Business travel is back on the rise, which means that whether you were a frequent flyer or just an occasional out-of-towner, you're likely going to be hitting the road again. According to the U.S. Travel Association, companies are planning to spend more money on both domestic and international travel through 2025. This means roads, airplanes, and hotels are filling up.
Although meeting face-to-face is an important aspect of conducting business, business travel can add more stress to an already busy working life—or workday, for that matter. You have to manage transportation, navigate an unfamiliar city, and probably fit in other work deadlines along the way. All of those elements can zap the joy out of travel and even lower your productivity.
It doesn't have to be that way. Bounce put together a list of ways to tackle some of the most stressful aspects of business travel. Test them out next time you're on a work trip and see if they make the journey more enjoyable.
Keep in mind that as you travel, COVID-19-related restrictions may be in place. Whether you're on an airplane, at a conference, or in a hotel lobby, be sure to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel guidelines, as well as those for your airline and destination, before you travel.
Air travel plunged during the pandemic, but now the Transportation Security Administration is screening around 2 million passengers every day. With that many people going through security, getting to your airport terminal early means you have plenty of time to get through security without having to stress about missing your flight.
Plus, if you get through security and have time to kill before your flight, you can check out your airport's amenities. There may be a nice café or full-service restaurant in your terminal where you can get away from the crowd and enjoy a meal. Some airports such as Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport have yoga rooms where you can relax, practice, or meditate. Others, like Dubai International Airport and Singapore's Changi Airport, have gardens where you can sit and decompress with nature.
Traveling for work doesn't mean you have to be on the clock 24/7. Keep in mind you're not home doing chores after work and spend that time doing something fun instead. Look for parks near your hotel where you can take a walk and look at public art. If you're in a city, visit a local landmark or museum and see something distinctive rather than a cookie-cutter hotel or meeting room. Look for a local restaurant or well-known store where you can stop in and get a feel for where you are.
Although you may not have a ton of time to play tourist while you're traveling, taking even just an hour to discover something unique about the place you're visiting can help you unwind.
If work travel stress manifests itself physically for you—be it stress headaches or back pain—try to book a hotel with amenities you can use to help ease you during your stay. Some hotels have their own spas or wellness facilities; if not, look for a local business where you can indulge in a spa treatment to help you relax. Getting a massage can also reduce stress, ease pain, and lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
Another activity that not only provides good physical exercise but can also improve your mood and help you sleep better is swimming. Look for a hotel that offers a pool—but if yours doesn't, ask your hotel's concierge if they know of a local pool where you can do a few laps.
Business travel can easily disrupt your schedule, but it's important to maintain some sort of exercise regimen during your stay to make sure you stay active. A 2021 Emory University study found the risk of obesity was higher in those who travel often for work, so it's important to eat right and exercise, especially on the road. Exercise abounds with mental health benefits that can keep stress at bay, help you sleep better, and think more clearly.
Make sure to pack some workout clothes and take time to hit the gym to get in some cardio or weightlifting during your stay. No gym at your hotel? No problem. You can do bodyweight workouts in your hotel room that can give you the same benefits.
While occasional traveling for work can be a moderate disruption to your regular schedule, true road warriors can struggle with maintaining a healthy balance. A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found those who travel for work at least 21 nights per month were more likely to report health issues such as smoking, overconsuming alcohol, and sleep problems.
Check with your employer to see if your company offers any help for extensive travel situations. Perhaps they offer a preset per diem for food or drink spending. This can help you better budget how much you eat and drink, and it makes an expense report a lot less stressful to complete.
If you're in the airport all the time, your company may also be willing to pay for an airline lounge membership, which would give you a quiet, stress-free place to wait, get work done, and recharge before your upcoming flight. Many companies also allow you to keep the airline miles and hotel points you accumulate, which can help pay for a much-deserved getaway where you can really rest and relax.
This story originally appeared on Bounce and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.