Travel is a fact of life for many business owners and professionals, and brings its own distinctive set of pleasures and challenges. Even after all the technical aspects of your itinerary are in place (plane ticket, hotel booking, rental car, appropriate clothing, etc.), you still need to collect your luggage, settle into your room, firm up your work and meeting schedule, find time for nutritious meals, and (if applicable) acclimate to a different culture and time zone.
If possible, arrive a day or two early.
By showing up early, you’ll have an opportunity to do some advanced scouting and familiarize yourself with your surroundings. You can check out restaurants and public venues in the neighbourhood, pick up a map and city guide, get some exercise to restore your muscle strength, flexibility, and blood flow after a long flight, and learn your way around. You’ll also have more margin to wean yourself off jet-lag, and come to terms with any culture-shock you may experience.
Overcome jet-lag by making adjustments to your routine right away.
Ideally, your early arrival will help you adjust to the local time zone. Shift your meal times on day one, and mitigate the disturbance to your system by eating foods that are similar to whatever you would consume at home. Resist the urge to either get up or fall asleep at odd hours of the day, and aim for the bedtime and waking time to which you’re accustomed. By sticking with your usual habits, you’ll enable your body to modify its circadian rhythms more readily.
If you’ve had jet-lag issues in the past, try taking small doses of melatonin—a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle—about half an hour before bed time. (Melatonin is available in many pharmacies and health food stores.)
Stay hydrated, eat well, and don’t over-caffeinate.
When you feel sluggish because of jet-lag or a long day of travel, you’ll inevitably feel tempted to indulge in copious quantities of coffee, tea, or energy drinks, hoping to artificially perk yourself up. However, you should aim to keep your caffeine consumption to a moderate level, since the caffeine-overload “solution” to listlessness introduces a new set of problems—including dehydration, the need to visit the bathroom frequently, and a tendency for you to crash once the caffeine high wears off.
Instead of saturating your system with caffeine, keep yourself hydrated, start the day with a breakfast that includes protein and complex carbohydrates, and take a power nap if necessary. A multivitamin supplement can also give you a boost by helping your body metabolize energy more efficiently, and defend against travel bugs.
Keep everything in its place.
Travel is inherently stressful, and becomes even more so if you find yourself hunting around at an inopportune moment for something you’ve misplaced. You can avoid this with a bit of discipline. When you feel tired at the end of a long day, resist the urge to just toss things wherever; dedicate each of the items you need to a particular spot, and maintain that arrangement for the full duration of your trip.
Plan your schedule in advance.
Set two to three primary goals for your journey in advance, and keep those objectives in mind throughout.
If you’re unfamiliar with the destination community, do some research to ascertain how long it will take you to transit from one location to another, whether on foot, by taxi, or using public transportation.
Devote a specific amount of time to work-related duties, and try to stick with the program. Although a measure of flexibility is necessary, you’ll also need to be wary of the distractions you’re certain to encounter on your first visit to a new place. If you can, reserve some spare time for sightseeing and exploration.