Traveling for work often introduces an added element of stress that leads many event and meeting professionals to dread airports and rental car agencies. There’s the hassle of packing for planned outings as well as the unknown, concern for making a positive impression in unfamiliar surroundings and maintaining personal care. These hassles lead many to shy away from travel assignments and increased expectations, which can stall careers from growth.
While professional travel may seem daunting, there are several ways to make it more manageable and increase your own comfort in new situations.
The first step to managing stress while traveling is to plan for the unexpected. Know how much time to allow yourself, whether it means scheduling an earlier flight or adding an extra hour to your drive time. Giving yourself a buffer will alleviate the panic that comes from flight delays or road construction, and can give you extra time to relax if it’s needed.
Know Your Habits
Taking your habits on the road is an easy way to make yourself feel comfortable in unfamiliar situations. Do you workout in the mornings? Enjoy an evening walk? Sleep with an eye mask or a sound machine? Knowing what your routine is and sticking to it – or as close as you can to it – wherever you are will help you rest better and normalize new surroundings, making you both look and feel at ease.
Packing for vacation and packing for business are two very different things. When packing for a business trip, follow the itinerary you are given and plan outfits accordingly. Knowing what you will wear each day allows you to focus on the purpose of your trip, instead of worrying about whether you should change for dinner or not. Packing outfits you feel comfortable and confident in will also give you an additional sense of security. Include a versatile leisure outfit, but leave the four different “what if we go to…” outfits at home. We’ve known many planners who swear that their success in travel lies in creating a spreadsheet packing list for every trip!
Above all, the most important thing to remember when traveling for work is that it’s important to enjoy yourself. Business trips are often packed with meetings and scheduled meals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take time to experience a new city, even if it is minimally. Try to find a local restaurant for any meals on your own, or research local attractions to visit should you have extra time in your schedule. Travel does not have to be all stress and no rest. Make some time for yourself and enjoy your trip out of the office!