Frequent business travelers might have the routine down, but for others just starting out, it's important to find a good balance between work and relaxation, especially on long trips that can wreak havoc on the immune system. While your company likely has a travel planner to make corporate travel more cost-effective, organized and less fraught with stress for individual travelers, there's a lot you can do on your own to make your travel stress-free.
But some recent surveys and focus groups suggest that business travelers might have a difficult time relaxing, especially with the ability to be connected wherever we go these days, whether it's via smartphone or in-flight WiFi. According to mophie, a company that makes mobile batteries for smart phones and other devices, business travelers check their phones an average of 34 times per day. While many of these phone checks are necessary for business purposes, it's entirely probable that checking one's mobile device has become a nervous habit of sorts – not allowing business travelers to completely relax or unwind when it's sorely needed. In fact, from the same report, 59 percent of sampled business travelers reported that they would feel lonely, distraught or lost if they had to go a week without their smartphones. While smartphones are definitely vital – 75 percent of people reported their devices increase their productivity – everyone needs a break, especially during hectic business travel.
You know what amount of work your company requires from you while traveling, but we have some ideas to help you enjoy your much-deserved downtime and disconnect completely. After all, taking occasional breaks without having one eye on your phone at all times is the best way to remain productive and fully engaged when necessary. Here are some tips:
Work ahead if you can
Air New Zealand conducted an in-air focus group in April 2013 with six very frequent fliers who boarded a flight from Los Angeles to London. They asked the group to predict what percentage they planned to do each of the following activities: Sleeping, working, eating, reading, listening to music and watching movies. They then compared the travelers' answers with how each actually spent his or her time. On average, travelers reported that they would spend the majority of their time sleeping and working, with an equal split between the two: 30 percent working and 30 percent asleep.
However, in actuality, travelers spent an average of 75 percent of their time sleeping and only about 10 percent working! Anyone who takes long flights knows that the best thing you can do to pass the time is sleep. So plan ahead and be honest with yourself – If you like to sleep on the plane but your company will expect you to get a little work done during business hours, work ahead if at all possible so you aren't stressed later when you have to scramble to finish that presentation.
Many hotels today have in-house spas. Even if your trip is very hectic, carve out some time to get a treatment or a relaxing massage – your body and mind will thank you. Hotels are even more likely to have a nice gym and sauna. If hitting the gym helps you clear your mind and relax, find some time to get a good workout in.
If you're traveling to a city where you have friends or even casual acquaintances, make sure to meet up for a nice local dinner one night. Seeing familiar faces and talking to people outside a work context can be calming. This is especially true on global travel when you're less likely to have access to familiar people, foods or other things. Also, it's less likely that your conversation will turn to work.