3 Ways to Put Yourself First on a Business Trip

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Frequent work travel takes its toll.

The jet-setting lifestyle may seem the pinnacle of glamour, but many who regularly travel for work would agree, the high life isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Research into business travel confirms that, actually, it’s more like your normal work schedule with sleep deprivation and dehydration thrown in: business travellers lose an average of 6.8 hours sleep on a business trip according to this report – and that’s without the additional stress of early airport commutes and the exhaustion of time-zone changes.

You can make the trip less stress and more fun (have you considered taking a bleisure trip, for example?), but it’s imperative that you put your health first. Here are a few ways to stave off illness, making your jaunt all the more worthwhile.

Enforce switch-off rules

The enduring problem with business trips is that changes in time zones and keeping strange hours means you’re tempted to stay connected to your email for a lot longer than you would if you were behind your desk. Don’t forget that spending eight hours on a plane to get to your destination is, in fact, work – so give yourself a break. Enforce a time limit to the amount of hours you’ve spent online, or count how many hours of work you’ve already put in for the day. After that, no excuses: it’s time to switch off and get some shut eye. (Noise cancelling headphones are a must, insists Flight Centre Business Travel’s manager Claire O’Mahony).

Up your vitamins

Spending hours in air-conditioned hotels, meetings rooms and on aeroplanes is likely to wreak havoc with your immune system. Did you know that all that business travel can make you age faster, impair your memory and, the increased activity and stress of commuting to varied places in a hurry “can even switch off genes that are linked to the immune system.” You’re also less likely to get the nutrients you need while eating in-flight food that’s devoid of freshness. Nip illness in the bud and take a supplement in the lead up to your trip, as well as throughout, and also once you make it home – the body can take up to 11 days to get back to normal after a trans-meridian flight.

Insist on a doona day

If you can’t squeeze in a little extra time during your trip for yourself (bleisure trip, anyone?), it might be worth insisting on a doona day to help cushion any residual exhaustion you’re likely to feel after a long-haul work trip. That sleep debt we mentioned doesn’t help when you’re coming straight off a plane and into the office, so why not pitch a work-from-bed day where the extra kip you’ll get from not commuting could help build you back up? If your boss is resistant, remind them of how much a sick day would cost the company – more than one day from the comfort of your doona, that’s for sure.

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