Business travel is hard. It’s gotten worse over the years, so anything that can help you get through the process in a better state of mind is worth considering. This is what I’ve come away with after years of travel that may help you.
1 – Health first
Traveling when you’re healthy can be enjoyable. Traveling when you’re sick can be a nightmare. You need to prioritize your personal health over that of your business. Yes, it is hard sometimes, but you won’t be at your best if you are ill, you’ll be worse after you arrive, and most business can be postponed. Rescheduling is inconvenient, but your health must come first.
Before traveling, rest. Get extra sleep. Go outside and get some fresh air. Flying is stressful and it will wear you down. You need to build up your energy reserves prior to traveling.
Eat before long flights. Eat wisely. Don’t overeat. Definitely, don’t overdo any alcohol. Drink lots of water before and during any flights. The air in airplanes is typically dry and cold and dries you out. If you’re dehydrated you won’t be at your best, and in the worst case, you may develop kidney stones.
No one likes traveling next to a sick person.
2 – Travel light
This is probably the most important tip to making traveling enjoyable. Packing light not only makes you move through airports faster, it also helps you conserve energy. You don’t want to be standing in luggage check-in lines or dragging 3 suitcases miles across a large airport. Once you arrive at your destination, you don’t want to stand by a carousel hoping your luggage shows up.
Pack only what you know you need, not what you think you will need. Take clean, comfortable clothes that are appropriate in all situations. Unless you are going to a formal function, you don’t need clothes specific to the event, or time of day, or enough clothes for a week when you’re only going for a weekend. Clothes can be washed or dry-cleaned at your destination.
Packing light applies to shoes as well. Have one pair of comfortable, appropriate shoes. Shoes weigh a lot in your luggage/carry-on.
If you do need or want more, you should ship what you need, not check it in. Shipping is usually easier, and may be cheaper. Another alternative to consider is to purchase what you need at your destination, and then just ship it home.
The less you have to carry with you, the better the travel experience will be.
3 – Sit fast / Stand slow
If you’re traveling on a plane or even a train, this tip will help you maintain your sanity. Before you set foot on the plane, pack anything you’ve taken out in the lounge while you were waiting, and take out anything you will need on the plane. Take any coats off before you board. Don’t do this once you’re on the plane. You’ll slow up the boarding process and may raise the ire of your fellow passengers or crew. You should board, stow your gear, and sit as quickly as possible. Also, do not block the aisles longer than necessary.
Conversely, unless you are late or have an emergency, don’t try to be the first person off the plane. Everyone else is trying to be the first off as well, and your addition will only slow the overall process down and increase your stress levels.
Sit fast, relax. Relax and stand to exit when you can.
4 – Rest, not work
During your flight, why are you working? Is it because you have to or want to? I always see people trying to get some work done on a flight. Trying to catch up on work on a plane is probably a bad idea. It’s noisy, it’s crowded, it’s bumpy. Your concentration will be off, and whatever you produce probably won’t be the best.
During the trip, you should try to relax and rest. The couple of hours you lose flying can be made up after you arrive at the hotel, and you may be surprised at how much better you feel and the quality of your work that results.
5 – Relax, be considerate
Traveling is stressful at various levels. Don’t get caught up in the rush mentality of a lot of travelers. Try to relax, take your time, and try not to get upset or frustrated at your fellow travelers.
Be considerate of others. People are often so involved in their own frustration and difficulties, they fail to realize that their reaction affects the frustration of others which just exacerbates the problem. “Pay it forward” works with both the bad as well as the good. Pay forward the good.
Business travel may never be fun, but at least you can make it less of a chore.