Traveling for work is perhaps one of the most tedious, thankless aspects of any job. People who don’t do it often tend to view it as an exciting perk—like a vacation from day-to-day work life. Those who do it frequently know different.
Modern-day travel can take a serious toll on your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Flight delays, lost luggage, forgotten items and junk food all contribute to the stress and strain of the situation.
To make matters worse, when you’re away from the office, you feel disconnected and usually, your schedule is packed to the brim. Arriving back to your desk, you realize your to-do list has continued to grow in your absence.
It’s enough to drive a sane person to the edge of insanity.
Don’t head for the psych ward just yet! Here are some strategies to help you road warriors stay productive (and relatively at peace) while traveling for business.
Use Systems to Create Peace of Mind
The stress of travel starts before you even leave home. There’s so much to think about—packing, getting to the airport on time, arranging for family needs while you’re away. All too often, you’re rushing to get it all done, and in the chaos, things get forgotten, which only adds more stress!
Create systems and routines for yourself to simplify things and ensure you remember all the important details. A travel checklist, for example, will help make sure you pack your prescriptions, phone charger, and other items you may tend to leave behind. Always parking in the same place at the airport will help make it easy to find your car, even when you’ve landed past midnight and are half-asleep.
If you’re worried about the family, stock up on frozen meals. If you’re worried about getting through security quickly, sign up for TSA pre-check. Don’t let the worries fester without creating a plan for minimizing them. A few consistent pre-travel practices can ease the strain dramatically.
You can use all this work-time on the road to your personal benefit by taking advantage of frequent flier miles with your favorite airlines and loyalty membership programs at hotels. While the company may pay for your travel, you get the perks. Play your cards right and you may eventually be able to take your whole family on a free (or very discounted) vacation!
Don’t Spend Every Minute Working
It’s easy to get totally absorbed in work while on the road. Whether you’re visiting clients, touring off-site facilities, or attending conferences, the day-to-day business is likely intense. In the evenings, you may also have work obligations like networking dinners and cocktail hours. But don’t allow yourself to be booked solid with such activities.
Take some time on your own to simply enjoy the different environment. Read a good book beside the pool at the hotel, take a walk or just watch a movie on-demand. Do something you never get to do while at home. Even a small “treat” can feel decadent and make travel a much more enjoyable experience.
Also read: What to Do When You’re Overwhelmed at Work
Keep in Contact with Your Team
That disconnected feeling can be alieved by making it a priority to check in frequently with your team. Pick up the phone and call them or jump on Skype for a quick face-to-face chat. This will help you stay up-to-date with activities you’re missing, so when you return, you’re not stuck playing catch up.
Maintain Your Healthy Routines
For many people, travel is an easy excuse to get lazy with regards to health. Airport food and dining out can tempt even the most rigorous health nut and few people head for the gym immediately after a long day of travel.
However, if you’re spending a great deal of time on the road, you could end up suffering backlash from this kind of indulgence. Find ways to work your regular healthy routines into your day-to-day life on the road. Make smart eating choices and bring healthy snacks for the plane and your hotel room. When possible, check out the hotel gym and get some endorphins kicking with a little cardio, weight lifting or stretching.
You don’t need to be over-zealous, but remain committed to your health goals. Contrary to popular belief, calories while traveling do count.
With the help of these tips, your days on the road will be more manageable. Work travel may never be a truly gratifying experience, but it doesn’t have to be painful.