For many careers and positions, business travel is something that comes with the territory. Unfortunately, this often means extra stress and pressure outside of your comfort zone. How you approach business travel will largely dictate your stress levels and emotional response.
What Causes Business Travel Stress and Anxiety?
Business travel is often self-reported as one of the most stressful aspects of a person’s job or profession. It puts you in unfamiliar places and situations – away from the people you know – and forces you to perform in spite of a long list of stressors.
The COVID-19 pandemic took business travel stress to a whole new level over the last couple of years. And while we have finally returned to a relative sense of normalcy, there are still plenty of other factors that make traveling for business stressful, including:
- Work-related pressure (meetings, projects, and presentations)
- Jetlag and exhaustion from traveling
- Possibility of missed flights or travel interruptions
- Missing important social or family events back home
- Lack of exercise and/or normal diet
- Possibility of language or cultural barriers making communication difficult
Travel puts people in unfamiliar places and situations. Layer on top of that the high expectations for performance and it’s enough to make even the most confident and successful business professional wilt under the pressure.
4 Tips for Stress-Free Business Travel
While business travel can be stressful and challenging, it doesn’t have to be miserable. There are plenty of ways to plan ahead and mitigate or avoid some of the traditional stress factors that emerge on a business trip.
Let’s take a look at several of them:
- Prepare Ahead of Time
Don’t wait until the night before your business trip to start getting all of your “ducks” in a row. Instead, do everything you can to prepare at least 48-72 hours in advance. This will lower your stress level the night before, which will help you wake up in a much better mood on the day of departure. Here are several things you can do:
- Pack your bag at least a couple of days in advance
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast at your destination and make any changes to your clothing/packing (if necessary)
- Add all events, meetings, and travel details to your phone’s calendar
- Download and print airline tickets and travel itinerary so that you have offline copies available
- Leave a copy of your travel itinerary and any contact information with your family or roommates
As you complete items like these in the days before your trip, you’ll notice that it keeps the stress at bay. Preparation and planning are powerful antidotes to anxiety.
- Pack Light
You don’t need to throw your entire wardrobe into a suitcase. Keep it simple and pack light. This is beneficial for two specific reasons:
- Reduces decision fatigue. You have a limited amount of willpower per day. Every choice you make at the start of the day uses some of this mental processing power. Believe it or not, filtering through a large wardrobe to pick an outfit can start your day off on the wrong foot. When you only have one or two options to pick from, you’re able to preserve your decision-making power for more important choices.
- Prevents travel-related problems. By packing light, you can leave the checked luggage at home and use a carry-on. This prevents issues related to checking baggage, waiting for luggage at baggage claim, and/or dealing with lost luggage from airport transfers.
The good news is that nobody really cares what you wear. As long as you look professional, that’s all that matters. There are plenty of other times to make a fashion statement – this isn’t it.
- Consider Your Mode of Travel
Sometimes it’s necessary to travel via air. But in many cases, it’s just what we’ve grown accustomed to. Depending on how far you’re traveling and where the destination is, there may be more practical alternatives that allow you to skip the airport. For example, you could hire a car service to drive you to your destination, which allows you to ride in comfort while simultaneously saving you time.
Should you choose to fly, think about your travel plans upon arrival. Getting a private airport transfer makes it easy to reach your final destination without having to worry about calling an Uber or finding public transportation options in an unfamiliar city.
- Exercise and Eat Well
When traveling, make time for healthy habits. Almost every hotel has some sort of exercise room or gym. Wake up early and start each morning off with a little cardio. This gets your blood pumping and helps to wake up your mind and body.
After working out, skip the pancakes and waffles. Instead, try something fresh and hearty that will give you energy without the late-morning “crash.” Oatmeal and fruit are typically safe bets.
Adding it All Up
There’s always going to be some stress involved in business travel. However, you can do yourself a favor and proactively get out in front of the stress with proper planning. Use the tips highlighted in this article to set yourself up for success.