Business trips can be rough over the holidays. Most of us would rather be relaxing in front of a roaring fire than sitting on a cramped plane, but business can’t always wait til January.
For those of you who are trading the comforts of home for planes, trains, and conference rooms, here are 11 quick tips for for mastering travel during this hectic holiday season.
If possible, I try to arrive in a city the night before my first meeting. An extra night gives me a chance to explore since once my meetings start, I usually don't have time to enjoy the scenery before getting back on a plane. Plus, if you’re traveling to Europe this time of year, you can enjoy the nightly colorful Christmas markets that are typically found in town centers.
Get My Body Ready
Don't underestimate jet lag, especially on frequent international trips. The night before my trip, I try to get to bed early or late, depending on where I'm headed, so that my body can start to adjust to the new time zone. I also bring Tylenol PM, which I use as a last resort option in case I’m really struggling to fall asleep the night before an early breakfast meeting.
Rest and Recharge
Whirlwind trips leave little time for relaxation, but sleep is a critical component of being able to play at the top of your game. Instead of checking your phone in the back of that Uber (or Lyft or GrabTaxi or local cab), try closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths. Resting, even for a few minutes, always makes me feel more relaxed, centered and ready to tackle my next meeting.
Before traveling abroad, I download language lesson podcasts so I can listen to them on the plane. This habit helps my mind adjust to hearing the new language and I can pick up some useful phrases, which is always helpful when navigating foreign cities.
Rely on Colleagues
In the office, I have a team that covers for me as needed. My assistant handles inbound requests and my cofounder takes meetings in my home base of San Francisco. This way, I can focus during my trip without worrying about what’s happening back at the office.
Set Aside Correspondence Time
Email tends to pile up if I'm traveling, and clearing out my inbox can take hours. So, I try to set aside blocks of time (like two hours before breakfast or two hours before going to bed) to address important correspondence and delegate the rest.
I always activate my e-mail auto-responder to let people know I am away from the office. This way I don't feel pressure to respond immediately, and I can deal with other priorities while traveling. (Don't forget to turn it off when you get back to the office, either, or clients might think you spend too much time away from your desk.)
I keep bottled water with me all the time. Few things, short of exercise, will dehydrate you faster than flying. And few things will make you feel worse than being dehydrated. (Hangovers are one of them, by the way.)
I keep particular items that I may need at any time in my carry-on luggage -- converters, laptop and cell phone power cords, as well as toiletries, such as toothpaste and deodorant. I keep back-ups in my checked bags, too. That way, I'm covered if I’ve forgotten something.
Being resilient, flexible, and fast on your feet is necessary for traveling at any time of year, but especially so during the holidays when airports are jammed, snow storms delay flights, bags get crushed in overhead compartments, and fellow travelers are stressed out with screaming kids. Rather than getting agitated, I try to remember that I am exactly where I’m meant to be at that moment.
Learn to Meditate
If all this insanity gets to be too much to handle, remember several apps are just a download away that will help you meditate, which can be another useful way to spend downtime in an airport or plane, or even if you need to break away for some peace and quiet when your in-laws are in town for the holidays.
Bon voyage and happy holidays!