No matter where you are in the world, your health should be a top priority.
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You could be an international consultant who travels, at minimum, 150 days out of the year or the CEO who has a heavy portion of staff who travels frequently. In either case, addressing business travel is a must.
According to a 2017 study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with InterContinental Hotels Group, 66 million trips were taken last year for project-based purposes solely (representing 12 percent of all U.S. business trips). In that same study, project-based business travel spending reached $45.4 billion.
This is only a small fraction of the business travel puzzle. Business travel is here to stay and will only increase due to the business world becoming more globalized.
Related: Why Are Health and Wellness Startups Flourishing?
That said, the conventional wisdom of accepting lower levels of energy, losing grip on healthy habits and decreasing performance doesn’t have to be the case. Use these four strategies to make your next business trip a high performing and healthy one.
1. Prepare your rest and energy toolkit.
One of the most difficult aspects of traveling is being away from your home. Think of this like sports teams who don’t perform as well away as they do on their home court. This is simply because, at home, comfort, familiarity and routine are in full effect.
Not so much on the road — or in the air.
One of the first steps to mastering business travel involves building up your toolkit. Start by asking this question, “what key items will I most need to feel at my best?” To help throw some ideas out there, here are a couple of items I recommend:
- An eye mask
- Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones for the plane
- Something to layer up with on the plane (or for your room)
- Blue-blocking glasses
This is what I call the bare minimum items. Think about those small but valuable items that would bring more of your home onto the road with you.
2. Don’t eat two “bad meals” in a row. Keep health top of mind.
I get it. Traveling exposes you to new foods and treats that you can’t get at home. While enjoying food is encouraged, it also needs to be brought up that food plays an intimate role with your energy levels, both mental and physical.
This is where the no two “bad meals” in a row rule comes into effect. What are “bad meals?”
Related: 8 Ways to Avoid the ‘Bad Health’ Burden of Business Trips
Two things: foods that simply aren’t on your typical regimen, along with foods you know intuitively don’t serve your current goals. This looks different to everyone because each of us will have a different style of eating, along with our own health and fitness goals.
This rule helps you maintain your healthy habits and mindset while allowing room to enjoy the flavorful dishes in your new city. If you completely turn off the healthy habit switch and continuously indulge, it’ll be harder to focus on your health when you get home
3. Be picky about your time of arrival.
Light is a powerful signal to your human system as it communicates and helps orient you to the time of the day.
With sleep, increasing light exposure at night isn’t ideal due to it suppressing melatonin (i.e. your sleep hormone). But in the early morning and afternoon, light is welcomed. Strategic light exposure is also helpful for adjusting to your new time zone, especially if traveling across multiple time zones.
For example, on a trip to Portugal, I was heading eastward which meant I was advancing my internal clock. Arriving in the morning would be beneficial as I get light exposure along with having an easier time staying awake so I can fall asleep later that night.
Keeping up with different time zones and pairing it up with your sleep schedule can be confusing. A simple app to create your personalized plan is Timeshifter.
4. Plan and confirm the everyday details of life.
Often times, the biggest energy drainers and stress-causing agents are from the small everyday activities of life. When traveling, obtaining as much certainty as you can works wonders for your mental and emotional psyche.
Some of the specific things to know are your exercise plan, daily work schedule and living arrangements, along with what’s in close proximity to name a few. Afterward, create a contingency plan for some of the more common situations that could throw a wrench in your plans.
Related: 4 Ways to Boost Productivity, Performance and Overall Health, Without Breaking the Bank
Lastly, arrive a day or two earlier before the big presentation or event that you’re there for. This allows your body time to adjust and get closer to returning to equilibrium.
Business travel is valuable for creating new opportunities, forging new relationships, increasing your revenue and amplifying your message. However, to ensure yourself of maximizing each of those domains, take some time beforehand to effectively strategize your trip.