This may sound ironic but a travel nut like me finds business travel stressful.
Early in my career as a journalist, I thought that traveling for work was a means to score free trips. I always wanted to travel but since I could barely survive with my tiny paycheck back then, I was always trying to angle for out of town coverages that will fly me out of Manila. It was fun – at first. I adored the fact that I can sleep and dine in posh hotels for free.
But after years of reporting and writing so many stories with a very tight deadlines; of forcing myself to socialize with people who I personally hate but can’t do so because they’re footing the bill; of just cramming everything in my suitcase before dashing off to the next destination – I ended up tired and disoriented.
Still, I know that like most of you who have thriving careers or busy building a business, traveling for work will always be part of my life. So instead of avoiding it, I decided to do several things that will reduce the stress brought by business travel.
1. Always keep a packed suitcase
I put all the essentials in my travel backpack – this includes my passport, some money, a white t-shirt and pair of pants, toiletries, adaptor and my travel journal – and keep it at the corner of my bedroom. This way, I can save time packing, keep my things organized and I’m always ready to go.
2. Spend at least a day planning your itinerary
I list down all the things that I need to accomplish during my business trip, including my daily MITs (most important things to do) and contact numbers/e-mails of people I have to meet. I’m very low tech and I just use my planner (or a pocket calendar and notebook dedicated solely for this event ) to plan my schedule. That way I will know what to prioritize after I land in my destination.
3. Avoid red eye flights
I need my eight hours of sleep to be productive and pleasant. So as much as possible, I don’t travel at night because I can’t sleep on the plane.
4. Get in, get out fast
One of main causes of business travel stress is the enduring the long queues in the airport. So in order to get in and out to and from the airport, I always check in online and try as much as possible to travel light so that I can had carry everything and skip the long wait at the arrival [ not to mention the stress of dealing with delayed or lost luggage].
5. Stick to a routine
Traveling disrupts my body clock and disorients me. So wherever I go, I always do my daily routine to keep me grounded and focused.
To this end, I seldom veer away from my daily sleeping and eating schedule. I meditate, exercise and write in my journal every day, wherever I am, day or night. I read, write and reply to my e-mails in my hotel or in the coffee shop to preserve the notion that this is just another working day for me …albeit on a different place.
6. Reserve a time for exploration and fun
I always squeeze in at least one to two hours to walk around the city, shop, go to a museum or join a city tour. And if I have friends living there, I make it a point to meet up with them and even ask for recommendations.
I will do anything that will allow me to have time for myself and know more about the city I’m visiting.
After all, whether it’s for leisure or business, traveling involves discovering new and exciting places, people and way of life – and not even a busy schedule will keep me from enjoying my travels.