27 Feb Business travel: coping strategies
When was your first time?
For me, I was 22. It was miserable, prolonged, full of things you just didn’t think of when dreaming about it as a youngster.
I am of course talking about travelling on business. I was so excited, looking forward to being whisked away, executive style.
My four-hour delay on the Eurostar was unpleasant enough, but the panic of being stuck in the one part of the journey that had no connection while frantically trying to get a few documents across to my colleagues really dialled up the tension.
On arrival, I was bombarded with hate mail from the office. All of them assuming I was having chilled champagne poured down my throat as I reclined on a Parisian socialite’s chaise lounge.
I worked late in a client’s office, being largely ignored by everyone, ate a McDonald’s (it’s better in London than in Paris) and caught a few hours’ sleep in a hotel room so small I was almost able to flush the toilet with my foot as I led on the bed.
Since that day, I’ve travelled a fair amount. So, I’ve come up with a few things to ensure that my time abroad is profitable for both the business and my soul.
Having just come back from a long trip to the US, I thought I’d share these musings:
- Book travel that maximises your time at home: Generally, I try and ensure that I’m on a plane that leaves at a time that doesn’t incur an extra day in a hotel and that I’m on the first trip back once the meetings end. You may think you want that extra day, but really, you don’t
- Run: It sounds odd, but if you’re even remotely able to knock out a mile at a faster pace than your usual waddle, then do so. Going for a jog in the morning in a new city is a good way to take in the sights and set the mind for the day
- Diarise company in advance: Ok not that type of company. If you’re staying for a few nights then it’s useful to get dinners, drinks etc. in people’s diaries in advance. Colleagues, clients, long lost friends, all worth getting in touch with ahead of a trip
- Get a daily dose of home: I try and plan in bedtime video calls with my little boy and, if time zones allow, a midday check-in. Take time out of a schedule to regroup with what’s important
- Stick to your routine: If there are things you do while at home as part of your daily routine then don’t give them up. If you swim every day, look for a place to stay with a pool. If you eat a certain diet, try and stick to it. If you travel often, you’ll start to resent trips that cut into your normal life and disturb your regime
The worst thing you can do is approach a business trip the same way as a holiday. It’s not and you will be bitterly disappointed. It’s part of your normal life and should be treated as so. That said, if you’re offered an upgrade, then go for it!
If it’s your first time and you get upgraded then take it from me, it’s all downhill from here.