Business Travel 101: Emotional Strength Required

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By Ellen Saksen, Go Jane Go

At Road Warrior Strong and at Go Jane Go we often discuss ways to stay physically strong on the road.  We tout protein-rich diets with room to reward ourselves for how hard we work, and agile workouts to fit a busy schedule and multiple hotel rooms.  Keeping endorphins up and blood sugar even is a great way to help your body and brain stay healthy and happy when you’re on the road.

But given how much is out of our control when we travel for business, the need to stay emotionally grounded and strong is also paramount.  When you’re on the road a lot, the ability to experience challenges on the road and still be able to quickly bounce back is incredibly helpful.  Remaining calm under pressure has gotten many business travelers out of sticky situations, and keeping a sense of humor has made many trips a little more tolerable.  

So how do you foster and grow emotional strength when you’re on the road?  Here are a few ways the seasoned business travelers at Go Jane Go handle it.

1. Have a mantra for take-off.

Many of the women in our Go Jane Go community have a ritual at takeoff.  One member recites the names of her kids and husband until she reaches cruising altitude.  Another crosses her fingers and repeats “I love you” in her head, thinking of her family. Another expresses quiet gratitude for all that is good in life.  These small ways of remembering the good parts of life can serve to bring calm.

2. “You never know someone else’s story.”

When you get bumped off a flight or are kept up by the bachelorette party in the hotel room adjacent and your first emotion is anger, it sometimes helps to remember that no one is actively trying to make your life difficult.  Rather, some things are out of one’s control, or people are unaware of how they’re making you feel. Or, in the case of the barista in CLT terminal D who screws up your order, maybe they’re having a terrible day and just need some kindness and patience.  Take a breath and remember we are all experiencing life in different ways.

3. Kill ‘em with kindness.

When things DO go “pear-shaped” as they often do in transit, this author finds the best way to make it through is with copious smiles, patience, and a solid sense of humor.  I always get a better seat than the stressed out, rude businessman next to me, barking at the desk agent. And it’s because I assume good intentions, try to make my case with respect, and know I’m generally powerless but that I can at least be kind about it.  

4. We’re all in this together.

Sometimes the pack mentality can  be helpful. Many of us have been stuck on the bus to the Hilton Garden Inn after the flight out of La Guardia was cancelled - it’s sometimes fun to make a friend, commiserate at the bar, accept your fate and try to make the best of it.  Friendships, clients, and even relationships sometimes come out of these unexpected overnights.

5. Be prepared, and know it really doesn’t matter.

Bandaids, hand sanitizer, sewing kit, extra charger, ziplocs, an extra toothbrush and pair of undies etc. No matter how much we prepare, we can’t plan everything.  And if a trip can go haywire, it often does. Do your best but still know when you leave your transit up to thousands of other people and the weather, you’re bound to get stuck sometimes.  

All in all, taking deep breaths and realizing what you can and can’t control helps a lot on business trips.  This approach helps in life too. It’s why the Serenity Prayer is so popular!

Need more advice on winning at business travel?  Look to Road Warrior Strong and our friends at Go Jane Go for timely, realistic and helpful advice for those of us living life on the road.  Are you a woman who travels for business? Join the Go Jane Go Community!