Otherwise, you’ll start to think that meals should be consumed in hiding. Some restaurants offer a communal table for business travelers: take advantage of it.

2. Join the club
Most business travelers have some form of elite hotel status, allowing them to hang in the club-level lounge. Skip the hotel bar, and use the exclusive offering instead. Sure, the food (and sometimes the booze) is free, which is always a plus. More important is that you’ll be around people like you. Shared experiences lead to natural conversations. And, if you and the other guests in the club are on long-term projects, you may wind up with some new friends. You may have a companion for dinner a night or two a week.

If your hotel doesn’t have a club level (or if you don’t have the status yet to get in), see if it has a manager’s reception. These are not at all uncommon (I stayed at a Homewood Suites in a Nashville suburb for that had one nightly). You can snack a bit, get some free liquor and meet the other road warriers who live the way you do.

3. Seek open spaces
You don’t have to work in your room. Instead of holing up in your cave, take your laptop down to the lobby — it has all those seats for a reason. Listen to the piano player while you peck away. Or, sit by the pool. Just being around people will help you remember that they exist.

For many professionals, confidentiality is a concern, but don’t let this become an excuse. Find a seat with your back to a wall, and you should be fine.

4. Take your client out
Yes, this is like volunteering for more work, but you’ll get something out of it. In addition to maintaining some human contact, you’ll strengthen your business relationship. Forego big team dinners in favor of one-on-ones where you can get to know each other. Just be careful not to get too chummy: it’s a business relationship first.

5. Check out the local color
If you’re on a long-term assignment, join a local gym instead of using the one at the hotel. Hit Craigslist to see if there are any groups around that share your interests. At first, you’ll be plagued by the nagging thought, “But, I’d have to drive (or walk or take the subway) to go.” Think about what home life is like for a normal person, though. You leave the house all the time. It shouldn’t be any different because you’re in a hotel.

Local networking groups can be a great outlet. You’ll meet people who want to be met, and you’ll further your career … all while keeping yourself from going nuts.

6. Find a friend of a friend
You may not know anyone where you’re going, but there’s a decent chance you know someone who does. Ask around. A friend of a friend can help you get oriented and give you an occasional buddy for dinners and drinks. It may be awkward at first, but that will go away. In the end, you’ll make a new friend, and you’ll get the hell out of your room for a while.

7. Meetups and tweetups
The internet can be useful. I’m always seeing traffic on Twitter for various get-togethers. Poke around. Also, cruise LinkedIn (if your mindset is professional) and Facebook (if it’s not). There’s always something going on in just about every city, and social media can make it pretty easy to find something that will turn you on.

8. Treat yourself to a spa experience
Chances are you need it anyway. Line up a massage one evening, and enjoy human contact of the most relaxing kind. Sit in a hot tub for a few minutes afterward. Then, go back to the drudgery of solo business travel at least somewhat refreshed.