If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve not been home much since June (I’m currently writing this post on a flight home from Atlanta). We have a fabulous client that’s been sending me all over the U.S. for a variety of very cool initiatives. I genuinely love traveling for business. In addition to seeing new sights and cities around the country, I’ve gotten to cross off a few bucket-list items (I drove from Seattle to Long Beach, CA, hiked in Sequoia National Park, saw orca in the wild, and went to the absolutely stunning Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque).
But one of the most difficult parts of being on the road can be staying healthy. After five months of almost-non-stop travel, I’ve got a few tips for remaining physically, mentally and emotionally healthy:
1. Make time for a workout. I work out regularly at home, so when I’m away, it’s important to keep up with my schedule. My goal is always to find a great hiking spot in a new area. Account Supervisor Meg and Account Executive Johnny always try to visit a CrossFit gym. Whatever you do at home, try to find a way to integrate it into your trip. Of course, sometimes my schedule doesn’t permit a full workout, but at least I make sure to rack up the steps on the Fitbit.
2. Hand sanitizer is your BFF. I’m not even close to being germophobic and I normally have strong feelings on the overuse of sanitizers, but when you’re on a plane with recycled air and hundreds of people touching everything, they can be useful to help you avoid colds. I like EO handwipes because I don’t need to fit them in my already-too-full liquid carry-on bag (and, bonus, they smell amazing).
3. Jet lag is a drag. Jet lag can bring down even the most-seasoned traveler. But, there’s a pretty simple way to avoid it: Immediately upon getting on the plane, force yourself into the schedule of your new time zone. For example, if you’re traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast on an evening flight (my flight of choice), force yourself to stay awake until you arrive. When you get there, it’ll be bed time and you’ll be so exhausted, you’ll fall asleep as soon as you get to your hotel. This tactic has never failed me (and I used to travel to the West Coast once a month for six years); I’m always ready to start the next day refreshed.
4. Take a few minutes to breathe each day. I know this may sound silly, but when you’re in and out of meetings, it’s easy to forget that you should take time to refocus your mental energy. I like to take a break in the middle of the day for five minutes (everyone gets bathroom breaks, right?), walk outside and breathe in the fresh air … or go inside to warm up, as the case may be.
5. See the sights. At my former agency, I realized after 10 trips to Los Angeles that I’d never seen anything there – not even the ocean. How does that happen? I was going from the hotel to my client’s office and back again. I realized this kind of traveling was unacceptable – how can I travel all over the U.S. and not take in the local flavor? So now, I build in time to see the city I’m visiting. Sometimes it’s an extra day, sometimes it’s a few hours before a late flight, but I always find something to do there. My favorite was in Eastern Oregon – no one could even tell me what there was to see. It turns out, the Oregon Trail is right there. (Also, I may be the only person to go on the Oregon Trail and not get dysentery and die).
6. Have a really long, really good playlist. I have a travel playlist with 47 hours of songs. This keeps me in a good mood on the plane, in the rental cars and sometimes in the hotel if there’s nothing good on TV.
7. Eat healthy (most of the time). I’m a pretty healthy eater regularly, so I try to do the same on the road. Obviously, I’ll go out to eat and indulge a bit ( La Salita in Albuquerque – best chili relleno I’ve ever eaten), but for the most part, I stick to healthy foods. I bring protein bars and, if necessary, I’ll stop at a grocery store to pick up some food so I’m not constantly searching for a healthy restaurant. Airports have started to offer better choices. Every airport website will have a food map. I like to scout it out beforehand, so I know where to go for the best food.
8. Stay connected. If you’re traveling a lot, it can be hard to get time in with your family and friends for the brief time you’re home. This is where technology is the best. I try to talk to someone at least once a day – whether it’s calling my mom or sister to tell them something funny I saw, or chatting with a friend about the craziness of the day. It makes me feel like I’m not too far away, even if I haven’t seen them for a while.
We’re so conditioned to think about our clients’ needs when we travel for work, that it’s easy to forget our own. If we can take time to remember that we’re the most important person to ourselves, business travel can be fun and interesting. Off to the next city – healthy and ready!