So, you’re the high-flying international jetsetter.
Your friends envy you every time you mention your next upcoming business trip. The perceived glamour of it all can be a little too much for others to take. But it can also be a bit much for you to take. After all, travelling for business with pressurised business expectations, jet-lag and eating bad airport food can play havoc with your health and wellbeing.
Employers tend to focus on the necessity of travel and its associated costs, while the employee concentrates on the preparation and execution. The pressure in the preparation and execution is what makes it almost impossible for business executives to get work done on the road, stay stress-free and maintain a healthy diet.
So, we’ve come up with five tips to reduce stress (and loss of money for your company) on your next business trip:
1. Be prepared with a packing list
This may sound like something your mother would say but it’s true. Who doesn’t love making a list? (even if it’s just so you can tick off all the stuff once it’s done). Make a checklist of the items that you need for your trip—including any business materials such as laptops, battery leads, portable batteries, USB sticks, phone chargers and presentation equipment.
Charge them all before travel (and don’t forget the electrical adaptors suitable for the country you are travelling to). This will avoid having to choose between charging your phone or your electric toothbrush. Always try to bring a portable Wi-Fi or mobile hotspot, just in case Wi-Fi reception is poor. This can mitigate a lot of undue anxiety. A good tip is to email the hotel you are staying at so they can print any material you need locally to save hauling it with you.
2. Take time to take a break
In the weeks coming up to your trip, create a detailed schedule for your trip to lock in meetings with the individuals or groups you need to catch up with to achieve your outcomes. Agree in advance the key agenda items you need to cover for each meeting. Remember that when you’re scheduling meetings allow space in between each one to decompress.
This might mean taking down brief sets of notes and action points, having time for a breather to go and grab a coffee, go to the toilet or go for a ten-minute walk to clear your head. Learn from the best —some of the world’s greatest minds (Beethoven, Goethe, Darwin, Aristotle, Freud) found the mighty stroll helped them compose, write, paint, create and problem-solve.
Also try your best to plan what work you can do while travelling to try to limit the amount of ‘catching up’ you’ll have to do when you get back to the desk. If you have extended space in between meetings, schedule in some work you can complete that is not related to the business meeting at hand. This will help your mind relax more as you’ll feel on top of things. If you’re running around flustered and like a headless chicken, you will be disorganised and come off as unprofessional to your work colleagues. You will also become quickly exhausted and unproductive.
3. Use tech to your advantage
Stress levels for business travellers often start with online hotel booking tools. This is because employees generally need to find the right hotel price and stick within company travel and expense guidelines and get it booked and confirmed quickly.
Roomex is a powerful tool for business travel. The platform gives you access to corporate rates for over 550,000 hotels worldwide, without having to trawl through numerous websites price-checking. Roomex also has Google Maps integrated into the platform so that you can search hotels by specific postal codes, street names, nearby rail stations etc. to show the hotels closest to your meeting point.
You can also restrict searches to just Bed and Breakfast options only and you can sort by price, star rating, customer rating and hotel name. To top it off, all bookings are confirmed by Roomex, which is already a weight lifted off your shoulders, as there’s nothing worse than booking a hotel on a third-party website only to find out that there is literally no room at the Inn! And there’s a designated priority team at Roomex on hand to help, should you need any assistance. Easy peasy!
4. Get with the programme
CamCard is a great tool for consolidating all of the business cards you collect on a trip into one space on your phone. All you need to do is take a photo of the business card and the app files it with dates and any notes you made with it, so you have one quick and easy place to see all the cards collected on a trip without carrying them around.
It also allows you to send someone your business card electronically. And for pockets full of expense receipts, use an app like Expensify that allows you to capture mileage, food receipts, and other expenses and sorts them all in one place. If you want, it can even send an expense form for you - all you need to do is take a picture of the receipt, and the app automatically fills out the form and submits the expense report for you.
5. Keep healthy snacks in your carry on
Eat a good, satisfying meal, whether that’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, before your flight. We can’t quite put our finger on it, but there is something sinister with aeroplane meals, and more often than not, they can upset your stomach.
Business travel isn’t cheap and your company will want to see a return on their investment so arriving to a meeting feeling bloated or having a toilet emergency is not a good look. So why risk it? Try to pack some healthy snacks in your carry on to fill the void but also so you can feel smug chomping on your goji berry oat bar while the guy in the next seat is trying to clean himself up after hoovering up a greasy packet of crisps.
The idea would be to ditch the plane grub and grab a salad beforehand that contain brain foods that boost focus and memory like avocados, blueberries and walnuts (and just so it’s not all doom and gloom, some dark chocolate for dessert - the higher percentage of cocoa, the better!). These types of food all include vitamin C, vitamin K, fibre and are packed with antioxidants and high levels of gallic acid, they are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress.