Traveling takes a toll on the body—but traveling for business takes it to a whole other level. Many studies show that extended business travel can lead to anxiety, depression and even chronic illness. So why do so many people travel for business? For some, it’s unavoidable in their professional career. For others, it’s a chance to ditch the cubicle, offering new and different experiences. No matter how often you travel for business, it’s important to make sure you’re leading a healthy and balanced life along the way.
I was once a regular roadwarrior. Traveling four days of the week, I thought it was the best way to support my family. However, I didn’t realize how it was affecting them on a broader scale. It wasn’t until I was home, after being away for seven weeks in a row, that my six year old son looked up at me and asked, “When are you going to spend time with me?”. In that moment I understood the effects of my nonstop roadwarrior schedule. Ultimately, I decided to find a different position that provided the work/life balance I needed for my family.
Now, I’m not telling you to go out and quit your job. Yet, as we end the year and look hopefully towards the next, it’s important to take a moment and reflect on our lifestyle and ways to increase satisfaction. For most business travelers, this includes finding a healthier work/life balance. Finding simple, yet effective ways to stay balanced can mean all the difference while on the road.
Ways to achieve a healthy work/life balance as a business traveler
- Learn how to stay productive while traveling. Sometimes the stress of falling behind at the office while traveling leads to additional anxiety. Learn how to stay on top of things or focus on things you can control while traveling for work.
- Find a healthy outlet. Exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there. Given that the average business traveler also has heightened anxiety, exercise is a win/win. Whether it’s using the hotel gym, running outside, practicing yoga, or finding a gym in the area, there are many options to staying fit and centered while away on business.
- Stick to a schedule. If you run every morning at 7am, continue to do so while on the road. Same goes for connecting with family. Try calling them at the same time every night. For example, you could plan on eating dinner together, though you are in different cities.
- Schedule downtime. Though it sometimes sounds impossible while on the road, it’s ok to take time for yourself after a long day. If you burn out early, you likely won’t be as efficient or productive by the end of the trip. Plus, you’ll likely get home cranky and tired, ultimately making it harder to readjust.
- Plan one enjoyable thing every week. Business trips are typically jam packed, but squirrel away some time to do something fun. Go sightseeing, try a local restaurant, or go shopping. Or if you’re home, plan a fun date night or activity with the kids.
- Delegate. You won’t always be able to get everything done by yourself. Professionally, consider if any tasks can be managed by a co-worker while you’re out. Personally, consider tasks that you don’t particularly enjoy doing and take up your time. For example, hire a cleaning company. You’ll spend time with your family or friends while you’re home, instead of cleaning the bathroom. Other apps are available for an assortment of tasks. Try task rabbit for small home improvement jobs, or get your groceries easily delivered to your doorstep.
- Turn your business trip into a bleisure trip. Take advantage of your business trip and tack on a few personal days before flying back home. Your company should still pay for the return flight. Consider it a free plane ride for an extended weekend!
- Use your vacation time. Did you know that most Americans don’t take their PTO time? It turns out that we as a nation leave 429 million unused PTO days on the table every year! Even more disconcerting is that taking a vacation is proven to be good for your health and increases productivity when you return.
Maintaining a healthy work/life balance as a business traveler can sometimes feel impossible. It takes hard, consistent efforts to achieve it, but in the end you’ll find yourself enjoying the time you are at home, and living in the moment while away.