SmartCompany, August 9, 2017
Travelling for business sounds so glamorous – but the well-journeyed business owner knows it can be fraught with long periods of unproductive work time, bad sleep patterns and stress.
According to a recent SmartCompany reader survey 85 per cent of the small business community fly for business during the year – it is therefore imperative that your travel time is well spent without any cost to your health.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to make any business trip work for your business and your personal wellbeing – welcome to the concept of bleisure: the combination of business and pleasure.
Here are our top tips to help you transition from a business traveller to a seasoned ‘bleisure seeker’. You’ll thank us for it!
1 Eat well on the run
Entrepreneurs need energy, focus and stamina – and that starts with self-care.
When you’re on the road it’s easy to slip into the bad habit of missing meals, or grabbing a snack from the nearest fast food chain. However, it is these little slips that contribute to fatigue when travelling for business.
Food has a significant impact on your body and brain. Consider grabbing a banana over a doughnut – your body will thank you for it, and it will give you the energy to think and perform at your best.
It’s also essential to stay hydrated and keep moving, particularly after long periods in the air.
When traveling for business it’s not uncommon for people to be spending the bulk of their time in a meeting room. Get up and move around. Where possible, walk to meetings. It’s not only beneficial for your health, but will also save you money.
2 Stay and play
Managing stress is crucial to your success and growth. A great way to manage stress is to extend your trip, whether it’s an overnight stop or a few extra days to relax or sightsee.
Flying in and out in one day can cause fatigue and stress that can be hard to overcome in a working week. By extending your stay you create more time after hours for networking and socialising with business contacts.
In fact, connecting with others is great for your mental health and wellbeing, with statistics indicating that socialising can decrease the risk of dementia and improve your overall mood and wellbeing.
3 Sleep, glorious sleep
Not getting enough sleep is a surefire way to lose concentration, be unorganised at meetings and make bad decisions.
A recent Sleep Health Foundation study found 45 per cent of respondents suffered from inadequate sleep, leaving them vulnerable to making errors (29 per cent), missing work (17 per cent ) and even falling asleep on the job (17 per cent).
The National Sleep Foundation states that the average adult needs between seven to nine hours of sleep a day. This time is essential to allow the brain to reset, process information and assist in memory retention.
For the “bleisure seeker” that means making sure you give yourself enough pillow time, and turning off your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. For some, help might be found in ear plugs, eye masks, meditation and/or essential oils.
4 Lock in time for leisure
It can be tricky to cast aside the guilts when on a work trip to book a massage, a day trip or even a swim in the hotel pool. However, this is the chance to make the most of those corporate travel rates, and get in a bit of much-deserved downtime.
For some, this may mean an extended stay, for others it may simply mean making sure you take some time to see more than the inside of an airport when you’re on your business trip.
If you’re particularly weighed down by guilt at taking out some me-time make sure you pre-book some activities before you go – that way you won’t be able to get out of them!
Research the city you’re visiting and find something that makes it relevant to you. Perhaps you want to try the best sushi in each city, or maybe you want to run 5km on every city’s trail. Whatever your goal, set aside time to achieve it and enjoy the wellbeing rewards you will get as a result.
5 Watch the clock
Being away ‘for work’ might tempt you to keep answering emails until midnight but it’s important to step away from the laptop, and try and maintain a routine for yourself.
Make sure you make time for exercise, eating well and – where possible – keep your work day to your usual hours.
It’s important that you don’t spend all your “idle” time working. Listen to that podcast, do those stretches, read that book. Make sure you take some time for you.
6 Adopt the buddy system
According to the SmartCompany survey, just eight per cent of readers take their spouses with them on work trips, but work trips can be the ideal opportunity for couples to relax together.
If it’s possible for you to align your schedule with your spouse or a friend you have the perfect opportunity to create a mini break out of a work trip. Can’t align schedules? What about extending that trip so you can meet together for some much-needed relaxation?
Traveling for business doesn’t need to be all about work. Enjoy it!