Staying Fit On The Road: 5 Bad Business Travel Habits to Break

21 February 2017

There's no doubt that regular business travel can come with a certain set of perks. From frequent flyer status to exploring new destinations, each trip is an opportunity to connect with clients and co-workers while broadening personal and professional horizons. Though, while you're on the road embracing the responsibility that comes with representing your company, it's also easy to fall into a routine that can be detrimental to your health and your professional life. Avoid being overworked and overstressed. Instead, cut these bad habits out of your business travel routine...

A busy day planner page Overbooking your schedule when travelling for work can lead to unneeded stress

1. Overloading your Schedule

Business travel schedules are often packed to the brim as you attempt to get the more bang for your travel buck. Along with staying on top of your daily work responsibilities, a full day of back-to-back meetings can often be followed by a night of client catch-ups. Next thing you know, you're burnout and feeling the pressure.

Before you hit the road, have a realistic look at your schedule to make sure you're not taking on more than you can handle. While there is bound to be some pressure associated with being away from your desk, ensure you plan effectively and speak with your supervisor/colleagues about covering daily tasks where needed so you're not overloaded with work.

On the personal front, don't be afraid to schedule some time for yourself. Whether it's a night out for a solo dinner, a morning jog or an afternoon walk to explore your destination, injecting this personal time allows you to decompress, rest your mind and refocus your attention.  

A man in an airport security line Make sure you're prepared for the security line to get through quicker and avoid holding up your fellow passengers

2. Being Unprepared in the Airport Security Line

We've all had that last minute rush to the airport to catch a flight, desperately trying to get to the gate before it closes only to get caught up in the security line behind someone that's completely unprepared. Don't be that person.

Whether it's your first trip to airport security or your 100th, make sure you hone your approach to ensure a seamless pass. To help, here are a few pointers to consider:

  • Wear shoes that can easily slip on and off
  • Minimise accessories and only carry the essentials (keys and wallet) in your pockets
  • If needed, have your passport and other travel documents ready to hand over to security officers
  • Pack your laptop in an easy to access pocket and pull it out ahead of getting to the line
  • Follow all instructions from security officers
  • Once you've cleared the metal detectors and picked up your things, move clear of the security area to get your stuff together.
A woman eating a burger and fries while working Fast food is often the go-to for business travellers, but eating unhealthy every day can leave you feeling tired

3. Unhealthy Eating and Drinking

All too often, travelling for work means eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also often means a few cocktails here and there (whether it's hosting clients or taking the edge off). Unfortunately, it's all too easy to overindulge, which can lead to feeling tired and sluggish. It also makes handling the pressures of business travel that much worse. 

Breaking this habit can be a little trickier than others on this list as eating options can be somewhat limited when travelling. If possible, choose a hotel room that offers a kitchenette. A full kitchenette may not be available, but most rooms will offer at least a mini refrigerator and microwave. This will do in a pinch, allowing you the flexibility to go grocery shopping and prepare your meals rather than eating out every night. It's also a great way to save money. Other ways to keep things healthy while travelling for work include:

  • Hit up the continental breakfast for fresh fruit
  • Opt for healthier options if you have to eat out every night
  • Choose a restaurant that provides a brisk walk to add a little exercise to your daily routine
  • Schedule morning jogs in the hotel gym or around the city
  • Skip pre- and in-flight drinks to cut down on the effects of jetlag
A woman working in her hotel room Make sure you venture outside of your hotel room to break up your schedule a little bit

4. Sticking to your Hotel Room

After a long day of work, most business travellers probably head back to the hotel room, order some room service and veg out in front of the TV. While this is perfectly normal and recommended if you need some time by yourself, resist the temptation to do this every single night. Sticking to your hotel room on long business travel stints can often exaggerate feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Make some time in your schedule to get out and explore every now and again. From trying out a local restaurant to checking out the sights, venturing out of your hotel room not only allows you to shake off the doldrums of a static routine but it also offers the chance to add a little personal travel to your time on the road.

There are a few different ways to incorporate personal travel into your business schedule. It just requires a little out-of-the-box thinking:

  • Take a walking tour on your lunch hour
  • Book an appointment at the hotel spa
  • Get out and about for some exercise (local jogging routes, parks and golf courses)
  • Take a cooking class 
A professional looking exhausted at his desk Sleep is key to success. Make sure you don't sacrifice a healthy sleep schedule in the name of work

5. Sacrificing your Sleep

When the pressures of work become too great, losing sleep is often the first symptom. It also happens to be a symptom that most business travellers ignore. It is arguably the cardinal bad habit of frequent business travel and it should be addressed as soon as possible.

The immediate effects of lack of sleep – fatigue, lack of focus, moodiness, etc – can make it difficult to carry out day-to-day responsibilities. Add to that the pressure of being on the road, and it could put you on the fast track to work burnout and exhaustion. However, the longer term effects of sleep deprivation can be much more damaging. 

Plenty of studies have shown the link between lack of sleep and falling ill. Sleep deprivation prevents the release of proteins called cytokines, a key part of the immune system that help fight off bugs. Business travellers sacrificing sleep are not only more likely to pick up an illness on the road and take longer to fight it off. The effects of prolonged sleep deprivation are much more serious and have been linked to weight gain, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Carlie Tucker

Travelling is for discovering the unexpected. From fantastic meals in ramshackle joints to stumbling upon a best kept secret, I love those fortuitous travel moments that couldn't be planned if I tried.