To an outsider business travel looks like a dream job and a 1-way ticket out of the 9 to 5 routine. But realistically it’s not all its worked up to be. With constant high performance demands, hectic schedules, stressful meetings and sleepless late nights.
As an event manager, business travel fatigue is something we have to overcome regularly; from international flights and 16-hour event days, to regular business meetings back and forth across time zones.
There’s only one thing an event manager dislikes more than a delayed flight and that’s feeling ordinary when you commence work at the final destination thanks to jet-lag.
Seasoned business traveller and Managing Director of Cornerstone Events, Natalie Brumniach, gives us her inside tips on how to cope with travel fatigue and actually getting some sleep on those long-haul business trips.
Prep for your Flight
If you’re heading off on a long-haul international flight make sure to anticipate the time change several days before the trip. This means getting up and going to bed earlier when travelling east, and later when travelling west.
When boarding, change the time on your watch or phone to the destinations local time and try to sleep on board if it’s night time at your destination, as this will help your body adjust when you arrive.
Bring some earplugs and a travel eye mask, these come in handy not only when you’re trying catch some shut-eye on the plane, but they’re also great if you get stuck in a noisy or light room at your hotel. I always carry a set of Bose noise cancelling earbuds which can be used to cancel the white noise on the plane, as well hooking into the entertainment system, they are super small, comfortable and can stay in your ears whilst sleeping.
I also make sure that whatever I am wearing is comfortable and light, as the temperature on an aircraft fluctuates. Pharmacy fitted compression socks also are a must for me as I find if my feet do swell it can take up to 48 hours before they are back to normal, not good when leading directly into an event or appointments.
A planes cabin has very low humidity and can make you dehydrated very quickly. It is important to drink plenty before, during and after the flight and I make sure to stay away from alcohol and caffeine as this can make you more dehydrated. If you are flying economy on a medium to long haul flight I always take a bottle or two of water on board from the airport, as the amount of water offered in economy is insufficient to stay hydrated. I also eat lightly, as all I am doing is sitting and laying for hours, so there is no need to consume the calories.
According to the sleep foundation sunlight is a critical factor in adjusting to your new location time. I ensure to get some daylight hours outside when I reach my destination as sunlight naturally regulates your body’s biological clock, and can help ease the effects of jet-lag.
Have a Routine
Just because you are constantly on the road doesn’t mean you can’t keep a routine. I start the day with some exercise like a light walk prior to breakfast, I eat regularly and drink loads of water. Sleep is the most important factor and we all know in our business that those precious hours we get after a long day is critical. A bath relaxes me after a long day, otherwise a shower followed by a camomile tea generally leads me to the reward of sleep.
Keep your Diet on Track
Being away from home its easy to for go your healthy lifestyle and opt for fatty convenient foods. I keep my diet on track by always carrying a piece of fruit and protein in my bag. Working in a fast paced events environment I never know when I’m going to eat next, and having a healthy alternative to reach for will stop you from heading to the vending machine. Packing vitamins is also a good way to keep your immune system on track, especially after traveling in high-risk environments.
Structure your Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine consumption can help alleviate day-time sleepiness once you’ve arrived at your destination. Make sure to drink it throughout the day as needed to keep you on top of your game, however be sure to stop drinking any caffeinated drinks at least 3-4 hours before sleeping as this can disrupt your sleep immensely.
Whilst you can not defeat jet-lag entirely following these few steps will help keep travel fatigue at bay during those long business trips.