Travel Tech Q&A: Thunderhead.com's Nick Smith

Travel Tech Q&A: Thunderhead.com's Nick Smith

Summary: Thunderhead.com's head of Asia-Pacific shares a few of his travel tips and stories.

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TOPICS: Travel Tech
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In this week's ZDNet Travel Tech Q&A, we speak to Thunderhead.com's head of Asia-Pacfic, Nick Smith, about what gadgets he packs with him on trips abroad, the importance of a positive mindset when trying to beat jetlag, and his epic journey from Zimbabwe to Malawi in 1995.

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Thunderhead.com's Nick Smith. (Image: Thunderhead.com)

What tech do you travel with and why?

I travel as light as possible, and leverage cloud services for access to my desktop both at home and in the office. I travel with an iPad, mobile phone, headphones with microphone for Skype, noise-cancelling headphones for the plane, and an external drive loaded with movies and TV shows that I plug into on the plane or through the hotel television when local content is not so good.

Personal travel advice or tip?

Relax. Breathe. Enjoy. Getting stressed changes nothing.

How do you deal with jet lag?

The best advice I ever received around jet lag was from a mentor of mine who flew from Sydney to New York twice a month and her advice was categoric.

She said, "jet lag is a state of mind." Her advice was simple: It is going to happen, you will have broken sleep, so attack jet lag with a positive mindset.

For me, on long-haul flights, this means getting into the destination time zone as I board, exercising immediately on arrival, and an acceptance that email or bad movies are your friend at 4am for a couple of days. The odd glass of red to help sleep at the hotel also has its benefits.

What was your biggest travel disaster?

In 1995, I was on a bus trip from Zimbabwe to Malawi through the Tete Corridor in Mozambique, and our bus blew a tyre and had no spare. We were fortunate to be able to hitch a lift on the back of a ute with about 12 other people all sitting on top of our rucksacks and each other.

After four hours hanging onto the back of the ute, we arrived at the Malawi border and were told it had closed for the night, so we slept outside on the floor.

The delay meant we arrived in Blantyre, Malawi, a day late on a public holiday with no local currency and nowhere to buy anything even if we had money. That was a hungry couple of days.

Is there one thing you must do before you leave home?

Tell my family I love them and give them a big hug. And, for my girls, negotiate on a present.

What is your dream travel tech to have on planes/in airports/at hotels?

An integrated service that works across hotels, car hire, passport control, and check in, etc.

Each of these channels do really well at speeding the journey if you are at the top tier of their loyalty programs, but I'd love a card or app that enabled you, regardless of status, to be pre-verified and checked, and simply wander through each of these channels without the need to stop and to have your seat, car, and room number sent to you as you arrived so you can simply bypass the queues.

Which airport would you prefer to be stranded at and why?

Hong Kong is probably the easiest place to get stranded at. You can dump your bags at the airport check-in and then go exploring.

You can then monitor your flight via the HK departures website, and, since the train link to the airport is so fast and reliable, you can then jump the train to the airport when you need to. I've had a couple of exceptional Friday nights in Hong Kong where we have been delayed by typhoons.

Topic: Travel Tech

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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  • My must have item

    Good tips, when you find that all inclusive vip service let us know, the world will be a better place. I want to add something that was a life saver on my last trip to Rome and has become a "must have" for me. I lost my passport during the day and had no idea it was missing. Fortunately, I had a tracer tag on my it. A waiter where I ate lunch found it and entered my tracker number on their website. I was automatically sent a text message (and an email) with a pickup location before I ever even knew my passport was missing. Lucky for me, I was leaving in the morning for Germany and getting a new passport would have been impossible. Tags are available through mystufflostandfound.com That tag saved my trip from total disaster and I put them on my phone, laptop and almost everything that travels with me now.
    Mike Hirn