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Treat Yourself Better: Avoiding Business Travel Burnout Through a Self-Care Routine

November 17th, 2016 /

Pacing down the window-lined airport walkway, I found myself gripping my suitcase a little too tightly. I was exhausted, short on sleep, and unable to look forward to a speaking engagement that should have been (at least a little) fun. I’d been living out of a carry-on for the better part of the past six months, and, simply put, I was burned out.

Sometimes burnout is a sign that you need to be more selective about when you travel, but there are times when you simply can’t avoid another night on the road. So when I at last returned home, I invested a little time in figuring out which self-care practices made the biggest difference during particularly rough trips, and I’ve followed my routine religiously since then. While these techniques can’t compare to the feeling of finally getting to unpack, they do make my trips a little more relaxing.

how to beat business travel burnout? plan ahead

Airports can be hugely stressful places. With the right self-care, they can feel a little more welcoming. Photo by Flickr user Philip Tellis (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Treat Your Body Kindly Before You Leave

While leisure travelers might swear by the services offered in first-class airline lounges, the massage-in-a-box spots available at most airports do a far better job of getting me ready to travel—often at half the price. I’ve found that I have a lot less post-flight stiffness if I stop by one of these locations before takeoff.

Assuming you’ve got your flight plans nailed down in advance, I’d suggest calling ahead to schedule a full-body massage or manicure the day of your trip. Over the last couple of years, I’ve forged a solid friendship with the massage therapists at XpresSpa at SFO, and I really enjoy the personalized service. It also gives me something to look forward to before the flight.

As another proactive measure, I’ve started taking therapeutic-dose probiotics before I fly. Probiotics may help prevent some of the most common traveler’s ailments, ensuring you’re comfortable during the rest of your trip. And while the real danger of stomach upset happens with international flights, I sometimes find myself not feeling all that great after back-to-back cross-country business trips.

Set Your Travel Intention Before Boarding

Post-massage, but before boarding, I try to find an empty gate where I can sit alone for half an hour or so. I typically use this time to meditate.

Meditating in public can feel awkward if you’re not used to it, but the stress relief far outweighs any initial discomfort. If you’re worried about your bags, roll them in front of your seat and rest your feet there. And if silent meditation isn’t your thing, consider using a guided meditation program on your smartphone. If you’re lucky, your airport might even have a designated meditation room, chapel, or outdoor courtyard that you can use.

Once the first call for boarding comes, I take a final few minutes to mentally set my intentions: what event am I speaking at, and what is my goal? If I’m flying home, what have I accomplished on my trip? I find that pausing to reflect reminds me why I’m traveling in the first place—making me less irritated by small inconveniences.

business travel burnout can be alleviated through meditation

Clearing your mind and setting travel intentions can help make frequent travel easier. Image by Flickr user Binary Koala (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Take Care of Yourself When You Land

Early in my career, I learned that rental cars are a hassle: picking them up, dropping them off, making sure the gas tank is full, paying for parking in a crowded and unfamiliar city—the list goes on.

So when I land, I now use Uber for Business. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Uber; the company’s entirely new platform (launched in 2014) caters to those looking to streamline their business travel. The service includes reduced corporate rates and makes it incredibly easy for you to track transportation expenses. I don’t have to worry about paperwork, carrying cash, or keeping track of taxi stubs for an expense report—the app handles all of this electronically.

If I’ll be in a new city for more than a day, the first place I ask my Uber driver to stop is the nearest Whole Foods. It sounds a little odd, but it’s one of my favorite travel hacks. My goal is to fill my hotel mini-fridge with familiar groceries: the same cereal that I eat at home, my favorite brand of hummus, basically anything that leaves me feeling healthy, energized, and comfortable. Familiar food is like bringing a little piece of home with you—and you won’t have to deal with the consequences of the thousand-calorie prime rib dinner the hotel is serving (an especially important consideration if you’re trying to keep up a consistent exercise routine).

A Better Business Travel Experience

Traveling for business can make you into a frequent-flyer-zombie, but the right self-care routine can bring a little life back to your step. One last tip: If booking a hotel is another stressor you could do without, JetLux is a fantastic resource for luxury accommodations at corporate rates. Get in touch, and find your zen wherever you happen to land.

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