Traveling for work can be super rewarding—providing exciting opportunities to discover new places, people, and ideas—but it can also be exhausting, especially if you’re doing it without planning ahead.
As heads of the Boston-based international strategic consultancy The Art of Change, Karen DeTemple and Nicole Polletta know their way around the jet set/work lifestyle. So in anticipation of our upcoming Girlboss Rally, we tapped these two globe-trotting star founders to offer their advice on how to ace your next business trip (without crumbling into a ball of anxiety).
Here’s what DeTemple and Polletta recommend to get the most out of your work travel.
Never check a bag
Audrey Hepburn once said that, “Paris is always a good idea”—and so is carrying on. Have you ever arrived at a conference only to find out your go-to make-up products and favorite dress are who-knows-where? If you have, then you know my pain. If you haven’t, well, you don’t want to know it.
“We never check a bag so that we can rest easy that all of our favorite belongings will arrive when we do, and we can go straight from the airport to a meeting or event with ease,” says Polletta. Plus, you’ll likely save a few dollars when you forego baggage fees. Win-win.
Dress (comfortably) to slay
“We always travel in something fabulous—yet comfortable—so we can hit the ground running,” Polletta says. Try layering a cozy, well-made T-shirt with a jacket or cardigan and a chic pair of shoes and pants that can go from the plane to the boardroom. And don’t forget to add whatever item makes you relaxed and confident, no matter the time zone or altitude.
Be. Here. Now.
Take 30 minutes a day for yourself. “This is a must do,” says DeTemple. She recommends finding at least one local activity that actually makes you feel like you’re in the place that you’ve traveled to (and not just stuck in a random hotel room). Whether it’s taking an early morning solo walk on the beach in Miami, or getting a bite of street food in Hong Kong at the end of the day, to recharge your creative energy.
Review your social media Rolodex.
While the introvert in all of us might seek out room service and relaxation over camaraderie after a long day of out-of-town work, Polletta advises building new relationships by planning ahead. Create a wishlist of friends, colleagues, and followers you’d like to meet for the first time or catch up with at your destination. “We always go through our contact lists and social media followers both inside and outside of our network in advance of any trip,” she says. “Putting together a cozy, fun get-together over cocktails at a cool spot in town is a fantastic way to put like-minded people together and have fun while doing it.”
Shut off. Shut-eye.
At the end of the day, congratulate yourself for your hard work, and take care to try to get quality sleep on the plane, train, automobile, or hotel room once you arrive. To prevent jet lag, experts say it’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after your travels, and to try to adjust to the new time zone schedule as soon as possible. That means sleeping only when it’s nighttime and eating meals in sync with the time zone at the new locale. Once it’s time to rest, Polletta and DeTemple recommend essential oils and a meditation app, such as Headspace, and earplugs and eye masks can help block out noise and sunlight to encourage sleep. Of course, speak to your physician if sleep difficulties are ongoing.
Always say thank you (or gracias)
“It’s always important to show your graciousness—even if you’re working,” says DeTemple. She recommends bringing something from your home city for your client or colleagues to show your appreciation for hosting you, even it’s small or you’re on a budget. Think sweet and simple, like chocolates from a local chocolatier. Plus, a little taste of home might be just what you need when you’re thousands of miles from it.