Surviving Business Trips:
How to Combine Business with Pleasure
Copyright © 1998 Jennifer McCay. All rights reserved.
Business trips are notoriously stressful, from attempting to catch flights to sleeping in hotels to spending your evenings alone when you're used to being with friends and family. By the end of your jaunt -- across America, to Europe or Asia, or to any other place your company may need you to go -- you may wish that the trip you just made will be your last.
But there's no need to throw in the towel so soon. The most important thing to keep in mind is routine; that is, do your best to keep your life on the road as similar as usual to your home life. With help from the Internet and a little resourcefulness, you can be productive and comfortable in your temporary surroundings. The following suggestions can help you make the most of your visit.
1.) If you enjoy working out, try to get your company's travel coordinator to find a hotel for you that provides appropriate gym facilities. Look at Fit For Business for a listing of hotels that have good fitness programs. The site isn't yet complete, but it will eventually have a large database of fitness resources as well. The best thing this site offers is a Travel Club that will save you money on gym facilities around the world, even at health clubs and gyms in airports where you have a long layover.
If all of the rooms in the right hotels are booked up so you can't work out in a gym, pack small weights in your luggage, grab a pack of specialty rubber bands for working out when you're at your local health product store, turn on your portable CD player, and work out to your favorite tunes in the privacy of your hotel room. Working out reduces stress, so you'll be in a better frame of mind the next day.
2.) Are you a country music fan? Is going to the opera your favorite pastime? Do you love musicals? Look at the City.Net site by Excite to find out exactly what kind of musical events your destination has to offer. Keep in mind that many theaters and concert halls in locations all over the world offer last-minute tickets to various cultural events, and you could be the lucky person who gets to see a hit play while in, say, Manhattan. In Hamburg, Germany, the state opera house releases leftover tickets half an hour before the curtain goes up, at significantly reduced rates, saving you up to 75 percent of the original ticket price! Check with the theaters in the area in which you'll be staying, as this is a common policy in theaters around the globe.
On the same note, if you're a sports lover, try to make it to a sporting event while traveling, or visit the local art museum if you're obsessed with Matisse or Rodin. Making your trip fun can keep you less stressed.
3.) Are your kids bored at home during summer vacation? Is your spouse or significant other looking for an excuse to a week off? You might consider taking your family with you to the location of your business trip. Often you can save money by renting a car instead of flying, so you don't have to spend more on transportation, and the hotel room is paid for, at least in part, by your company. City.Net will help you decide if the city you'll be in will be worth the trip, letting you know what sights there are to be seen. The rest of your family can amuse themselves during the day, and when you're finished working in the afternoon, you can join them. Spending time with your family after a hard day's work can be very soothing and make your trip much more like a vacation and less like hard work.
Not married or involved? Invite a friend to come along, and spend time in the evenings together. If you have friends in the area, see if they have time to visit you. (The other way around -- you visiting them -- can be more stressful than staying at the hotel alone if you don't know your way around town fairly well.) Being around someone whose company you enjoy can make a huge difference at the end of a long day's work.
4.) While traveling, catch a movie you've been dying to see. Whether it's the latest Spielberg film or the romantic comedy that your husband refuses to see, check local listings (sometimes found on City.Net and other local sites), and look at the International Movie Database to find out about the movies currently playing. The site offers ranking and rating information, a list of credits, a brief synopsis, and great quotes from movies that have been out for a while. The International Movie Database also has information on older movies, so if you're watching an old film and can't remember its name but know the name of one of the actors, you can enter the name in the search engine and find out all about that actor's previous film credits. This site is good for when you're at home as well.
5.) What about your meals? Are you always having to eat at chain restaurants because you don't know what's good in the city you're visiting? Do you crave Russian food or fine pastries when you leave your hometown? Check out the Fodor's Restaurant Index for suggestions of good restaurants in many metropolitan areas around the world. The Fodor's main site is excellent for other travel needs. Restaurant Row boasts that it has 100,000 restaurants in its database, so you can also find a lot of information there.
If you want to go the chain restaurant route and it's vegetarian food that you're seeking, go to the Vegetarian Pages to find out what kind of restaurants are available in particular geographic areas. Click on "Location" to see the types of vegetarian food options that various chain restaurants have available. The information appears thorough for each of the restaurants with which I am familiar, and it can be a real help.
Do you eat only kosher food? Go to Shamash, the Jewish Internet Consortium's Kosher Food Database, and enter a location. The search engine will bring up listings of kosher restaurants, giving first-hand information on the quality of the food and service, and mentions the name of the authority in charge of maintaining food purity. You also have a choice between meat and dairy restaurants.
6.) Do you call your parents regularly? Do you feel bad about leaving your kids at home while you're away? Make a point to set aside time to call them at a certain time every day if at all possible. (For example, a call before bedtime can be a great way to "tuck in" your children at night.) The time you'll spend on the phone with your loved ones will make you feel reassured and more like it's just another work day, and your family in turn will feel less stressed. There's no need, after all, for more stress than the traveling and new location already brings while you're on the road.
7.) Last, but not least, don't push yourself too hard. If you're tired after a long day's work, go to your hotel room, take a warm bath, change into comfortable clothes, turn on the television, and order the best meal from room service that your company will pay for. If you're not usually very active, don't decide to start a workout plan while away on business.
Remember that it will only be a few short days before you return home, and do your best to relax while on the road. Consult Web sites like Business Travel at the Mining Company for tips on planning your trip and making the most of frequent travel. Be informed before you go, so you can make things less traumatic while you're away from home.
Enjoy your trip!
Jennifer McCay is an American freelance writer working out of Hamburg, Germany. She is currently finishing an M.A. in English, and can be reached at email@example.com.