How to travel for business and stay healthy, happy, and sane

If you’ve ever stood in line for airport security, you know that traveling for business isn’t always glamorous. While most consultants enjoy the excitement of jet-setting between cities, seeing new places, and staying active, there are days when business travel can feel tiring or overwhelming.

Beth Jones, senior consultant with Nordic, used to travel from New Hampshire to Texas for work every few weeks, and she says the key is to be intentional and disciplined about the way you structure your work/life balance. Here, she offers a few ideas for staying healthy, productive, and balanced when you’re traveling for work on a regular basis.

1. Keep a bag at your regular hotel. 

Hotels that you frequent will often let you keep a small bag of toiletries and personal accessories with the hotel staff, for you to use when you visit. Beth recommends putting a few items, such as your favorite shampoo, deodorant, and non-perishable snacks, in a travel bag and leaving it with the front desk.

That way, you can ensure that you don’t get stopped at security with oversized toiletries or forget anything you need at home, and you can use your luggage space to pack more exciting items.

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2. Schedule your time at home to keep you on track.

When you get home from the airport, it can be so tempting to crash on the couch, turn on the TV, and give yourself some well-deserved rest. But Beth cautions you to go into your weekend or time off with a clear list of what you want to accomplish.

Whether it’s doing laundry for the following week, painting the deck, or calling a family member to catch up, make sure you have goals for the weekend so that you don’t go into the next week feeling unaccomplished. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time to relax and enjoy yourself – just have an idea of what you want the weekend to look like, and try to stick with that plan.

3. Enroll in TSA Precheck. 

Priority airline members usually get boarding perks, but Beth recommends enrolling for TSA Precheck as a backup if you’re traveling consistently. Waiting in the airport security line can be a draining experience if you’re doing it week after week, and saving 30 minutes can do wonders for your mental health.

Take that extra time to sit down with a book, catch up on email, or take a stroll around the airport to stretch your legs. Beth says this small step will help you reduce your aggravation about normal travel delays or inconveniences.

4. Take time to exercise and eat healthy food. 

Especially when work is stressful, it can be hard to exercise and eat healthy foods – and this is exacerbated when you’re on the road and it’s easier to grab fast food and veg out in your hotel room. As much as possible, try to develop a routine that incorporates healthy foods and exercise into your days. Maybe that means stopping by a local coffee shop to buy a banana in the morning or taking time over lunch to walk a little further than you would normally go. Once you get used to incorporating those healthy habits, you’ll find it a lot easier to take care of yourself.

5. Get a great pair of noise-cancelling headphones. 

Beth says that noise-cancelling headphones have been a lifesaver for airplane travel, especially when she wants to sleep, get work done, or just tune out the sounds of the world around her.

You never know when you’ll be on a plane with a spring break trip full of high schoolers, and being able to retreat to your own quiet world will do wonders for your patience and stress levels.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do for yourself is to maintain a positive attitude and treat business travel like just another commute – time for you to decompress, center yourself, and prepare for the work ahead. Just sit back, relax, and focus on the airline and flight points you’ll accumulate as a result of your hard work.

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