How Road Warriors Overcome the Stress of Business Travel

In the movies, business trips are highlighted with glamorous parties where movie stars and power brokers are in attendance, with days filled with three-martini lunches over which million-dollar deals are made. In reality, it’s a lot more mundane than that for most road warriors, and the stress can take its toll. Road warriors may spend half their lives traveling, running through airports, missing flights, and eating a lot more meals at greasy spoon diners than five-star restaurants.

Some of the most well-traveled road warriors in the United States responded to my question, “What is the most stressful part of business travel?” The responses were surprising, and there’s something to be learned about how to overcome those stresses and make those business trips a little more like those Hollywood movies, preferably with hotels more like Casino Royale’s Hotel Splendide in Montenegro, and less like the hotel in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Rob Volpe, CEO of consumer insights firm Ignite 360, says “The ‘getting to’ has to be the most stressful part — getting to the airport on time, getting through security, making a connecting flight. After years of catching flights just in the nick of time, I’ve started getting to the airport at least 90 minutes early and the decrease in my stress level has been noticeable.”

Don Chernoff, President of Skyroll Luggage Co. knows a thing or two about stressful travel, and the importance of a good hotel. Don says, “For me, the most stressful part is trying to get a good night’s sleep in a hotel with a noisy HVAC unit. Those window units in many hotels are horrible and make way too much noise. It’s hard to do business (or anything) without proper sleep.”

For Jason Bland, of Custom Legal Marketing, a road warrior who spends one week per month traveling, the stress comes long before he gets on the plane. “The only stressful part of business travel for me is the planning,” says Jason. “Usually I’m trying to work in meetings with multiple attorneys in a region within a short period of time. However, once planned, I really enjoy the trip. My partner is a vegetarian, so I use my business trips as an excuse to gorge myself with BBQ (especially in the South, Southwest, and Midwest), and usually I’ll work in some time one day after hours to catch a show or see a landmark.”

But despite the challenges, business travel brings perks as well, and can even change your perspective on how you run your business. Briana Brownell, CEO of Pure Strategy Inc., says “The best thing about business travel is the opportunity it gives you to shift your perspective by experiencing something out of the ordinary. For example, on a business trip I once went to a concert at the Sydney Opera House, where they asked the audience to sing along with the chorus. It was a surreal experience to be singing at an opera performance — and it made me challenge my assumptions about how my business should be engaging with customers and how we could do more to include them in the product we were developing. The ideas that propel you and your business forward the fastest so often come from unexpected places. As a leader, I believe that it’s crucially important to make a concerted effort to put yourself in situations where that can happen.”

Hotels don’t need a five-star rating to alleviate some of your road-weary stresses, either. There are simple things even more modest hotels can do to make the trip easier. According to research from hotel price comparison platform HotelsCombined, 22 percent of American business travelers like to be recognized if they return to the same hotel frequently. “Business travelers are travelers with strong habits, and often turn into repeat customers for a hotel if the traveler has a positive experience,” said Chris Rivett, travel expert at HotelsCombined. “Their focus is on business while they’re away from home, but it’s important that the hotel acts as a bridge between home and the office. We’re seeing many hotels prioritize the guest experience and we expect to see this trend continue as technology makes it even easier for hotels to offer personalized services.”

Despite the obvious stresses involved in business traveling, most respondents indicated that simply taking an extra day, or even an extra afternoon for personal time is often the best way to make a stressful trip a little easier. Whenever possible, seasoned road warriors always take that little bit of extra time to enjoy the sights, sample the local cuisine, and have a night out with colleagues that doesn’t involve making those million-dollar deals.

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