Having spent many years on the road, I’m a seasoned traveller. I’ve always got a suitcase packed. As an international learning consultant and coach, I stay in hotels approximately 2-3 nights per week!
As I’ve gotten older, although I love adventure, the travelling has become a harder slog for me and if I’m not organised, it can be quite exhausting.
In the past few weeks I’ve coached three people who have struggled with overwhelm and exhaustion during their business travel.
Traveling for work can be intense because you push yourself to a full schedule, packing everything in to maximise your time away. You travel home and plow straight back into a busy schedule of catch up. Returning home can make you feel out of control, tired, exhausted, and burned out.
Here’s what I’ve learned about travelling:
- Travelling IS tiring – Whether you’re flying to India on business or attending a conference 120 miles from home, travelling is tiring — both mentally and physically. Lugging cases around, catching trains, planes, and taxis involve extra effort.
- Your routine is gone – Your routine is thrown out of sync because you’re doing something different. You might be leaving loved ones at home or taking them with you. You might be in a different time zone so your body clock gets confused.
- You work longer hours – Boundaries of working can become blurred because you’re staying in a hotel. There’s nothing else to do but work! A client recently told me that while in Singapore she ended up working local office hours and then continued working her usual UK time, as they came online. She was working 16 hour days!
- Hotel living – While the idea of staying in a 5 star hotel and resort may sound appealing, after two weeks you can become a little stir-crazy, especially if you’re travelling alone. You can wake up not knowing where you are. You can feel lonely and out of alignment with yourself. Eating alone in restaurants can feel uncomfortable.
- You eat unhealthily – It’s easy to eat unhealthy while travelling. Grabbing high sugar food because it’s easy. Also flying business class brings free alcohol on tap and good eating habits get forgotten as we eat ‘on the go.’
Here’s how to integrate with your travel schedule:
Plan the day before your trip to allow yourself time to pack and prepare. Don’t rush around last minute. This can cause you anxiety, stress and overwhelm – and you’re more likely to forget something!
During the Trip
- Look after your body – Build some exercise time into your day. This could be ½ session at the hotel gym or sit ups in your room. Exercise helps you mentally and physically. I often go straight to the gym for 30 minutes when I arrive at a hotel.
- Eat healthy – Carry healthy snacks with you. Look for healthier options as you travel. Make a conscious choice. Don’t skip meals or eat ‘junk’ because it’s better than nothing! Travel makes you dehydrate so be sure to drink loads of water!
- Get some sleep – Have an early night. It’s easy to stay up late especially if you’re in a different time zone.
- Treat yourself – Get a massage when you arrive or before you leave. I do this every time I fly in and out of the USA. It really helps me to re-align my mind and body.
- Have a night off – You don’t have to go out with friends or colleagues every evening. Sometimes we do this for FOMS (Fear of Missing Something!). Listen to your body, not your head!
I call this my Integration Day.
- Allow one 1 day to recover from any significant travel and be gentle on yourself. Allow time to unwind from the road and adjust back into your home environment and routine. Otherwise it’s easy to get overwhelmed and over tired.
- Self-care is paramount – listen to your body. Eat healthily and nap if you’re tired.
- Allow time for unpacking.
- Do things little and often and gently to integrate back into your routine.
- Set boundaries with work so it’s not full on when you return from a trip. You’ll do a better job if you’re refreshed and not burned out!
Create some good habits, systems, and rituals and look after yourself when you travel. Build in some integration time so you can adjust to your changing environments.