Are you a career traveler for life? Or perhaps for the time being? If so, you’ve probably already developed a ton of hacks to maintain as much normalcy during a life of travel as possible. But in case you could use some more, check out this latest installment of our Up In the Air! We’re sharing the best practices to follow to maintain a fulfilled life on the road – or in the air.
Best Practices for the Career Traveler
That first trip as a working man or woman on the go is always exciting. But by the fourth (or 50th) trip, the novelty wears off and life becomes a blur of airports and hotel rooms that all start to look exactly the same.
That’s why it’s so important to develop best practices for your travel routine, just like you develop best practices in the office. These habits can keep you sane, happy, and healthy in a life that can be fast-paced and unpredictable. Here are a few to-dos to help you approach your travel in as organized manner as you approach your goals at work.
If sprinting from the security line at the airport to the gate is what you consider to be your weekly workout, then a life of travel is going to take a toll on you – and fast. All people need to stay fit for their mental and physical health, but this becomes even more crucial when you’re regularly flying, dining with room service, and working around the clock.
As hard as it is to stay fit in the midst of constant work and travel, it’s too important to put off. Find a workout you enjoy (one that exercises your muscles and helps you relieve stress) and one that can be done in a hotel room so there will be no excuses. My personal favorite is yoga because it helps me feel strong and peaceful, it’s a great workout, and it can be done anywhere. I even have an app on my phone that takes me through a yoga class – so I really have no excuses for skipping it!
What about you? You could try at home crossfit exercises, you could explore the outdoors around you anywhere with a run or bike ride, and more. Try a few different workouts until you find one you like (I love yoga, I hate going to the gym) and will want to stick to. Then put it in your calendar just like you would a meeting to give yourself the accountability you’ll need on a particularly tiring trip.
Try that same routine with your eating habits. Find the types of foods that help you feel healthy and energized and seek out all the ways you can get them in airports, hotels, and conference rooms. Once you have a go-to menu in mind, it will be a lot easier to find those types of foods no matter where you are. But if you have to make a last minute decision between salad or muffin without having previously committed yourself to a travel menu, there’s a good chance that muffin’s going to win.
The main thing to think about when trying to stay fit and healthy on the road is to apply the same habits that keep you diligent at work to your health and fitness. If there’s a routine that gets you through even the most challenging or mundane tasks at work, then you can be sure it’ll do the same for you outside of work.
Speaking of routines and organization, remember to apply those same principles to your expenses as well. Between snacks at the airport, emergency toiletries purchased at the hotel, coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks, and room service, you’re probably acquiring a lot of receipts. And I’m willing to bet that compiling them for your month-end expense report is not on your list of favorite tasks…
To keep it simple (and to avoid getting buried under a pile of receipts), develop an expensing routine that you can automate. There are a lot of great tools to help, such as Abacus, Expensify, and NexTravel. Talk to your manager about integrating with these tools to make the whole process easier on everyone – or, if you’re the manager, give them a try and find the one that works best for your team.
While you’re at it, don’t forget that you shouldn’t abuse the expense system at your company. Be aware of your reimbursement schedule so you can get receipts in on time and not badger your human resources department for payment. And don’t purchase extravagant items just because it’s on your company’s dime. Keep in mind that you should only do what’s good for your company and what’s good for your team – and things like bottle service or an upgraded room shouldn’t make that list.
While we’re on the topic of doing what’s good for your company and your team, remember to be considerate of your co-workers, who may also be your co-travelers.
Being considerate means showing up on time (not five minutes before the plane doors close), being respectful of your co-worker’s need for personal space even while on the plane, and maintaining professionalism from the time you get through security to when you’re sitting in the board room. The unfortunate truth about a life of work and travel means you’re “on” more than you’re “off” – so wearing PJs on the plane may not be as acceptable as it would be on a personal trip.
And finally, make sure to never, ever do these 10 things when you fly.
Creating a healthy work/life balance is difficult for nearly everyone these days, but this is an especially challenging prospect for the person who travels often for work. It’s not like you can dive into your couch whenever you feel like it at the end of a long day!
With that said, it’s important to prioritize your happiness as highly as your career priorities. Find a way to create a home routine no matter where you are, develop a relationship with the local businesses if you travel to certain locations more than once, and carve out some personal time no matter how busy your schedule.
While you may be thinking all of this is a lot easier said than done, spending even 30 minutes to an hour per day on time just for you can be enough to rejuvenate you for the next day ahead. Burnout is a cumulative thing – so taking small pockets of time out to care for yourself can help deter the onslaught of burnout and fatigue.
Remember: a small amount of time dedicated to yourself each day can help you sustainably maintain your peak level of productivity…while powering through for weeks can leave you unfunctional for days later. Which would you prefer?
We Want to Hear from You
Now that we’ve shared our advice, we want to hear from you. What are your best practices? Have you developed routines that work well for you, hacks that save you time, or habits that keep you sane? We want to hear them!
Tell us about your best practices in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re looking for feedback from the best so, if you’ve got it, we may even feature your story in an Up In the Air post in the future!