6 Ways to Make Business Travel Less Stressful

make-business-travel-less-stressful-melissa-lamson

As a global business consultant, I travel. A lot. And I have to admit; it wasn’t always easy or comfortable. Delayed and canceled flights. Long lines. Unhelpful airline staff. Jet lag. Breathing in recycled air. Sitting in one place for hours. The list of reasons goes on and on. But, I’m happy to report that today business travel is less stressful, and I even look forward to the many trips around the world that I’ll continue to make.

How did I come around? Lots of trial and error, and a few tips from other well-traveled individuals. Here are six ways you can make business travel less stressful.

1. Get cultured.

You’re in a new country–a land with interesting people and exotic sites. Don’t just stay in the hotel. Build some adventure into your trip. Spend time reading about the country, talk to colleagues who have been there before, and find out what to see or where to eat.

Spend time socializing with your colleagues who work there to build that bond and get a taste of the local culture.

Also, it’s a good idea to touch base with the consulate to ensure what precautions you may need to make to stay safe while abroad.

2. Pack right.

Most business travelers know what to wear to meetings, but they often forget about comfort and health. I’ve found a lightweight blanket, ear plugs, pillow, and eye mask to be a life-saver for catching some shut-eye on the plane.

Vitamins are also a must. They can go a long way in fortifying yourself against germs. I rely on vitamins and two supplements: COLD-FX and Traumeel.

Finally, save space for exercise clothes. Even if your schedule is jam-packed, just a thirty-minute workout can do wonders. It gets the blood flowing, your brain working, builds your immune system to fight colds and viruses, and makes you feel good.

3. Resist indulgence.

The trick to overcoming jetlag is resisting indulgence in food, drink, and sleep. Skip booze on the plane and drink water instead. Eat healthily, and get fresh air and exercise when you land. Finally, don’t fall into the “power nap” trap. Try to get onto the local schedule as soon as possible.

4. Maximize Google Translate.

This app can ensure most things don’t get lost in translation. Just be sure to bring a device that has WiFi (almost everywhere has it now), so you can tap into it to help give directions or express your wishes of where to go and what to see.

5. Keep it clean.

I have no shame when it comes to cleanliness. Bring wipes with you and wipe down airplane seats, hotel room door handles, remote controls, and any surface you’re unsure of. Bring hand sanitizer to avoid germs that could make you sick and miserable in a far-away country.

6. Take photos.

Photos are good for memories, but they also can come in handy when you need to remember where you came from and where you’re going. Take pictures with your phone of the metro stops so you know where to exit and get back on. Take a photo of your hotel, or grab a business card, so you know the address.

Traveling abroad doesn’t have to be a hassle. By employing these secrets to success, I feel confident you too can make your business travel less stressful this year.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo by Fancycrave from Pexels

6 Secrets to Overcoming Jet-Lag

I travel a lot for business. And its not only the shorter jaunts from Phoenix to San Francisco or Chicago to Boston. I travel from North to South America and Europe to Asia. Sometimes I’m on planes for 15-20 hours. For years now, I’ve suffered from jet-lag. It can be brutal, lasting a week, sometimes with flu symptoms, but I’ve sucked it up and dealt with it because I love my work, enjoy being in different countries, and learning about new cultures.

Last year, after several back-to-back trips to far-away places, I made a deal with myself I would employ some new jet-lag fighting tactics and see if I could find a better way to cope. I asked those executive friends of mine (who travel more than I do), did some internet research, and simply tested out a few strategies. Finally, after almost 25 years of business and personal travel, I think I’ve finally got this jet-lag thing beat.

Here are my six secrets to overcoming jet-lag:

1) Prepare a sleep-kit: Sleeping on planes is difficult enough, make it as comfortable as you can. First, get something to block out the noise; earplugs, headphones, or an extra pillow. Second, make sure you’re warm enough. A lightweight down jacket can bunch up into a headrest, add extra padding to your seat, or simply keep you nice and warm on an over-air conditioned plane. A fleece blanket or poncho and a hat or hood is helpful, too. And don’t forget your eye mask to block out light. If you’re lucky enough to travel business or first class, you’ll get most of these accessories with your seat.

2) Skip the wine: This is a tough one because they serve some nice wines on the European airlines. Singapore Airlines will even make you exotic fruit juice cocktails, like – surprise – the Singapore Sling. Alcohol may put you to sleep quickly but chances are you’ll be up again in an hour or two, wide awake from the sugar content in alcohol. It can also make recovering from jet-lag once you get to where you’re going tougher. It dehydrates you and you can feel even more tired.

3) Medicate if you dare: If you have trouble sleeping on planes it might be well worth taking some medication. Some folks prefer Melatonin or a homeopathic sleep aid, others use Tylenol or Advil PM. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe a sleeping pill for international flights. There’s nothing like being well-rested when you get to your final destination. Experiment with some options and find what’s best for you, but do try to sleep at least half of any trip over eight hours. Especially if its an overnight flight.

4) Eat VERY lightly: Again, this can be difficult. Meals help with the boredom on longer flights and the international airlines can serve up some mean grub. I recently had filet, asparagus grits and mixed sauteed vegetables. It was surprisingly delicious. I paid for it though, couldn’t sleep a wink. Luckily it was a day flight so I took the calculated risk. However, when I eat a salad with lots of raw veggies, no meat or carbs, board my flight, eat very little (if at all) on the plane, I tend to sleep well and feel better when I land.

5) Get some fresh air: I feel like my mother. When I was a kid, she always said, “Let’s get some fresh air, shall we?” What I think she really meant was, “You’re driving me nuts inside bouncing off the walls.” Anyway, I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference it makes recovering from jet-lag. Rain or shine, when I get to where I’m going, I go out for a stroll. (Assuming its a stroll-able location.) A brisk walk, especially if the air is cool, takes away that slight headache, refreshes you, and it’ll help you sleep better that first night.

6) Exercise, exercise, exercise: Critical to overcoming jet-lag (and to your overall well-being) is getting some exercise everyday – before, during and after your trip. Even a thirty minute workout can do wonders. It gets the blood flowing, your brain working, it builds your immune system to fight colds and viruses, and makes you feel dang good. If you’re staying at a hotel without a good gym facility, ask about a neighborhood gym nearby. Go for a run or join some people playing a sport outdoors. I’ve even downloaded a couple of workout apps and in a pinch, do those in my hotel room.

Of course you have to find what works best for you. I can’t promise you’ll conquer jet-lag entirely but I can promise the above tips will help a lot and you’ll feel more prepared for your next trip abroad. Happy travels!