I spend more time traveling than I do staying put – and I wouldn't trade it for anything! Business trips are usually short – and, if you're like me, you're tempted to fill every minute with back-to-back meetings, lunches, dinners, happy hours and hotel wifi. When you love what you do, the line between business and pleasure is blurry. But part of finding that elusive work/life balance is taking small opportunities to turn the blurriness into a solid, dividing line.
Even if you can't add extra days to your trip, there are ways to avoid business travel burnout.
1. Embrace the familiar. I love how travel shows me new points of view and enhances my creativity. But travel also disrupts everyday habits and routines. So having a few comforting travel routines can minimize the stress. For example, flying the same airline not only means earning points and special perks, but it also means knowing what kind of service and amenities to expect. I love trying new hotels, yet staying at one where I'm a repeat guest makes me feel like I'm at my home away from home. Eating at your favorite restaurant before hitting the airport can also be a travel ritual that eases the journey.
2. Research is your friend. For the city you're visiting, find out everything unrelated to business that you are interested in there. You obviously won't be able to do or see it all. But having a list of possibilities will help when you find yourself with two hours free and a desire to have a little fun. You can always get suggestions from locals to add to your list.
3. Ditch the guilt. Since the whole reason for your trip is to meet clients, recruit talent, or attend a conference, doing anything else can feel like a waste of time. Being human and needing a little rest and relaxation is nothing to feel guilty about! Even if you don't feel like you need it, take the time to bring a little pleasure into your trip. Your good mood is sure to make your meetings better.
4. Schedule an indulgence. Instead of treating every non-business moment like something illicit, schedule in a little pleasure time and treat it like a real appointment. Decide on a reasonable amount of time you can set aside – whether a whole day, an evening, or even an hour – and make an appointment with fun! Wander around a new city, try an exciting restaurant, order a massage, visit a museum… whatever makes you happy! Even an overnight trip gives you enough time for a luxurious bubble bath or a quick chocolate mousse break at a restaurant with a view.
5.Avoid drab venues when possible. It's not always up to us where our meetings will be. But if you have any say in the venue, avoid empty rooms with just a conference table and a few outlets or any other “meeting room” with no character. There are fun meeting places that are also professional and practical. Your client might enjoy chatting over manicures instead of zoning out on a 30-slide PowerPoint. A cafe at the park can be more conducive to business than a meeting room with a weird selection of danishes and old croissants.
Image credit: Giorgio Montersino