Whilst business travel might sound glamorous, the reality is that for the majority of professionals it’s one of the most stressful parts of their job. Booking.com research found that more than 90% of business travellers suffer from stress, and alongside other common anxieties that most travellers experience in one way or another (booking flights, accommodation, applying for visas, etc.), business travellers usually have to work with very short time periods. This means much less time to ground themselves in a new destination – and yet a relaxed and focused mind is essential to optimal productivity. With that in mind, here are 10 tips to help you make your next business trip more enjoyable:
- Delegate the details
The stress of travelling starts before you’ve even left home – booking tickets and hotels, co-ordinating an itinerary, working out budgets, considering different time zones, ordering currency… the list is endless. By delegating the planning stages to a trustworthy colleague or virtual assistant, you can continue to focus your attention on your work without accumulating unnecessary stress.
- Relax at the airport
Give yourself plenty of time to spare at the airport so that you can relax and enjoy the experience rather than rushing through the process. Use airport lounges, do some shopping, have a drink, book in for a massage – some airports even have sleeping pods and shower facilities so that you can rest and feel refreshed before or after a long flight.
- Give yourself some head space
It’s tempting to use travelling time to catch up on work and whilst this can be a good use of your time, try not to spend every second answering emails. Meditation is an excellent way to ground yourself and focus your mind. Some airlines, like British Airways, now have special relaxation channels to help you de-stress through mindfulness exercises, making the most of your journey.
- Stay active
It’s important to move around as much as you can, especially on a long-haul flight. Stretch your legs, do some simple exercises in your seat and when you arrive at your destination, find ways to incorporate movement into your schedule. Business trips often involve professionals being ferried from meeting to meeting in taxis, instead choose to walk.
- Reset your body clock on the aeroplane
Jet lag can increase stress and damage productivity when you’re travelling by making you feel exhausted and confused. To minimise the effects, start adjusting your body clock on the plane by setting your watch to the time of your final destination. People often make the mistake of mentally converting back to “home time” in their heads and whilst you might need to know what’s going on back in the office, allow yourself to adopt the new time as quickly as possible so that you can relax and get a proper night’s sleep.
- Read about your destination
Even if you’re going on a very short trip, try to build a sense of excitement around travelling by reading up on your destination. What’s the history of the place? What’s the country or city famous for? Or, if you’ve visited before, are there any areas you haven’t been to, restaurants you haven’t tried. Ideally, schedule in some time for exploration.
- Ground yourself in your new environment
When you arrive in a new country, help your mind and body to feel more grounded by going for a stroll in the fresh air – or better yet, a jog through the city. Business travellers can often experience feelings of isolation which can also be unsettling, but instead of shutting yourself away in your hotel room to catch up on emails, try out social travel apps like DineHero. Dubbed as the “Tinder for professionals”, it allows you to join a meal with other professionals in the area.
- Eat well
A study by researchers at the University of Surrey and Linnaeus University in Sweden revealed that business travellers typically eat more unhealthily abroad than at home and tend to consume more alcohol. Avoid falling into that trap by travelling with healthy snacks and by researching healthy restaurant options before you leave so that when you’re hungry, you know exactly where to go.
- Develop a routine
Whilst travelling does dislodge you from your daily routine, it’s important to try and create a new rhythm in your temporary travel life. You might be able to keep some of the same structure as at home, such as a coffee first thing in the morning or going to the gym before work, which will help you to ground yourself. Any kind of routine will help you to feel more stabilised and reduce stress.
- Return to organisation
The prospect of returning to the office after a business trip can induce more stress as you panic over unanswered emails, expenses to file and general disorganisation. Working with a dedicated virtual assistant can help to reduce anxiety as they can make sure everything is well filed, labelled and scheduled for your return, whilst free to use apps like TravelBank keeps track of budgets and expenses by allowing users to scan and process receipts.
Millie Walton is a travel and arts journalist, and the Digital Editor of LUX Magazine. She was born in the English countryside, but spent much of her childhood in the mountains of Zimbabwe and considers Africa her second home. After 9 months travelling around Africa, India and South East Asia, she is currently based back in the UK while she works on her fiction writing.