5 Tips to Deal With the Stress of Travel


5 Tips to Deal With the Stress of Travel

I love to travel, and I’ll use any excuse to get on a plane.

So, if there’s an interesting conference in an overseas location or a speaking opportunity I’ll be itching to go, and even better when I have clients in far-flung locations around the world. And the sad thing is, it doesn’t even have to be an exotic location, although those are more interesting and fun.

Over the years, I’ve travelled frequently for both business and pleasure, and I’ve developed my five must do’s to reduce stress for any trip I take, which are:

1. Arrive at the airport well before your departure time. I got caught out once arriving at a US airport for a domestic flight to Los Angeles with a connecting international flight back to Australia.

We arrived about an hour or so before the flight to find a very long queue for the check-in machines. By the time we got to them, it was just under an hour before we would travel, and we were told that because we were flying Internationally, we had to check in an hour and a half before the domestic flight. 

To aggravate the stress levels in this instance, we were travelling on a points booking, and if we didn’t make the connection, the next available points booking was three weeks later. It cost us the price of one-way tickets to Los Angeles on another airline to make the connection.

2. No matter what time the flight is, get as much sleep on it as possible. Of course, you have to be able to sleep on a plane, which I’ve trained myself to do.

I firmly believe that if you tell yourself in advance of getting on the flight that you’ll be able to catch up on sleep, and actively set yourself up to do so even when couped up in an economy seat, sleep is very do-able.

Not only that but if you’re like most people I know, you’ll be working long hours and short-changing your sleep in the week or so leading up to the trip so you’ll be exhausted when you get on the plane which makes sleep an inevitability if you allow yourself to sleep.

3. Don’t plan to work on the flight. Use the time to switch off completely, get the sleep mentioned above, and allow yourself the luxury of thinking about where you’re going, what you’re going to learn at the conference and who you may meet.

4. Plan your trip to arrive early at your destination, like a couple of days early. I learnt the value of this while growing up in Canada and travelling in the winter in more recent years.

You have to allow for snow storms, de-icing of planes and airport closures which will completely disrupt your plans. 

The habit of arriving early has other travel benefits, like giving you a couple of days to get into the new time zone and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the conference. 

I was recently at a conference in Miami where one of the attendees had flown in from Australia at 11 pm the night before it started. He was walking around like a zombie for the first couple of days, and I doubt that he would have learned much let alone remember what was covered.

And the other benefit is it allows for flight cancellations.

Two days ago, the night before my flight to Los Angeles I got the message that the flight had been cancelled. A phone call to the airline and rather than flying all around the world with multiple stops to get me there many hours later, I opted to travel on the same flights the next day. And I could do that without stress as I had planned on arriving three days before the event. 

5. Start thinking in the local time of where you’re going as soon as you get on the plane and don’t go to bed until at least 6 pm local time when you arrive. Now this can be a challenge when you arrive at 6 am local time, and all you want to do is lie down and sleep, but I challenge you to keep awake.

Find something to do to keep you active for the day and only allow yourself to sleep after 6 pm. By then you will be well and truly ready for a good nights’ sleep, and you’ll wake up refreshed with your body clock set for the local time zone.

Next time you’re heading for a conference, make sure you get the most out of it by applying the above tips to eliminate or at least minimise your stress levels before, during, and after you travel.

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