Updated: Apr 24, 2019
Do you regularly have to travel for business?
Does business travel throw you off your hard-developed routines and habits?
Do you constantly feel overwhelmed, stressed-out and exhausted during the trip as well as afterwards: juggling client meetings, emails, delayed flights and updating your team about all the learnings? Not only are we busy business people, but traveling can make it all just a tad more challenging.
When I was planning my first trip to go on business travel in my role at Google, my first manager (and yes, we do have a few of them in our career at one of the top companies in the world...maybe another topic I should write about soon :-)) gave me a wise recommendation that I will never forget, and that I have lived by ever since: if you travel for business, travel well.
Let's take a look at a few tips on how you can manage your stress when traveling for business:
1. Choose your travel times wisely
There is no right or wrong answer here, in my opinion. Just make sure it is comfortable for you, no matter if that means getting to your destination a day early to have time to get settled, or leave on a Monday morning to stay with your family and use your business days instead of your sacred weekends.
If you need to take that red-eye, make sure you take some time to relax before jumping into that first client or team meeting. Check-in to the hotel early, take a nap, or enjoy some relaxing minutes on your own reading, breathing, journaling...(remember: it doesn't have to be a lot to feel refreshed and recharged).
2. Be comfortable to say no to team dinners
Let's be clear, I mean the optional team events and gatherings, NOT the mandatory client formalities.
Traveling is tiring, and if on top of travel times, potential jet lag and "100" daily meetings you don't feel social anymore at the end of the day - that's OK!
3. Prioritize yourself
Remember: Whenever you say no to a happy hour or team event, you say YES to YOURSELF.
There is always the social pressure that makes us feel like we *SHOULD* be attending all the lunches, dinners and in-betweens; but guess what: if you don't feel energized, you won't be really a great peer to hang out with, either.
Taking care of others means taking care of yourself first!
Guess what, if you feel tired, you better do what you need to do. When you take care of yourself, do what you need to do (no matter if that is calling your family at home or taking a hot shower to relax), it will give you the energy back that you need for the next days, your flight home and the work that is waiting for you when get back.
4. Keep your routines
Yes, oh the routines! How quickly do we loose sight of our daily / weekly rituals while on business travel? No time, too tired, no gym nearby.
Don't forget, while being on a business trip, your stress levels are probably more elevated than usual and that's especially the time when you should be super strict with your routines. The reason for that is our elevated stress levels like cortisol and adrenaline that can leave us feel exhausted and fatigued. Continuing with our routines and making sure we get back into our rest-and-digest state (aka parasympathetic nervous system) is extremely important to ensure being healthy in the long-term.
5. The thing about alcohol
While that one glass of wine or beer might help you relax and unwind after a stressful day and even help you fall asleep easier, it is scientifically proven that when you drink alcohol before going to bed, your deep sleep patterns are disrupted. This is also the reason why you might feel more tired waking up the next day and dragging to work.
So why don't you resist the urge for that one glass and order a fun juice or mocktail instead?
You'll be grateful the next day that you did, I promise!
More about stress management on business travel
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