6 Business Travel Tips I Learned Leaving Buenos Aires

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Business Travel / 7 comments
Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo

So less than 48 hours ago I was still in Argentina, doing my thing. Enjoying empanadas, hot medialunas fresh out of the oven and great coffee.

Somehow all the things I disliked when I first got there, I had grown to love. Dog poo on the street walks challenging your every step, random crap littering the streets and burned out cars parked by the curb. The taxi cabs that were always a little too small with the driver smoking a cigar or playing great hits of the 80s so I could sing along.

Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo

The fact that no-one ever had change for notes bigger than 50 pesos (around US $12) and that everything was `solamente effectivo’ – while it sounds like only efficient, it means just cash payments.

In fact, my credit card was all but useless in Buenos Aires unless I was hanging out in the swanky tourist areas like Palermo where there over inflated prices for everything I tried to avoid.

Still, high prices didn’t really account to high prices at a fancy restaurant in the US. When I ended up having to pay $30 for an extra bag at the airport, I realised that I could have bought four decent lunches or dinners for that.

Among many things I’m going to miss, such as the charming European style buildings and grand parks, is my Ultimate Frisbee Team Big Red who are in the finals this weekend. Plus all the lovely friends I got to make during my short 5 months there.

I’m going to miss my studio apartment too – I just adored it – the noise of the children at the local school nearby and breakfasts on the balcony overlooking the small pool that I enjoyed over summer.

Oh and cheap cider, great cheese, excellent ice-cream and listening to the Porteno Spanish. And more than anything, my novio. But we’re working on getting him to New Zealand so I can show him my paradise.

It’s all those little things that you get to take away with you and will stay with you forever. All those things you just can’t really explain to people until they experience it themselves.

Natalie at LAX airport

My flights via Houston to Los Angeles all went really smoothly and the new Continental United merger seems to be going well – great service, ok food and leaving on time, if not early.

I even got an extra meal from the friendly air steward when I had hunger pangs around 2am in the morning and was given a healthy salad.

I also got to chat to the pilot on the way down the ramp when I said `Is that coffee to keep you awake’ and he was like `You betcha!’ I decided not to be worried about that….

He couldn’t believe that I don’t sleep on flights, exclaiming `But it’s 10 hours.’ I explained that since I was a wee toddler, any flight from New Zealand lasted at least 24 hours.

The turbulence for the first 2 hours was some of the worst I’d experienced, but I really enjoyed it as it was like being on a roller coaster ride but without the stomach churning. I was highly efficient during that time given I was not allowed to get up to go to the toilet!

I got my 3 month blogging editorial calendar completed, and I am stoked (Kiwi word used for super happy) as it’s been on the agenda for a while. Now I feel ultra organized and focused. I also started writing the first few blog posts for my June Build Your Online Business series – yep stay tuned for that one – before my laptop died.

To start the Build Your Online Business series, read The Secret Ingredient to Building an Online Business first.

In fact, I am at my most efficient on planes, no wifi (unless you’re on Virgin) and a 3 hour battery life means I get shit done! Then, I turn to reading books and writing before I switch off to watch some movies, or play travel games.

Yes, I found out that the word for 6 in Icelandic is `six’ and that they have one word that sounds like `[email protected],’ which they use a lot. I scored 11/11 on the numbers and 9/10 on phrases – I think the second one I could not remember to save my life, but still fun.

I also learned that I’m a way better online Texas Holdem poker player than I am in casinos. Also when I’m playing with `fake’ money I am seriously dangerous! I started with $3,000 like the 7 other people in the tournament and beat everyone, coming out with $24,000 – ‘all- in’ is such a great policy to have, so many people fold on that 😉

Travel Tips for Suitcase Entrepreneurs

After the hundreds of flights I’ve taken in my life I always learn something new and I’d like to share these tips with you:

Always take snacks on a flight with you – the meals in themselves are not really sufficient and grazing is a better way to keep your energy levels high.

Take a water bottle out of you – I really can’t stand people buy new plastic bottles every time. Just get one and keep refilling it at the water fountains that almost every airport has. Just empty it out before you go through the bag check.

Always have a book with you – I got through 5 chapters of Carol Roth’s ‘The Entrepreneur Equation‘ waiting for customs when I got to Houston. Everyone else just looked pissed off after waiting for over 40 minutes. I instead had something to talk about with the friendly customs guy. It’s the first time I’ve called myself a blogger and writer. He seemed intrigued and dropped all the other security questions.

To read more about Carol Roth’s book, open The Dirty Little Secrets to Being an Entrepreneur in a new tab.

Be thankful for kind people – I see too many people at airports in a hurry or bad mood treating the service staff rudely. I decided to say a thanks to the trolley man when I replaced my luggage trolley although I don’t think he heard me. Turns out he definitely saw me in my bright green jacket, which was lucky as I left my book (very unlike me) on it, and he kindly returned it to me when I was waiting for bag check!

Don’t panic – There are a few things seasoned travellers know – if your bags have been checked on to your flight, it cannot leave without you. Well it could if you were extremely late but that takes quite a long time for them to find your bags and take them off. Just about enough time for you to make your flight if you’re lucky. In my situation, I was not late, but the customs line and bag check left me very little time. I laughed (internally) when the guy in front of me said “I guess I’ll make my flight at 9am.” It was currently 7:16am and mine was at 7:50am. I figured he’d be ok.

Don’t forget your laptop – This one may sound obvious but given you have to take your laptop out and put it on a separate tray to your other bag, it can be done. I was putting mine back in my bag when I noticed a rather new looking Dell computer lying all alone in a tray at the end of the line. Abandoned. I then noticed a very worried looking man racing back towards it. Do a bag count and always do a double check to make sure you don’t leave items behind.

 

  • PointA_PointB

    Natalie, I lived vicariously through your updates and loved hearing about your adventures in BsAs. The never having change for what I considered a very small about of money made me nuts too. Getting change had to be factored into your daily activities it seemed. You didn’t mention the taxi cabs seemingly made from beer cans (not too sturdy) and the insanity of flying down the streets at all hours of the night coming back from milongas. Here’s hoping they figure out that cleaning up after your dog is good thing for everyone. Still, the great cheap food, fantastic wine, the coffee, the ice cream, the pastries, and the European feel make me want to go back as soon as possible.

  • NatalieSisson

    @PointA_PointB Well if you do head back then I will live vicariously through you! I think the dog poo situation was improving, the more people who start picking it up the better it will get. Still made walking fun 😉 Yes the taxis are not so sturdy, completely different to the amazing Mercedes taxis in Germany. I shall defo miss the relaxed way and the way time just flowed so easily.

  • Lindsay

    I studied abroad in Buenos Aires 8 years ago (eek…makes me feel old) and your descriptions of the frustrations and highlights brings back many memories. It sounds like the city hasn’t changed too much. I miss the alfajores, dulce de leche ice cream and empanadas! I once got on the wrong bus and was kicked off in the middle of no-where because I didn’t have the right amount of small bills / change. I had to walk around the deserted residential neighborhood until I found some people who could give me change and point me in the right direction.

    • Natalie

      Oh Lindsay that’s such a great story but also so odd. I mean the buses cost so little! What’s it to them. The alfajores are definitely a must try – there’s just so many of them and the dulce de leche – mmmm so good yet so bad for you! It probably hasn’t changed much. I get the feeling that Argentina is slow to move on many things and adapt, and change. That’s why Brazil has rocketed past them in the last few years economically.

  • NatalieSisson

    @Lindsay Oh Lindsay that’s such a great story but also so odd. I mean the buses cost so little! What’s it to them. The alfajores are definitely a must try – there’s just so many of them and the dulce de leche – mmmm so good yet so bad for you! It probably hasn’t changed much. I get the feeling that Argentina is slow to move on many things and adapt, and change. That’s why Brazil has rocketed past them in the last few years economically.

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