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Lessons On The Fast Lane

Tuesday, 27 Jan 2009 | 11:16 AM ET

It is the tail end of this journalist's trek to WEF in Davos.

While the calls for spending restraint seem to be echoed by PR departments there was no shortage of cars meeting attendees at the Zurich airport to drive them to the mountain resort. Almost none, that I could tell, were schlepping their bags on the first part of a three-train journey.

I'm sure a few opted for the 30-minute helicopter ride ... and I have no knee-jerk opposition to that.

These are chief executives of international companies and elected officials. Maybe their time is worth a little more than journalists or others. Hopefully they have better things to do instead of sitting across from me on the train and watch my beer when I head to the bathroom.

For my part, the train journey does have something special besides scenery. It has a 'Heart of Darkness' quality, especially the last leg that snakes through the mountains like a river heading to a legendary place of wealth. (Who will be this year's Col. Kurtz?)

And it gives me time to reflect on what I learned from last year: The key is preparation.

Clothing: Last year (my first WEF) I thought I needed to dress for the big occasion. I pretty much froze.

This year my outfit includes Frye boots shipped direct from the US with steel toes that set off metal detectors before I walk through them, thermal underwear and socks, and a snowboard jacket.

In Davos the press badge makes the journalist, not the clothing.

This extends to hair and beard, which I've been growing to face the elements after last year's big grooming left my ears numb. I may look like Willie Nelson (especially with the boots) but I can stay warm on the 50 runs a day between the Congress Center, where almost everything takes place, and CNBC HQ.

Food: I have tried to pack as much home-cooked healthy food into my diet since for the next four days I will subsist entirely on pizza, water and beer.

Gadgets: My use of a digital recorder didn't help conversation and was shunned for all but the most formal interviews.

This year's gadget is a windproof lighter. Lots of the most influential people in the world smoke and they are more talkative if you are the only one who can light their last cigarette before they face a three-hour session on the return of Keynesian strategy.

Cigarette anyone?