The global pandemic has changed most of us, but for business travelers, there seem to be more anxious feelings. And understandably so. As we transition from Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls to in-person visits with clients we have not seen in almost three years, or never actually met in person, there is a combination of excitement and dread. Excitement to re-establish personal relationships and to meet our virtual contacts in person, yet there are often nagging feelings of uncertainty, causing some anxiety and “what if” scenarios about the changes that have occurred at airports, in hotels, in office buildings and with ride share companies, during this hiatus from travel.
Paying attention to those anxious feelings is vital to your emotional health and puts you in the optimal place to successfully return to business travel. A few simple steps will help you prepare for your business travel and manage those “nagging feelings of uncertainty.”
The following tips can help you minimize stress and adapt to the “New Business Travel Normal”.
1. Focus On the Positives of Returning to Travel
Think about what you have missed by not traveling and seeing customers face-to-face.
- Is it making social connections, learning opportunities, more business chances, or going to new places?
- Get in touch with the synergy of personal visits, brainstorming ideas, going deeper into conversations with time for probing, clarifying and open-ended questions.
- Make a list of all of the positive aspects of personal visits to get you excited about the new opportunities.
2. Acknowledge the Source of Your Travel Concerns
Deal with the source of your reluctance to start traveling. Once you understand the basis of your stress, you can address the source. Also, think about what kind of information you need.
- Is it getting a more thorough understanding of safety protocols for travel?
- Is it being away from the “comfort” of your home office and personal routine?
- Do you need more information on the meeting logistics?
· Once you list all your immediate concerns about returning to travel, you have a road map for action. Quiet those concerns with more factual information, that will have you develop an action plan to manage travel anxiety.
3. Reach Out to Others Who Have Started Business Travel
Business travel has been steadily increasing over the past few months. Reach out to colleagues who have been traveling a while to learn more about their experiences.
- Colleagues are a great source of information and frequently provide do’s and don’ts to make your journey more pleasurable.
- Create your personal network of “Travel Buddies”, staying in touch allows you to swap experiences, catalogue solutions to situations that occur and create and inventory of travel tips at your fingertips.
- If the “nagging feelings” or anxiety do not go away – check in with your travel professional for more up-to-date information and contact your Employee Support
Program, you can share your concerns in a safe and confidential space while gaining greater understanding of the source of your feelings and helping to quiet your concerns.
Once you have a handle on the source of your anxiety, think about establishing a new travel routine that focuses more on personal balance and restores the energy drains caused by traveling.
Consider the steps below to help transition back to business travel.
Think About Your Particular Work Style
Everyone has different work styles. However, working remotely most likely opened new ways for you to work, allowed you to establish new routines and reordered priorities. Think about how to incorporate those changes that are working for you into new routines as you travel.
- Returning to business travel is simply another transition that requires some adjustment. Using the opportunity to think about how to adjust to another transition offers an opportunity to re-think and re-design your work style.
- If you are adapting to a “hybrid work situation,” how you will divide your time between the office, home, and travel schedules.
- Use what you learned from working virtually and adapt what you liked to your new work style.
1. Get Yourself Moving
Many of us used our virtual work situations to get in better shape. We found that movement improves our mood and overall mental health.
- Think about continuing to focus on movement as you return to business travel.
- Look for opportunities when you travel to keep moving, i.e., does the hotel have a gym? are there safe running paths? Is the town walkable?
- Include movement in your planning when making plans.
2. Schedule Time For Yourself
Schedule time for yourself that allows you to pause and fuel your energy.
· Think about activities that nourish your soul and how to transfer them as you start traveling.
- Is there a morning routine that gets you going?
- What can you do to unwind after the work day?
Book “recovery” time into your return schedule, when arriving home late make sure you book in time to catch up on your work as well as to catch up on sleep and downtime. Being intentional about time to recover from travel is a crucial step.
To successfully transition back to business travel, get a handle on where your anxiety comes from, think about establishing a new travel routine, pay significant attention to personal balance, restore the energy drains caused by traveling and focus on your emotional health. All will help you “Settling into A “New Business Travel Normal.”