6 tips on How to Keep Sane When Travelling Extensively

Authored by Victoria Roos-Olsson, FranklinCovey Senior Leadership Consultant and author of The Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices For Leading A Team (www.EDAGM.com)

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In the next 30 days I’m traveling to London (UK) UK, New Orleans (LA), Savannah (GA), Tampa (FL), Albuquerque (NM), Palo Alto (CA), Plano (TX), and possibly making a quick stop in Salt Lake City, as well. I know I’m not alone with this intensive schedule, as I see my fellow world travelers at the airport. When you travel as much as I’ve done in the past year, a flight is more like taking the bus, and the airport is a second office. But still, it takes energy and some smart planning to stay sane with a hectic schedule like that. Especially when you are balancing several important roles at the same time. So here is my best advice, to help you stay sane when you are travelling extensively:

  1. Weekly planning. I always plan weekly, and I have done so since I first read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey over 20 years ago. And, when you are traveling for weeks at a time, that planning needs to be even more detailed. As I have two teenage daughters, this includes some family delegation and clarifying specific tasks that needs to be completed while I’m away. I usually plan the upcoming week on Thursday afternoon, which gives me a business day (Friday) to resolve any last-minute issues, contact specific people, and make possible adjustments, so I’m not doing it at the last minute. And really, it avoids the heartbeat going up on Sunday night (“Oh no, is that important meeting taking place this week?!”). I revisit my roles (spouse, mother, author, presenter, etc.) and define my big rocks for the week (most important goals/tasks) and make sure they are included in the plan. 
  2. Fitness routine. As a firm believer in the fact that “movement” makes me happier and smarter, I really try to think proactively about how to include fitness in my travel schedule. It’s one thing to get to the gym, but it’s quite another thing to get movement into the day. I’m lucky that my job (facilitating workshops and delivering keynotes) involves a lot of standing. But there’s a lot of sitting if you travel daily; during flights, in Uber, in meetings, etc. So, I try to use every opportunity there is to move.  On a long flight, I do ten quick squats by the bathroom, and if time allows, I will walk rather than taking the escalator or speed trains across the airport, and quite often, that’s even faster. I stand at the gate rather than sit, as I have hours of sitting ahead of me anyway. I also bring my yoga travel mat wherever I go. I’ve not gone as far as my friend who will find a quiet corner at the airport to do yoga, but it’s perfect for the hotel room, early in the morning. 
  3. Diet. This is where I struggle the most. I’m doing my best to cut out wheat and refined sugar from my diet. And, I’ve also joined my daughters on their vegetarian quest, which limits my choices at airports, hotels, and workshops at which I present. My answer to this dilemma is to be prepared! I always have nuts, a health bar and fruit with me. And recently, when there haven’t been any good options, I pretend that I’m doing the 5:2 diet (as in fasting) and remind myself that intermittent fasting can still allow me to be friendly and professional. If other people can do it, so can I. 
  4. Connect. So, this might sound ironic. You’re leaving everyone you care for to travel across the globe. What does it mean to “connect?”  There are two things I’m considering here. One is to send out good vibes and truly get to know the people you meet. I have found that some of the most amazing stories in my life have come from the most unexpected meetings. For example, there are amazing Uber drivers who have really contributed to and enriched my life. Now there’s a good future book, The Surprising Stories of Uber drivers I’ve Met. And of course, I have the opportunity to connect with all of the participants in my workshops, which is one of the reasons why I love my job as much as I do. But the other possibility to “connect” is to use technology to reach out to friends and family members. Waiting at a gate for a flight is a splendid opportunity to send a few messages to people who mean a lot to you. More than once, I’ve had a nice “catch-up” chat with people I care about in a far-off place and time zone, while waiting to board the next plane. I remember how my busy, entrepreneurial dad always used to call his mother on his drive home from work. 
  5. Create “Me Time.” I imagine that most people travel for work in order to meet other people, which can be intense. Personally, I have to balance extroversion and introversion. There’s nothing I enjoy more than some quiet “me time” after an extroverted day. And when I travel, I don’t have any social commitments and can spend an entire evening by myself without offending anyone. Admittingly, I’m usually quite tired after an intense day, but it is lovely to have some time to read, write, and just relax. If my location allows, I also love to go for a run or walk. From my Swedish perspective, this seems to be an unusual activity in some small American towns, as I’ve had people pull over in their cars to ask me if I’m ok or if I need any help, when I’m just trying to get some fresh air. I usually don’t have that happen in larger cities, and I really try to use that opportunity for an evening walk. As a bonus it’s a lovely way to discover a new town.
  6. Take over your hotel room. Having worked for one of the most luxurious hotel companies in the world, I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to hotel experiences. This can work against me when I’m in a hotel that’s not so amazing. So, I try to make sure I turn the room into “my room.” I bring essential oils, and spread out my yoga mat and books across the room (on the bed actually), turning it into a creative workshop. I also wear comfortable clothing and socks, as there is nothing that signalizes “cozy” more than that. And when I do end up in a spectacular place, like this week at The Dorchester on Park Lane in London, I really make sure to enjoy and notice the beautiful surroundings. 

If you travel extensively, or at all, I hope my advice is helpful to you and that you not only stay sane during your travels, but that you return home having had a peaceful, enjoyable and successful trip. For more on how to manage your time, turn into Victoria and her sister’s Roos&Shine podcast https://www.roosandshine.com/32-keep-calm-how-to-manage-your-time/

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