How to prepare for the challenges of business travel

From the outside, a business trip can seem like a paid vacation. But the employees who are on these trips know that these getaways are unglamorous work. A new study of 2,000 male business travelers by men’s suit retailer Jos. A. Bank found that the average male business traveler only got about two hours of free time on work trips, and employees still felt pressure to work in that small remainder of free time.

The top challenges business travelers face

For business travelers, the time away from their homes and routine takes a toll. Here is what they said were their biggest challenges:

  1. Being away from family — 50%
  2. Dealing with flight/train delays — 47%
  3. Dealing with airports — 46%
  4. Time spent traveling — 45%
  5. Staying fit and healthy — 39%
  6. Traffic — 37%
Living out of a suitcase — 36%
  8. Working longer/harder hours — 34%
  9. Being in a new place but not having time to explore it —33%
  10. Keeping your clothes/suit looking good (unwrinkled, etc.) —33%

Some of the solutions to these problems are easier to solve. To prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled, you can do what business mogul Barbara Cocoran does. She said she packs a steamer on trips:  “You know when you’re traveling and always against the clock, and can’t iron because it’ll give your clothes a shine? This will save you.”

To learn how to live out of a suitcase, you need to accept that you cannot overpack, and that you need to live by necessity. Read up on packing techniques that can help you maximize space. Streamline items by making each one have a double purpose. Recognize that you can always buy items after you land.

To fix the larger problem of time lost to traffic, delays and traveling hiccups, you need to accept that there are going to be circumstances out of your control. “Going with the flow” was among the top advice that business travelers in the survey gave.

If you are among the travelers that feel pressured to always be available for work, learn to rethink this mindset. Try scheduling your meetings smartly so there is more personal time left over.

When you work long hours without a clear ending, it can be hard to carve out time for yourself, but it is a necessary action if you want to combat the stress of traveling for work. More than half of participants said their favorite part of traveling for work was the opportunity to see a new place. Make time to actually see the new city you are visiting. Go for a run outside, make a reservation at a local restaurant, or sightsee. These personal joys can offset the larger hurdles of being away for your regular routine.