20+ ways manage stress and anxiety before, during, and after business travel
According to a recent business travel Q2 ‘22 survey by Tourism Economics, “81% of business travelers in the U.S. expect to take at least one trip for conferences, conventions, or trade shows in the next six months.” And each and every one of those trips can possibly have stressful situations you’ll have to deal with—from lost baggage to canceled flights, not to mention the added stress of daily life.
This guide will help you prepare for your upcoming trip so you can manage your levels of stress, reduce anxiety about your travel, and have a better time overall! We know a thing or two about reducing stress for business travel so you can reduce burnout and maximize employee productivity.
Why is business travel so stressful?
Business travel can be exciting, but it can also be stressful—especially when you have international travel, multiple connecting flights, and a tight schedule. All of these things can affect your well-being. And if you’re someone already prone to workplace stress it’s important to be prepared with preemptive ways to manage travel anxiety so you can take care of your mental health and keep levels of stress low. There are lots of stressors that you may encounter when you travel, so read on to learn about stress reduction while traveling for business. Here are some possible sources of stress you may encounter while traveling for business:
- You have a middle seat for the entire 10-hour trek, because you weren’t able to pick your own seat and your back already hurts just thinking about it.
- You could lose your luggage, but it’s more likely the airline loses your luggage.
- You may not have adequately prepared for the added expenses of transportation to and from the airport, hotel, and work locations, so keep these costs in mind too.
- Your flight could be delayed or canceled, and you could miss an important meeting.
- You may have to call customer service or stand in a long line to solve a business travel-related problem which could take a long time.
- Your expense and booking process could be a pain.
- You could have a problem with your hotel booking.
And these are just a few of the things that could go wrong. Stress management during travel is an important way to reduce travel anxiety and protect mental health. Employees need to be rested, well-fed, and at their best by the time they arrive at the office or client meetings. We’ll cover self-care techniques and best practices for business travel. Read on to see ways to manage stress levels before, during, and after your trip.
Combating stress and anxiety during business travel
The best way to combat all these what-ifs and protect your mental health is to be prepared before, during, and after your business trip. We’ll lay out some of the best ways you can cope with stress during your trip. Here are some of the best tips for how you can reduce stress levels and anxiety during business travel:
Ways to manage stress levels during business travel (Before you go)
- Make sure you can pick out your airline seat in advance, and book early so you get your preferred seat.
- Get a good night’s sleep before your trip, especially if you have a super early flight
- Pack an extra carry-on bag that has toiletry essentials and an extra outfit, in case your checked luggage is lost.
- Make sure you have all your electronics chargers and adapters if you’re traveling internationally.
- Map out your trip itinerary so you have a good understanding of how long all legs of the trip will take.
- Pack snacks in your carry-on! This will save you time standing in lines and also help you reduce your expenses.
- Download relevant travel apps and keep contact information readily available should you run into any issues while traveling.
Ways to manage stress levels while you are traveling and protect your well-being
- Take pictures of any receipts as you go, or upload them as you make purchases throughout your trip.
- Make time for self-care while on your flight like stretches, drink plenty of water or use a sheet mask on your face (Trust us, do this!). We’re not suggesting you paint your fingernails on the plane, but a little self-care can do wonders while you’re traveling and fight those stress hormones.
- Get some physical activity! Find a gym or take advantage of a morning walk before you get started for the day. Regular exercise gives you endorphins and reduces cortisol levels, which will lift your mood and combat stress and anxiety. Too much cortisol can also have negative effects on your nervous system.
- Drink tons of water! In fact, carry a reusable water bottle with you everywhere on your trip. Airports have water fountains where you can easily refill your water bottle.
- Try to eat as close to your normal diet as possible and avoid fast food.
- Try breathing exercises! Use deep breathing techniques or meditation when you feel your stress levels start to rise, as these are tried and true relaxation techniques meant to manage stress. This is another great way to reduce cortisol levels, which increase blood pressure, heart rate, and release stress hormones.
- Check-in with emails at work to stay on top of changes so it’s not so much to do when you get back to the office or back to your home office.
- Take lots of notes and summarize what you were able to accomplish on this trip.
Ways to manage stress levels after your business trip
- Do your expenses as soon as you can so you can get reimbursed quickly.
- Don’t forget to keep up regular exercise even after your trip, as this helps manage stress.
- Write down what stressed you about this trip, so you can actively take steps to avoid it next time you travel for business.
- Don’t rush back into work when you get home. If you can, work from home for a day before returning to the office.
- Leave reviews on the hotel if you can, especially if it’s a preferred location by your employer as this helps your colleagues know if it’s a good place to stay or not too, reducing their stress.
- Share your notes and summaries of what work was accomplished with clients and relevant co-workers. This is especially nice if you attend a conference, so that you can share new ideas and how to apply them at your business with your colleagues.
Things employers and employees can do to make business travel less stressful
Aside from giving feedback on the travel experience with your employer, you can also bring up areas where you think they can improve. For example, maybe the current travel program your business uses doesn’t have a very good app, and that made it harder to submit expenses while you were traveling.
Or maybe they don’t offer enough types of flights, so you were stuck with two connections on what should have been a direct flight. That’s why you should look for a business travel platform with flexible options and a big inventory. For example, TravelPerk, the leading travel management platform, is the world’s largest bookable inventory of low-cost flights, boutique hotels, Airbnb, trains, and more – all bookable through one single app with the best user experience. Here are some other things employers can do to make business travel less stressful:
- Allow employees to self-book travel (TravelPerk’s app allows this feature.)
- Set automatic rules in the travel program so the travel policies are easy to understand and abide by
- Use a travel program that has 24/7 support, with real-time chat response so your employees can get help quickly while they are traveling (without bothering the travel manager!)
- Encourage employees to seek out additional healthcare or help if they find traveling for business too stressful. They could have an anxiety disorder or other health complications they need to get checked out.
How TravelPerk can help you manage stress and protect mental health during business travel
There are so many things you can do individually for stress relief and anxiety relief while traveling for business, and we hope you also see that using the right travel management program can also help ease stress! Unsatisfied with your current travel program? TravelPerk is a stress-free business travel platform with 24/7 real-time support, great integrations with the tools your company already uses, and a sleek user interface to make travel booking and management easy and straightforward.