NOTE from Phil: What follows is a post from my good friend and fellow Milwaukee small business owner Jim Raffel. Jim travels a LOT for business, so his insights are super helpful for me, and I expect will be for you too!
Not all aspects of traveling for business are nearly as glamorous as some folks imagine. A client dinner at a five-star restaurant can be great, but that comes at the end of a long day filled with meetings and other work. Add to that the need to make time for a routine of healthy eating and exercise to maintain a high energy level and you quickly realize that work on the road is not a vacation.
Because it’s a business trip, the first and foremost priorities are the business purposes of your trip. That could be attending a trade show, conference or client meeting. It’s for this work that you want to maintain a high energy level. Clients expect you to be at your best and that can be hard to maintain when you are on the road.
However, there is more to the “work comes first” story. When you travel, the rest of your work does not go away. Tasks such as checking email, followup phone calls and writing blog posts or email campaigns don’t go away just because you are traveling. Worse yet, if you ignore these tasks you’ll pay the price later. If you ignore your normal work, you’re more likely to let down or disappoint some clients and you’ll just end up with more work when you get back to your home base.
Here are some guidelines you can use to build your own maintenance program to maintain a high energy level when you are on the road.
After 25 years of business travel, I can tell you there are certain things I would advise a new business traveler to never do without. While on the surface this list of amenities may come off as snobby, the reality is that they make you more efficient and less exhausted when you travel.
Acquiring the items in the list above will make it far easier to find time to maintain the routines of healthy eating and exercise while you travel. Without the right fuel in your body and some kind of exercise each day it’s almost impossible to maintain a high level of energy.
When it comes to exercise, I recommend developing a body weight only exercise routine. This will be a short workout you can do each day in your hotel room (or at home) without the need for special equipment. This type of exercise routine also saves you the time and trouble of heading off to the exercise room every day on the road. For days when you have more time, it still makes sense to pick a hotel family known to have quality workout facilities. Also, don’t miss opportunities for light exercise throughout the day. Take the stairs and not the escalator or elevator. Light physical exercise like this increases your energy level.
Yes, eating healthy when you travel can be tricky, but not impossible. First, bring some healthy snacks such as trail mix along with you. Sometimes you just need to take the edge off your hunger to make it to the next meal. It’s always better to do that with a healthy snack rather than the last donut still by the coffee pot at 3 p.m. Also, skip the coffee and drink more water than you drink at home. Travel is a dehydrating activity. When you can’t find something healthy on the menu just remember to eat smaller portions. You don’t need to finish the entire hamburger or order of fries. Try eating just half.
Another ritual I have is packing light. I want my bag to be light and easy to move around on my own. The quicker you can get that bag to your room on your own and unpacked, the more time you have for work and energy boosting activities. When you are on a multi-city tour, plan ahead and pack your bag in “outfits.” This allows you to pull out just what you need in each city. Having to unpack and re-pack for quick overnight stops takes time away that you need for other activities.
Yes, the five-star dinners and drinks with colleagues will happen but don’t forget that the next day you have meetings, trade shows, etc. Email has to be answered and blog posts need to be written. Social media does not go away. Enjoy that nice dinner and have a drink or two but if maintaining a high energy level is your goal, try to eat healthy, save time for exercise and, above all, get plenty of rest.
Jim Raffel is a businessman and content creator who after a couple decades of business travel co-founded Business Travel Exclusive (BTE) to help business travelers by sharing his tips and tricks for life on the road. Be sure to visit the site and signup for the free email newsletter to receive more content like this blog post.