I travel a ton for business. I see all kinds: the business traveler, vacationer, commuter and many more unidentifiable types/kinds.
These are usually the business travelers. Their schedules are very tight, and the slightest delay or hiccup can bring on the huffy breath accompanied by the ever-present (and equally amusing) eye roll. I get it. You’re important, your meeting is important, and it is important that you make it there on time or …?
Or what, will the world end? Will someone die? Is your business or product so delicate that one missed meeting will crush you? If so, I have some advice for you later. But for now, back to travel.
The attitude of the stressed-out traveler can make everyone else’s life and travel experience a bit worse. From the airline staff to the mother with a crying baby, your attitude affects everyone around you. Is it possible to take a breath and bring your pulse down to a reasonable level and determine what your altered travel plans actually mean to your business? Maybe the delay is inconvenient, maybe it is detrimental – but it might also be an opportunity to slow down and come up with new and better ways to serve your customers.
I do my best to plan most of my business travel for one week of the month. It can be exhausting, but I like to get it out of the way. But coordinating a Joplin to Green Bay to Vermont to North Carolina trip to visit 3 different clients can prove challenging for the most experienced traveler. Weather delays and maintenance issues can cause a ripple effect that cannot be overcome. You could stress about it, or just roll with it and adjust.
This actually happened to me this week. I am writing this while flying from DC to Miami, and I will eventually arrive in Raleigh NC. The middle portion of my trip, the Vermont leg, had to be cancelled. There was no efficient way to make that happen after the previous delays. I could have become pissy and irritable, thrown a tantrum, demanded that everyone understand what this means to me, that this was unacceptable. But I just called my client in Vermont, explained what happened and scheduled a Skype call for the near future.
Never once did I lose my shit and get crabby with ANY of the personnel who were doing their very best to ensure that I would arrive safely at my destination. How ridiculous would that have been?
Please do not think that all vacationers are chill. Sometimes they are the most stressed. Really, think about it: they get one vacation per year. They have spent months meticulously planning for this trip. Everything has been perfectly calculated, timed and scheduled. One bump in the road can mean an entire year’s worth of planning gets flushed down the toilet, and they must wait another year to try again to have a good week off.
These travelers generally overpack, because they have no idea of what they can live without. They are dragging 40 to 60 pounds of luggage, kids, strollers, car seats and much more useless stuff through the airport and trying to wrangle kids and babies at the same time. Inevitable one of the young ‘uns will need to go potty three times before reaching the damn gate. You will say “damn” out loud, involuntarily, only to be admonished by a 4-year-old that you “used a cuss” or “said a bad word!”
Or maybe you and your husband dumped the kids and dogs on your in-laws and are escaping for a bit of rest and relaxation. But he was late calling a cab to the airport, and now you’re late and hoping that either the cabbie knows a super-secret route that gets you to the airport on time or that the flight was delayed and you might actually be on time. Because, by God, how often do you get rid of the kids long enough to even go to the toilet by yourself, let alone an entire week of having the bathroom door closed for the entire poop session? NEVER!
Back to your vacay.
You arrive for your holiday, all frazzled and exhausted. It takes 2 days to get your blood pressure under control.
OK, I have some travel tips for you.
Top 5 Tips for Stress-Free Business Travel
- Arrive the day before the meeting. This gives you some wiggle room if there are flight delays, and you’ll have plenty of time to relax and get in the right frame of mind for the most impactful and productive meeting.
- Have a backup plan. Can you get close enough to drive in? if so, where is the nearest alternative airport within driving distance?
- Download relaxing music or meditation audio to your phone. Take 5 minutes to refocus before losing it.
- Get a shoulder massage. If there is a place in your airport and your flight is delayed, take this time to relax for 20 minutes. Or you could stomp around the airport talking loudly on your phone to your assistant about how effed up this all is. Your choice.
- Check into a nice hotel and join the meeting by video chat. This is obviously not ideal, but when travel has failed you and left you half-way to your destination, what other choice do you have? Reschedule or Skype?
Top 10 Stress-Free Vacation Tips
- Take what you NEED, not everything you might need. Although it is possible that a snowstorm could roll up in Florida and a hoodie would make you look like the smartest guy there, it is unlikely, and you could always buy one IF that happens. Pack light. It’s okay to wear the same pair of shorts twice.
- Can you rent strollers and car seats with your rental car? If so, why bring them?
- Have everything packed the night before; don’t try to pack the day you’re leaving. This alone creates an elevated heart rate and leads to overpacking.
- Have your travel to the airport arranged. Be a drill sergeant about leaving on time. Put as much by the front door as possible. This also helps with overpacking.
- Take the kids and dogs to the sitters the evening before you travel. This will allow you to enjoy a peaceful evening of getting in the mood for your vacation.
- Play vacation music. If you’re heading somewhere tropical, play music that will put you in that mind space the evening before you go.
- Arrive at airport 2½ hours before your flight. If your flight is on a Saturday, make it 3 hours. Weekend travel is usually the busiest, and the security lines will be crazy.
- Remember to separate your travel-sized personal care items into a quart-sized baggie and have it easily accessible so you can remove from your bag if you are carrying it on.
- Make sure you have your identification in an easy-to-access pocket or purse compartment.
- Get a massage. If you arrive at the airport early and have some time on your hands, get a 20-minute massage before boarding your flight. Talk about starting out in the right frame of mind!
So, back to my question: what kind of traveler are you?
Could you make a few adjustments and be the kind of traveler who arrives on time and refreshed, with zero to very little stress?
I think so. It’s all about preparation and attitude.
I hope to see you in the airport getting a massage and smiling, because you’re gonna have a great meeting/vacation!
Robin Wilson is the co-owner of SCP Agency. She is a self-proclaimed social media guru and specializes in social marketing for auto dealerships. She has also been instrumental in teaching auto dealerships how to market through social media to their existing database and shows them how to make sure that they do not become victims of conquest marketing. She is a marketing coach to all and has become a leader in Facebook marketing strategies in the U.S.