Business Travel 101: Dealing With Loneliness (Revisited)

Business Travel 101 is a series from a couple of years ago about making that first business trip as easy and successful as possible. I’ve re-tooled the series, and now it’s more comprehensive than ever! It covers everything a new business traveler needs to know for that initial trip, including essential tips for packing, security, safety, etiquette, and comfort.

It happens to the best of us. You’re chugging along: flying, working, meeting, dining, in general kicking tail and taking names. And then you get to your hotel room. You’re alone, without your spouse, kids, pets, or stuff. For some people this is a dream come true, and for the people who are glad to get away, more power to you.

For some, however, this is when loneliness kicks in. When I travel a lot I tend to get really homesick. For some strange reason flying at night can make me sad, which is not a good thing when I am on a multi-leg trip! Even when night flights are not involved, long trips can cause me to feel lonely and miss home. Here are my recommendations for working through it.

  • Use technology. Using Skype or Face Time keeps you up to date on what’s going on at home. During domestic trips we talk every night, but when I go to Manila Home Warrior and I have Skype dates every morning (night time for him). It’s great to be able to see each other, catch up on our day, and it helps me feel less lonely. (This is especially important since being in a foreign country can be isolating all on its own!) A good friend sends his wife videos of their three-year old when she’s gone for work, which helps her feel connected. Also, don’t forget about plain, old phone calls! If you talk to your best friend or sister or mom on a regular basis, give them a call. Just because you’re not home doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your relationships.
  • Keep to your home routine as much as possible. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time you normally do, or maybe even go to bed earlier and get extra sleep. Bring your skin and hair care items from home to  maintain your beauty routine. If you typically read for twenty minutes, or write in your journal, or watch Letterman, try to do those things.
  • Pamper yourself a bit. If possible, I love getting rooms with a separate shower and tub. I will lounge in the tub for an hour, reading and relaxing. If your hotel has a spa and you have extra time, get a facial or a massage. Do something that is fun and makes you feel special. During a long week away for a conference, I spent an amazing evening in the MGM Grand spa. I felt like a new person, and was ready to power through the rest of the week!
  • Bring books and magazines. I always bring several books (on my Kindle) or magazines when I travel. It gives me a chance to catch up on my reading, and passes time in the hotel room (and the airplane!).
  • Exercise. I know it’s a cliché, but exercising really does improve your mood. Whether it’s running, yoga, or swimming, getting your endorphins going through movement will help banish the loneliness.
  • Get out of the hotel room. I often feel super lonely if I stay cooped up in a hotel room whenever I’m not at the office. It’s so easy to do! You’re working hard, you realize it’s late, and say, “It’s easier to have room service than to go out.” Make an effort whenever you can though, because even just taking a walk outside can lift your spirits. I often try to eat dinner at a local restaurant. It’s fun, distracts me from my loneliness, and gives me a taste of the region.
  • Bring pictures of your loved ones. I have tons of photos and videos of my family in my phone, as I bet most people do. Whenever I feel sad, I’ll pull up pictures from our last vacation or concert or whatever. This way I can see their shining faces whenever I need a boost!

Readers, do you get lonely while traveling? What are your best tips for beating the blues?

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