I am excited this week to share that I have been selected as part of the Hilton Garden Inn (HGI) by “Bright On” team. This means that over the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing more blog articles and social media posts from me about how to work smart, eat well, sleep well, stay fit and, most importantly, how you can treat yourself as a busy working woman.
According to a survey done by Wakefield Research, more than 1 in 4 (26%) of women have purposely scheduled a business trip just to have time to themselves away from home.
In my previous corporate career, I traveled a lot and actually stayed at quite a few Hilton Garden Inn hotels in my prior corporate traveling days. I was constantly on the cross country flight route and actually started to get into a little routine. But let’s be real clear about work travel. It often SOUNDS better than it really is if you aren’t smart about it. There’s a lot of late nights, happy hour invitations, long meetings and a never-ending to-do list of emails waiting for you when you get back to the hotel room. Not to mention the jet lag and exhaustion that comes from changing time zones on an ongoing weekly basis.
Here was my work travel routine:
My normal route was from San Diego to Charlotte, South Carolina every Monday morning. I would check into my hotel at around 6pm. Then, I would hustle to find something to eat, prepare for my week, iron my clothes and be ready to go to sleep by 9:30pm. Except, the big problem was that since it was only 6:30pm in San Diego still, my body was just not ready to actually sleep. This left hours upon hours of me trying to sleep especially because I was a little nervous about the full day of meetings the next day as well.
Then, I would stay in Charleston for meetings with clients and visiting some of our actual production sites. Then, by Thursday or Friday, I would make my way back to the Charleston airport at 4:30am and fly back to San Diego. It was a very full week.
With happy hours, extremely long workdays and jet lag, how did I ever manage to keep my focus and productivity in a hotel room? Let’s dive into my top tips on how to stay sane, have fun and actually enjoy work travel. We’ll cover common problems and little improvements you can make to make work travel more rewarding and fun. We’ll also cover how to travel smart, eat smart and be healthy on the road.
17 Things Every Woman Should Know About Balancing Work Travel
1. Enjoy the perks.
You work hard and it is OK to enjoy your time in the hotel, eat great food and sleep with lots of pillows. You work hard so don’t be afraid to order room service or have a night out at your favorite restaurant alone with a good book. Who cares what other people think! I always tried to find the time to splurge on a bath or a glass of wine to decompress!
2. Make time to workout.
This is a must. The times I didn’t make time for my workout I would be miserable by the end of the week. Try to book a hotel with a great workout facility or go for a walk or run around the hotel. I usually chose to stick with the treadmill because of safety and because I often worked out late at night when it was dark.
3. Stay healthy.
Use anti-bacterial hand soap and wash your hands a lot. Keep Emergen-C with you at all times and do your best to not get sick! Make sure you stay hydrated as well and avoid too much caffeine.
4. Wear comfortable shoes.
You may have lots of walking to do, especially if you are running from work meetings straight to the airport. Invest in some comfortable (and cute) flats to throw in your carry-on bag.
5. Listen to your body.
Don’t feel bad saying no to late night drinks with co-workers. Take care of yourself and go to bed early to fight jet lag and sluggish mornings. If you’ve been going non-stop for a week and are feeling unwell, consider if you are really and truly interested in exploring, or whether you just feel you “have” to. A good rest can do wonders to reinvigorate yourself – and don’t forget you need to hit the ground running on Monday morning. Don’t overtire yourself out so much on the weekend that you’re a poor business traveler for the next week.
6. Nourish yourself for peak performance.
The better you feel the more energy you will have to be at peak performance. You won’t be lethargic or tired. You will have energy when you come back from the hotel or when you wake up. Everyone’s body is different so I am not telling you what to eat or drink, but I will just say that the times in my life that I have had the most energy are when I am the healthiest. Somehow when I was training for that marathon, I wasn’t tired, I was actually the most productive I have ever been in my life. Same with traveling. When I am taking care of my body while I travel, that is when I also do my best work.
7. You are what you eat.
This changed my outlook of food when I heard this. What are the words that describe the type of person and life you want to live while you are working and traveling. My words are full of life, energetic, inspiring, motivating and fulfilling. Now when I am struggling to figure out what to eat while traveling, I ask myself what foods on the menu are full of life, energetic, inspiring, motivating and fulfilling. It’s amazing how much easier the choice is!
8. Stay hydrated while working.
Keep water next to you always while you are working and on the go. You will never catch me without my water bottle. Staying hydrated will give you more energy to get through those long work meetings too.
9. Pamper yourself.
If you feel great, you will be more confident and happier. I know your reason for reading this blog is to become happier in your career and life so focus on taking care of yourself and being the best you can be to your body. That really is how you treat yourself with food and exercise. And why not see if your hotel has additional pampering services like spa treatments or manicures as well! If you ever deserve a reward for a job well done, then this is it!
10. Change your mindset if you are stressed.
Something I truly believe is that you have to treat your current job as your dream job to create the life you want. Do you know how many people would LOVE to have your job with all this fun travel? Isn’t this a role you always dreamed of having when you are back in college? Step back and really see all of the successes you have had in your career to make it to this point.
11. Get rid of your travel shoulds.
We all have so many shoulds, don’t we. But what if I asked you instead, “What do you want?”
This is one thing that I have really learned in my cross country road trip living a location independent work lifestyle. Every day I did what I wanted to do everyday instead of all of the housework, laundry, meetings and requests and so much more I felt like I should do. Everyone thought we were crazy because it was so outside the norm to leave San Diego, put everything in storage and go on a road trip to Iowa. But it was one of the best decisions ever because we got rid of our shoulds by going on a travel adventure and getting to know a new destination.
12. Have fun
The day we packed up and started driving, I literally dropped my to do list. I got rid of shoulds and started doing more of what made me happy that I really wanted to do like spending quality time with friends and family I haven’t seen in years and staying in random inns off the beaten path in North Dakota with my little family. So many adventures we had and it’s all because I started doing more of what I really wanted and having more fun with my work.
I am a better CEO, mother, wife and encourager to all of you as well. My creativity is through the roof. I am relaxed. I am happy. My only should is to take care of myself and my family the best I can. How simple is that. How can you have more fun while you travel?
13. Batch as if your life depends on it.
You have limited time while traveling so you absolutely must be as productive as possible! Batching is when you group similar tasks into blocks of time. During this time you have no distractions. Did you know that every time you are distracted, it takes 15 minutes to regain complete focus again? Examples are only looking at emails or social media at certain times of the day. Setting a timer, shutting off distractions and only working on your goals. Try to do this as much as possible while you are traveling. Set a timer and check off that to-do list and answer as many emails as possible!
14. If you are stressed, remember you are in control of your calendar.
You are in charge of your calendar, your calendar doesn’t control you. If work travel stresses you out, you don’t have to do it! Talk with your boss and there may be ways to work around it like holding virtual meetings or sending someone else in your place.
I had to have this conversation with my boss and client when I had a mandatory trip scheduled to New Orleans the week of my business school graduation. From day one, I said I couldn’t go and they would need to find someone else. They did and my co-worker who was picked had a complete blast. It really improved her confidence and skills in her role too so it was a big win-win for everyone. Me saying no opened up a big opportunity for her to walk into for her own career. Remember, you are 100% in control of your life and your calendar.
15. Make a morning ritual.
The biggest mistake that I see made over and over when traveling for work is waking up and checking email right away. I know I did this too when I was at my day job. It really ruined my entire day especially when I worked with people on the east coast who had been sending work emails for hours. No one should have to wake up like that!
Now my morning routine when traveling consists of journaling, meditating, listening to affirmations, reviewing my vision board and goals, reading, praying, and exercising. This has completely changed my life and my outlook on the day ahead. Wake up earlier.
16. Limit your priorities.
I recommend only focusing on ONE THING at a time to help with balancing your work and life. It’s time to make a list of everything you need to get done this week while you are traveling. Cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to do everything. Then, I want you to prioritize this list in order of importance.
17. Sleep As Much As You Can
People who sleep less than 8 hours are more prone to making mistakes, headaches, and falling into other distractions. Also be careful of waking up in the middle of your REM cycle, this is your sleep cycle that usually takes 90 minutes to fully cycle through. If your alarm wakes you up in the middle of this, you can feel sluggish the rest of the day. Try getting to bed and waking up around the same time each day (even on the weekends!).
Note: This post written in collaboration with Hilton Garden Inn.
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