Business Travel: It’s definitely on my mind as I head out to Los Angeles for work today! JetSetting for work is not always the easiest. It’s wonderful to see new places and sometimes have a few extra minutes to take in a restaurant or tourist sight. Other factors, however, are less pleasant. Disrupted eating, exercising, puppy-hugging and all other changes to your routine can be a bit frustrating. But, since at times, it must be done, here are some tactics I employ to ease the burden.
1. Plan ahead. Generally having a lack of control over various elements of your life can cause stress. Travel highlights a lot of these stressors for various reasons. Below are some of the big ones for me and suggestions about how to handle:
Often, traveling for work means eating habits fall by the wayside. There are a few things that can be done to mitigate this. One method I employ (especially for shorter trips) is making sure I am armed with plenty of healthy snacks. Kind Bars, trail mix, fruit (or freeze dried fruit, like Funky Monkey Snacks). If you plan to workout and know you’ll want a protein shake on the road, put some powder in a plastic baggy and pack a mixing tool, like the Blender Bottle or my friend Tony’s recent invention, the EasyGo Dispenser. If you’re going to be out of town a bit longer (three days or more), you can research ahead of time to find local grocery stores. That way, you don’t have to eat out all the time, and your regular meal schedule can remain intact. If your jaunt is more brief, try to find out which restaurants you’ll be frequenting OR even better, try to suggest ones to the group that have healthy options. Nowadays, you can track down nutritional content for pretty much any restaurant and decide what menu item you will stick to ahead of time.
Other elements of planning ahead for me include making a comprehensive packing list to ensure I forget nothing – I use a great tool called TaDa Lists to ease the pain of packing. You can add or check off on the go and re-use lists if you head on the “same” trip every month, year, etc.
I also try to chug a TON of water in the couple of days before leaving, and limit my alcohol/caffeine intake (sub in tea for coffee, which will still give you SOME caffeine power!) This is especially important for long flights. If you wait until you get to the airport to start the hydration process, it’s too late. AND you’ll be getting up to pee on the plane every five minutes, which will not make you (or your seatmate) happy.
2. Take your workouts with you. Luckily, a lot of the hotels we stay in on the road have pretty state of the art gym facilities. If for some reason that isn’t the case, (which you can find out by looking at the hotel’s website) you can take your workout on the road with you! One way I do that is by slipping a workout DVD (one that requires no extra equipment, like a yoga mat or hand weights) into my suitcase! Kickboxing is a good option, and the DVD player on my laptop serves as a portable trainer. Alternatively, you could use podcasts in iTunes on your iPad – Acacia offers a great variety of on-the-go options. You can ALSO do your own circuit workout that uses nothing but yourself! Peanut Butter Fingers actually just posted a great example of such a workout here. The hardest part (for me) is finding the time to do this while on the road, but generally speaking, everyone could wake up at least 25 minutes earlier while traveling to do something. In my opinion, even a quick workout is better than opting out all together. I usually add it to my calendar, like I would at home so that I feel more obligated to go through with it. Otherwise, it’s too easy to let excuses get in the way. One bonus about working out in new places is that sometimes it re-ENERGIZES you! I’ve worked out in beeeeeeautiful facilities in Miami and NYC that overlook the ocean and Times Square. A change of scenery is generally invigorating, even if it initially seems disruptive.
3. Make a list of the positives. Whether this list is work-related or purely simple pleasures, there are always upsides to traveling. On the business-side, I always try to create some sort of mission statement for the time I’ll spend on the road. No one likes to feel as though their time is being wasted, but if you have determined what the goal and mission of your trip are (and perhaps even gone so far as to write it down), you can bring it to the top of your mind any time you are annoyed along your journey. It will keep you focused, goal-oriented and chipper about the contribution you are making to your company, career, the world at large, etc. If you can come up with different objectives for various days/meetings/events, that’s even better! Goals are always better when they are more specific.
On the more superfluous side of things, focus on the lighter side of traveling! For instance, I usually treat myself to little indulgences when I know I will travel for work. It might be a new book on my Kindle/iPad (this time, I’ve chosen the first two books of The Hunger Games – I only had the first downloaded and someone told me it would be a mistake to not have the second installment handy in case I finished the first). OR I generally download some episodes of a television show (New Girl is my current fave) and a rented movie on my iPad (this time, it’s His Girl Friday and Some Like It Hot). I’m also getting a manicure, something I don’t generally indulge in, but a treat that will take one more worry off my plate so I can focus on work. Pick something you like, and just go for it! It’s all in the name of easing the pain.
4. Embrace the power of technology. Though it’s true that you can’t do anything about missing your family while you’re on the road, you can soften the blow with things like texting when you have a free moment, emails when your’e on different schedules, and SKYPE! Video chatting is one of the best inventions because it allows people away from home to ALMOST feel like they’re in the same room. Sometimes Dan and I will even watch a tv show together if schedules allow while we are traveling. Just gives a sense of normalcy when you need it most.
5. Last but not least, don’t worry about things that are out of your control. This is a really difficult one, and certainly a mantra I need to think about and work on EVERY time I travel. But – if the plane’s delayed, if your meeting gets changed, if you forgot your hairbrush – just do what you can, and don’t stress about the uncontrollables. You’ll be a lot happier if you follow that rule!