For many professionals, business travel is an unavoidable part of the job. Salespeople, executives, consultants, account managers regularly hit the road to meet with clients, drum up new business, train staff, and keep operations running smoothly.
While the exciting lifestyle of a "road warrior" may seem glamorous initially, frequent business travel can take a toll over time if you don't practice self-care and maintain balance. Use these tips to avoid fatigue and burnout when you travel extensively for work.
Incorporate Buffer Days Between Trips
One of the biggest causes of travel burnout is taking back-to-back trips without breaks in between. Even if you love traveling, constantly being "on the road" can leave you exhausted. Try to avoid booking trips without at least a few days of downtime in between when possible.
Use the time at home to catch up on sleep, see friends and family, run errands, and engage in hobbies and self-care activities. The extra time allows you to recover and avoid the cumulative effects of travel fatigue.
Get Plenty of Rest During Trips
Make rest a priority whenever traveling for business. Take red-eye flights only when absolutely necessary, and try to book morning flights when possible so you have the afternoon for recovery.
Choose hotels with comfortable beds, blackout curtains, and minimal ambient noise so you can get quality sleep at night. Avoid the temptation to socialize late into the evening with colleagues. Prioritize 7-8 hours of shut-eye per night.
Finally, take advantage of opportunities to nap and recharge during the day, like on long flights or car rides.
Don't let your exercise routine lapse when traveling. Maintaining physical activity is crucial for combating stress and fatigue. Scope out the fitness center location and hours at your hotel in advance so you can incorporate workouts into your itinerary.
Pack exercise clothes and shoes even for short trips, and look for opportunities like walking meetings or taking the stairs. Download apps like Aaptiv that provide audio coaching for working out in hotel rooms. Staying active on the road will help you avoid burnout.
Eat Nutritious Meals
Traveling full-time often means eating a less healthy diet. Airport and hotel restaurant food tends to be high in fat, sodium, and calories. But fueling your body properly helps sustain energy levels.
Whenever possible, seek out healthier fare like salads, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Grocery store runs can provide nutritious options you can keep in your hotel mini fridge. Be mindful of portion sizes as well.
Make smart dietary choices a key part of thriving on the road.
Unplug From Work in the Evenings
It can be tempting to continue working into the evening during business trips. But giving your mind a break is essential for avoiding fatigue. Make it a policy to unplug after dinner when traveling.
Catch up with family at home, hit the hotel gym, read, explore the local area, or engage in other leisure activities. Disconnecting at night allows you to recharge so you can be focused and productive the next workday.
Minimize Business Travel Where Possible
While some trips will always be unavoidable, look for opportunities to cut back on travel that doesn't clearly warrant an in-person visit. Consider whether videoconferencing could achieve the same purpose for certain meetings and appointments.
Consolidate trips when feasible to avoid criss-crossing the country as much. Being more selective about required travel can help minimize fatigue. Discuss ways to scale back trips that may not have a sufficient return on time invested with your manager.
Outsmart Jet Lag
For frequent long-haul travelers, jet lag can intensify exhaustion. Follow best practices to get your body's internal clock adjusted faster when traveling between time zones.
Begin shifting sleep times in the days leading up to a trip. Hydrate thoroughly during flights. Strategically, time exposures to sunlight, meals, and activity upon arrival.
Melatonin supplements can also help reset your circadian rhythm. The less you contend with jet lag, the less worn out you'll feel.
Focus on Your Mental Health
Long stints of travel are draining not just physically but mentally as well. Be proactive about caring for your mental health on the road. Stay connected with loved ones back home for emotional support.
Maintain self-care rituals like journaling, deep breathing and meditation. Make time for enjoyable activities that relieve stress, whether it's getting a massage, listening to a podcast or exploring a new museum.
Don't neglect your mental well-being - it's vital for avoiding traveler's fatigue.
Set Boundaries Around Availability
While companies may expect accessibility 24/7 when their employees travel, maintain reasonable boundaries around your availability during trips.
Handle urgent issues and requests, but set expectations that you will only reply to emails at some hours. Turn on your email autoresponder to manage expectations.
Boundaries ensure you don't burn yourself out trying to be constantly "on" for work while on the road.
To offset frequent business travel, prioritize periodic personal getaways dedicated solely to relaxation and rejuvenation. Whether it's a long weekend at the beach, a trip to the spa, or two weeks sailing in Greece, build opportunities to detach entirely from work and recharge your batteries.
You deserve quality vacation time just as much as colleagues who don't travel for their jobs. Getaway vacations help maintain balance and prevent burnout.
Business travel comes with inherent fatigue, especially for those on the road constantly. Prioritizing sleep, diet, exercise and mental health can help you operate at your best despite a heavy travel schedule.
Set boundaries, take real vacations, and avoid back-to-back trips whenever you can. You can thrive as a road warrior with the right self-care strategies while avoiding exhaustion and burnout.