Having traveled 70k miles since the beginning of this year, I’ve learned a few things [the hard way] about how to stay sane on the road. Whether you take one trip a year or are more like me and feel like you’re on United more than you’re home, there are numerous things to keep in mind that will categorically change the experience.
When I first began this crazy, amazing travel, I had no idea how difficult it would be to keep my energy levels stable, feel healthy, get rested, and keep my life feeling relatively normal. But quickly reality set in, and while I was loving work (and the travel), I felt on the verge of exhaustion. I knew I needed to start asking people in my life who had traveled extensively how they made it work.
My travel secrets, both gleaned from others and tested true for myself, should be valuable for any traveler:
Get home on the weekends…
One of the most unexpectedly difficult things about traveling so often was coming back home. I’d be gone for full weeks at a time, sometimes multiple, only geting home for a day before leaving again. And I was making a huge mistake by not treating my relationships at home with the same thoughtfulness I would a long-distance friend. As I was reflecting on how terrible of a friend and roommate I was feeling like, someone gave me the best piece of advice for my relationships: get home on the weekends. This made all the difference in the world in feeling like I was connected to my best friends and community at home.
Travel the day before…
Changing time zones can be hell. Being in multiple time zones in any given week is just plain confusing. And the jet lag is even worse (although I spent months trying to act like jet lag was just made up in people’s heads #Fail). Getting to a destination the day before actually needing to be there is life changing. It allows me to aclimate to the time zone, get a feel for the city, and have a full night’s rest before having to be at whatever work function that brought me there. Basically, never take a red eye to get off the plane and begin working. It’ll have you screwed up for weeks.
Water Water Water and Exercise no matter what…
It’s funny because these are life basics to begin with. However, when you’re traveling it feels like everything you do right (and wrong for that matter) gets amplified. Drinking 3 liters of water (literally having a water bottle glued to my hand) and working out every morning no matter what city I’m in made the world of difference. My energy levels stabilized and I didn’t feel like I was constantly on the verge of exhaustion.
Rock the same outfits… [in a carry on]
As much as I love a dynamic wardrobe, checking a bag is just not an option when you travel professionally. It takes too much time and there’s no guarantee the bag will end up where you do. Realizing I could only pack in a carry on was one of the most brutal adjustments to traveling. How are 6 pairs of shoes and 10 outfits supposed to fit in one little bag? Well, headlining news: they don’t. So, pack the basics that mix and match with each other, buy shoes that go with any outfit, and show your creativity in jewelry. I pretty much end up wearing the same 5 outfits from trip to trip because they work and they fit in a carry on and I still look fabulous in them. And yes, I even traveled to Hong Kong for 10 days…in a carry on.
Commit to one airline… [and only fly direct]
When you’re traveling for work, time is money. So spending hours in the airport as you wait for connecting flights just is not worth it. It’s especially not worth it when flights get cancelled or delayed and then you end up wasting not just hours, but entire days in the airport. It only took one very bad day of travel to commit to direct flights when at all possible (some routes just don’t have direct options). And as you make all of these flight plans, ensure they’re all on one airline rewards programs. Loyalty to one airline will come back to serve you in terms of status, which gets you through security faster, free upgrades and points galore.
I could go on for posts about travel tips (actually, there’ll probably be an addendum to this soon), but I’d love to hear yours!