As I write this, I’m cozily nestled in seat 28C on a 6:00am flight to Atlanta, listening to my “Travel Chill” playlist. As a professional speaker, being on the road is a part of my business, and this morning is no different. Whether you are like me and travel regularly for your work or you get to enjoy the convenience of air travel solely for pleasure, there are certain actions you can mindfully take to make your time away from home as pleasant as possible.
Before the Trip
Thoughtful planning and preparation are absolutely essential when traveling. When you make your plans, make sure you take the time to figure out the best flights and seat assignments. You don’t want to get stuck between Joe ToePicker and Suzie Gabfest! It’s also wise to be overly conservative with connection times too. One of the most challenging aspects of traveling is the sweaty 100-yard dash from one gate to another when delays hit (I’m talkin’ to you, O’Hare). Don’t sacrifice your sanity to save 20 bucks and 20 minutes. Even if you have to get up at a quarter-to-nothing like I did this morning, take the earliest flight you can. There’s more room in the overhead bins, and most people are too darned tired to get crabby yet.
During the Trip
The more self-sufficient you are, the smoother your trip will be. I’m a total packrat in my carry-on bag. I’ve got cheese sticks, nuts, and apple slices for when the hunger pangs hit. (It’s a lot easier to keep the extra pounds away if you simply bring as much healthy food as possible; Cinnabon is the Devil’s Workshop.) I arm myself with some upbeat tunes on my phone, a soft pashmina scarf that doubles as a blankey, and fuzzy socks to put on after takeoff. I even like to wear a pageboy cap to give me a little bit more protection from all of the wackadoo energy that swirls around airports, shuttles and hotels.
(While there is much to be said for inviting conversations with strangers – especially if you are in sales – I have found over the years that I am willing to let go of any possible new business to fully enjoy my travel time in peace. I’d rather listen to Jason Mraz in my earbuds than get stuck in a conversation with someone who wants to regale me with details of their latest polyp for two-and-a-half hours, but that’s just me.)
On the plane itself, consider going analog and putting your smartphone or laptop away, at least for work stuff. By unplugging from all digital input, your mind gets a much-needed rest. The rumble of jet engines is the perfect backdrop to sneak in some meditation! Sometimes I keep my earbuds in without any music playing just so I can have a big chunk of quiet time to dream, create, imagine, breathe, savor, prepare, and otherwise take a mini-vacation. Or, better yet, dust off one of those revolutionary information dissemination devices…what do they call them…let’s see…oh yeah, a B.O.O.K. They’re amazing.
At the hotel, make sure you take time every day to move your body. I like to use the fitness center or take a dip in the pool, if possible. At bare minimum, do some gentle stretching in your room to keep those muscles loose and your digestion functioning optimally. If you are a yoga-addict like me, you can bring your own folding travel mat that fits right in your suitcase. A few molasses-slow forward bends and spinal twists can make you feel right as rain for the rest of the day. And don’t forget to take a nice, hot bath infused with a few drops of essential oils at night. (Guys, baths are for you too. It’s not just a chick thing.) I even throw in a little Bluetooth speaker into my suitcase so I can listen to my spa music while soaking my stress away.
After the Trip
As soon as you get home – and I mean as SOON as you get home – unpack your suitcase completely. I know it’s a hassle and you are probably exhausted. However, I can promise you that you will feel so much better when you get your dirty clothes into the hamper, shoes back in the rack, and toiletry bag returned to the bathroom cabinet. You will feel more grounded, centered, and relaxed if you invest the time on the front end instead of seeing your unkempt suitcase from a week ago silently mocking you. Get the tunes cranking and make it a goal to stow the empty suitcase in its original, locked position in the closet as quickly as possible. Before you know it, your travel woes will be in the rearview mirror and you’ll be ready to resume your regularly-scheduled life.
Yes, there are many uncontrollable variables when traveling (Visit the hilarious Passenger Shaming Facebook page if you ever doubt it!) But, if you make mindful choices before, during and after your journey, you will find yourself to be more productive, healthier and, most importantly, happier.
Theresa Rose is a business motivational speaker, award-winning author and high-value consultant who helps organizations and their teams create meaningful connections and creative cultures. For more information, visit TheresaRose.com.