The stress of business travel not only affects you physically, it can also decrease your performance when you’re on the road. Follow these 12 tips to minimize travel fatigue and maximize productivity.
Check your IT needs
Make sure all of your technology needs are taken care of well in advance of your business trip. Tell your IT department what your tech needs will be during your trip (e.g., making a PowerPoint presentation, working from your room, checking email on the plane). Call your hotel to make sure they offer in-room Wi-Fi and a business center with an internet connection and printer. Learn how to check-in online for rental cars and flights so you can skip lines.
Plan your packing
Pack effectively to avoid complications that can plague you during your travel. For specific tips on how to pack for a business trip see Your go-to business trip packing tips.
Leave 30 minutes early
It’s better to arrive at the airport early and relax for a while than to rush to the airport, look for parking, navigate security and race to your gate – which all cause stress. That slow driver in front of you, missing the parking lot bus or a long security line will cause your brain to release stress hormones. An extra 15 minutes of sleep in the morning won’t make up for the stress cutting it close causes.
Keep your metabolism and energy levels elevated with short bursts of physical activity throughout the day. Walking stairs for five minutes is an easy way to take a break after you’ve been sitting for a long period. Light calisthenics in your hotel room is a better choice than a quick nap because you’ll produce energizing neurotransmitters called endorphins, and relaxing and “feel-good” hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine. Bring resistance bands on the road to create quick, full-body cardio and strength workouts in your hotel room.
Exercise at the right time
Most business travelers have time to exercise during the morning or evening. Don’t exercise on an empty stomach in the morning, since you haven’t refueled for many hours. Have a small, slow-digesting snack like a slice of whole grain bread, a banana or some oatmeal before a moderately intense workout. It’s okay to exercise in the evening two or more hours before you go to bed. As your body lowers its temperature after exercise, you’ll more easily continue that process, which is key to getting into deep sleep mode.
Be aware of your sugar intake
Eating too much sugar can cause fatigue. Sugary snacks such as sweetened coffee drinks and baked goods can provide a quick rush of energy but then there is a large crash. Processed foods contain a lot of sugar. Travelers tend to eat more processed foods when on the road simply because processed foods are more available than fresh foods. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and starchy vegetables supply your brain with the glucose it needs to function. While simple carbohydrates have very little nutritional value.
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Handle late-night dinners with care~root~>
During business trips, you may be invited to late dinners. The closer you eat to bedtime, the more difficulty you might have sleeping. Avoid large servings of protein, which take longer to digest. Skip acidic foods, which can cause late-night heartburn, and stimulants such as tea and coffee. If you know you’re going to be eating a late dinner, have a snack 30 minutes before you go out to avoid overeating. Start with soup and salad (without bacon bits) to help reduce the need for a heavy entree. Instead of a burger, choose a turkey wrap with veggies. Add meat or seafood to a salad instead of making them your main entree.
Don’t skip breakfast
The time between dinner and breakfast is sometimes as long as 18 hours. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it helps you re-start your metabolism, and because you’ll be less alert and productive due to the decrease in cognitive function caused by a lack of glucose.
Snack for energy
Keep your blood sugar levels even throughout the day with a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Pack portable snacks like unsalted nuts, a hard boiled egg, energy bars and trail mix. Keep fresh fruit, plain yogurt or string cheese in your hotel room mini fridge.
Hydrate and manage alcohol consumption
Have at least one bottle of water during the morning and one during the afternoon. Drink water on a long flight, based on the dry quality of air inside planes. If you’ll be drinking alcohol, drink in moderation. Not only does alcohol contribute to dehydration, it’s also a muscle relaxant in small quantities and a stimulant if you over drink.
Prepare for jet lag
If you’re flying from the East Coast to the West Coast, take a nap during your flight. If you’re flying from the West Coast to the East Coast in the morning after a full night’s sleep and will be heading into work after you arrive, stay awake during your flight. Keep the plane windows open or use your personal light to avoid drowsiness. Get some exercise after you arrive. If you’ll be arriving on the East Coast late at night or after midnight, shortly before you’ll be going to bed, it’s OK to nap during your flight and then continue the sleep process when you get to your destination. Check out Prevent jet lag from annihilating your life for more tips.
Follow these tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
- Set your room temperature between 60 and 67 degrees to help your body lower your core temperature (a natural process of sleep).
- Use earplugs if necessary to block out noise in a busy hotel.
- Keep light out of the room while you sleep (to help your brain release sleep-inducing melatonin and reduce the production of stimulating serotonin). Use an eye mask, if there is extra light in your hotel room that can’t be blocked out.