A few weeks ago I posed the question of whether frequent business travel is glamorous or gloomy? Business travel can be a real drag. My kids don’t like it when I’m gone (wife doesn’t either). Planes are more cramped than they used to be. Some hotels are great. More often than it should be though, there are cranky thermostats, cranky employees, middle seats with that passenger you don’t want to sit next to on both sides. And, delays. Weather, mechanical, you name it.
But, this isn’t a sob-story post. My wife has heard me complain plenty of times, but here are the things I do to make the rigors of business travel just a bit more tolerable:
Combine Business and Pleasure
When traveling for business, consider adding on a day to explore the local area. Or, squeeze in a half day if you can’t afford to extend your stay. But, collecting miles and points can make it easier to tack on that extra day. There’s so much to see everywhere we travel, and there’s plenty of excuses to miss those sights along the way. I’ve been traveling to Denver regularly for 7 years now and I still haven’t made a stop at the Mint, even though it’s been on my list the entire time. Don’t miss that opportunity!
Combine Family and Business
I wish I had done more of this when my kids were younger. If you have to be gone for travel, consider bringing the family with you. Recently, I had to be in Southern California for a meeting. I brought the family along for the tail end of the trip and we snuck in 3 days at Disneyland. My suggestion here is to do this on the tail end of a trip. That will ensure you’re not distracted from work and your family isn’t bored.
Early Flights/Late Flights
When I’m traveling for business I go hard. Some might not choose that path, but I shoot for very early and very late flights to bookend my trip so I can try to get home sooner. 6am flights aren’t great. Neither are late departures. Early flights, while painful, can be easier to score upgrades on if that’s your thing. Bottom line, I want to get home as quickly as I can and I use the plane schedules to help me do it. Sounds simple, but if that extra hour of two of sleep for the 8am departure keeps you from getting home on that late flight, it might be time to get up a bit earlier. Which leads to….
I’m lucky enough to be able to sleep on planes. They spin up the engines and I nod off. Those short naps can really refresh you. And, they can sometimes mess up your body clock. But, IMO, that’s a small price to pay for being fresh in your meetings/work. That 30 minutes of sleep is valuable battery recharging for long days away from home.
I have my wife to blame for this one. I have a love/hate relationship with exercise, especially when I’m traveling. I’d love the extra hour of sleep, but I also know that to get through a really long day, I need energy. I’m not a big fan of coffee or soda to drive the caffeine rush, but a workout to start the day really does make me more alert and give me more energy to get through long days.
Work with people you like
If you don’t work for yourself or run your own company, you might think this doesn’t apply to you. But, I can assure you if you don’t like the people you work with, traveling for meetings or work will be a lot harder. I’m lucky enough to be able to hire people I like to work with. Working with happy, motivated people makes the time away less like being on an island.
If you’re not happy where you work, it may be time to consider a job change.
Life on the road isn’t easy. If you have a family, it’s even harder. But, instead of staring at a half-full glass, a little planning can make it a lot more tolerable.