Business traveling is lonely, tiring and often not the healthiest. How can road warriors maintain their health and sanity?
An estimated 482.4 million business trips occurred in 2014. How many of those were yours?
Chances are, a lot of them. Or they were trips taken by your colleagues and friends. Nothing gets people talking like complaining about the perils of business travel, but since it’s a necessary evil for many, they can also be full of suggestions and genius tips that have worked for them. Here are some recently crowd-sourced tips from true road warriors on how to minimize the pain of business travel, and maximize the results.
Luggage and Packing
Invest in a sturdy carry-on with spinning wheels for ease of use. Make sure it’s the right size to fit in an airplane’s overhead bin, and tote another bag small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Limit your luggage to these carry-on’s by packing smarter, not just fewer things. Pack travel-friendly clothing pieces that you can swap out to keep outfits fresh.
Many frequent business travelers keep a duplicate set of toiletries on hand just for trips. Throw the small case in your carry-on, easily removed during security checks, and off you go. Better yet, keep a whole bag packed with clothes, shoes and all.
Even better yet, have a service just pack your bag for you—a new company called Dufl will do just that, and have it ready at your destination when you check in to your hotel.
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On the Plane, Train or Automobile
The process of traveling can be uncomfortable, full of unknowns and trying on your patience. Controlling what you can in the experience will help you deal with the unforseen factors, and keep you happy and comfortable in the process.
To get through security more quickly, invest in a Global Entry or TSA Pre-check pass. These special passes for international domestic travel come with a fee and an interview, but they make getting through long lines easier.
During long days of travel and transfers, bring a power strip if you’re working on the road and need to recharge your devices. It’s easier to offer to share a strip than to ask a fellow passenger to give up his coveted wall outlet.
Invest in inflight WiFi to stay connected during business hours, or consider splitting the fee for a WiFi network like GoGo Inflight ($60/month) among friends if you don’t travel at the same times.
Prepare to Hydrate
For comfort and health, stay hydrated. Skip the $5 water bottles at the airport and bring your own empty reusable container that you fill once you’re through security. Pack your own healthy snacks and resist temptation to indulge in heavy foods just because you’re on the road.
Get Your Shut Eye
Sleep at normal hours. On red-eyes or international flights, reduce the impact of jet lag by bringing along products that make you comfortable. The J-Pillow is a new travel aid that helps keep your head and neck secure while you’re sleeping sitting up. I always bring along a lumbar support pillow with a strap that I can loop over my carry-on’s handle when I’m in transit. Many travelers suggest noise-canceling headphones both to drown out the sounds of other passengers and to signal “please don’t talk to me” without being rude.
If you find yourself stuck in an airport for long time, seek out your airline’s club lounge. Depending on your frequent flier status, you can either pay for or use your elite status for access to the lounge, which can offer a hot shower, a place to nap and gourmet food and beverages. For the rest of us, many airports have massage stations, yoga lounges or mini-spas that can help make the hours go by more pleasantly.
Related Article: How Airlines Benefit From Constant Connectivity
During Your Stay
When you are actually in the new city and slogging through a busy schedule, be honest with yourself about your physical and mental limits. If this business trip was necessary, that means you are vital to the success of what happens during this time. It’s important for you to be in top condition, so pay attention to the amount of rest and exercise you’re getting.
You probably won’t have the time or resources to keep up your normal routine, but you can modify it when you’re on the road. Here is a mountain climber’s mini-workout that can be done anywhere. At the very least, take advantage of a hotel with a gym, or a nearby park or walking path.
Research the restaurants and shops near your hotel before you get there. If everything shuts down early, you don’t want to be stuck eating a meal made of items from a vending machine. Ask for menus from local restaurants that deliver. Or if you have a car during your trip, head to a local grocery store and stock up on healthy items you can keep in your room.
Make It Your Own
Make an impersonal hotel room more livable by unpacking your luggage if you’ll be on site longer than two nights. Put away the brochures and local ads. Pack a travel candle and matches to make the room or suite smell nice.
Take Time for You
Build some down time into your schedule so you can relax and be present for each event. If you’re at a conference, consider staying at a different hotel so that you don’t bump into someone you know every time you leave your hotel room. A few minutes of solitude during the walk from where you’re staying to the location of the event will give you time to think and focus on what’s ahead.
That said, don’t hole up in your hotel room at every possible opportunity. Use this valuable face time with local colleagues and potential clients to make a human connection. After all, there’s a reason you didn’t just do this project with a web meeting.
Related Article: 9 Daily Habits of Exceptional Entrepreneurs
Make It Work For You
Frequent business travel can be grueling, but sometimes there are benefits for more than your work. If you travel to the same place often, open yourself up to making friends. Explore the local surroundings, cuisine and landmarks. Get caught up on your reading or writing, or finally organize those thousands of digital photos you’ve got scattered all over your hard drive.
Better yet, make sure you are signed up with the rewards programs for every airline, car rental company and hotel brand that you use. Even if you’re traveling on the company’s dime, you can rack up points and miles that you’ll be able to use for personal travel. And if you travel enough in a calendar year, your elite status with these programs will get you flight class upgrades, better hotel rooms and perks like free meals, WiFi or gym access.