5 tips for dealing with a crazy travel schedule

Some people have regular travel schedules.  They know that every first week they’re in Cleveland and every third week they’re in 5-5-14-1Pittsburgh. Others know months in advance when they’ll be gone. Not me. Some trips I know way ahead of time, but many of my trips come up with just a week or two in advance. For example, I knew back in February I would be traveling twice in May and twice in June. Then in the last week three extra trips came up—so now I’m gone four times in May and three in June. That means out of the next two months there is only one week I don’t travel. I’m going to Utah, Boston, New York, Manila, Arkansas, south Texas, and North Carolina. Oy.

Thinking about being gone that much is enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and pull the covers over my head!  But as appealing as that sounds, there are ways to cope. Here are some strategies I’ve developed over the years to make it through periods of intense travel.

  1. Be organized. Every night before I go to bed I make and check lists of everything that needs to be done the next day. Every single thing—whether it’s calling the vet to confirm my dog’s appointment or emailing a coworker about a client’s marketing campaign. This way I know I won’t forget anything in the flurry of packing, rental cars, and airplanes. Also, add calendar reminders for any big items on the to-do list that might slip your mind.
  2. Take it one day at a time. Sometimes (like right now!) it feels too overwhelming to think about what next week will look like. At those times the only thing I can do is focus on the things that have to be done that day—this is where the organizing really helps!
  3. Simplify packing as much as possible. Before the travel frenzy starts, I make a master packing list. This way I’ve got the things I need on every trip—laptop, curling iron, makeup, etc—written down, as well as a template for how many outfits I need. Speaking of templates: when I have the time I love to plan my outfits for travel down to the earrings. When things are crazy, though, it’s easier to stick to a simple uniform: for the first three trips, it will be slacks, a blouse, a cardigan, flats, statement necklace, and pearl studs. That way I can just fill in the blanks. Another option: plan your capsule wardrobe for the season and just choose from those pieces. That way you know you’ve got thirty outfits from the ten items in your suitcase, without having to think too much.
  4. Let some things go. When I’ve got back to back trips, after a while it’s all I can do to pack, get on the plane, and execute my job. Eventually, I have to give on some smaller things to maintain my sanity. Laundry may pile up, gifts may be ordered at the last minute (or late), and by the last trip I may be wearing all black. But at least I’m not (completely) crazy!
  5. Appreciate the little things. If a glass of wine in an airport bar is the only peace you get all day, then enjoy the heck out of it.  A new book, an empty middle seat, a conveniently located hotel room… Taking just a moment to breathe and enjoy the little things can help recharge you enough to keep going.

Readers, what are your tips for handling intense periods of travel?

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