However you look at it, business travel is a mixed bag. Alongside the freedom and exhilaration of road warrior status come long hours, stressful travel delays and most of all, the isolation of being on your own, far from familiar surroundings. Even for veteran business travelers, time away from home can be isolating without those easy connections with family, friends and the routines and environment of home.
The good news? A few simple tweaks can cut the stress and up the serenity when you travel:
- Don’t live out of your suitcase. Hanging your clothes in the closet, using the drawers and making the counter space your own sends a subconscious cue that you’re in charge and in familiar territory.
- Venture out of the room. Even if you need to bring your laptop with you, make use of the hotel’s welcoming shared spaces, such as seating areas around the fireplace and pool. Being around others can spark conversation or at the very least offer a sense of shared companionship.
- Bigger is better. When possible, upgrade from a standard room to a suite for an extended stay. Having more elbow room, an in-room fridge and other conveniences makes a big difference.
- Travel with your totems. What reminds you of home? Maybe it’s your pillow, a few photos, your music playlist. One frequent traveler opts for fresh flowers in a collapsible vase that’s easy to pack. Another listens to e-books to stay connected to the neighborhood book club. Or maybe it’s a comfy robe and slippers to make evenings cozy. Whatever it is, bring it.
- Stay with your normal routine. Flying, driving and being on the move are disruptive enough. When possible, try to stick with your normal regime of exercise, diet and sleep habits to maintain balance away from familiar turf. Make use of your hotel’s fitness center and check for healthy food options in the breakfast offerings.
- Use your tech tools. Kissing your spouse and kids goodnight over FaceTime or Skype may not be perfect, but it’s better than nothing — you can still read a child a bedtime story or share the details of a busy day with a loved one. Keeping a photo gallery on your laptop also helps warm up an unfamiliar room with images of your loved ones.
- Make the most of membership. Join and use hotels’ loyalty programs, such as Club Carlson, so you can enjoy the fruits of your travels with perks like free room nights, upgrades airline miles and more — either on future business trips or later with the whole family along.