Tips for managing a long business trip

The most common length of time for a business trip is three to four days. But what happens when you are gone for grocery cartlonger periods of time? It requires a lot more planning and strategy, that’s for sure! One or even two month business trips are becoming more and more common. Here are a few ways to manage being gone on a long business trip.

(Check back next week for long-trip packing strategies)!

  • Choose healthy foods.It is so easy to get into an unhealthy eating rut on the road—late dinners, heavy food, restaurant sized-portions, room service….  Try to eat as healthy as you can as often as you can. Choose the lighter options, take half of your food to go (if your room has a fridge and microwave), try grocery stores like Whole Foods for dinner.  If your room has a refrigerator, definitely go grocery shopping (this will also help your per diem go farther!).  Get yogurt or cereal for breakfasts, and try to stay away from fast food as much as possible. (For more tips, see my full post on eating well during a business trip.)
  • Work out. Maintaining your normal routine can help you feel less homesick, and this goes double for exercise. If you typically hit the gym in the morning or go to yoga on the weekend, try to incorporate that into your trip.  If you don’t have a home exercise routine I recommend adding something as easy as a ten minute walk around the block once or twice a day.  This will make you feel better physically and mentally, and will help offset some of the inevitable unhealthy eating. I will often bring resistance bands on business trips–you can do a simple workout right in your hotel room, plus they pack really small.
  • Invest in an e-reader. I can’t stress how much I love my Kindle. You can carry thousands of books with you at all times, without having to tote around the actual books. On many models you can get magazines as well. Plus you can check ebooks out of your local library for free!
  • Two rooms.  If at all possible, stay in a suite. Even if it’s very small, having a space to be in that’s separate from your bedroom can really help your sanity. Bonus points if there is a kitchenette.
  • Plan at least one activity per week. Even if you’re super busy with work, try to plan at least one fun outing each week. Maybe go check out a local attraction, a nice restaurant, a museum, a movie, or a park. Another idea: use some of the points you’ve earned to fly a loved one out to visit you. Having something to look forward to is great for your mental health, especially if it’s a way to get to know your temporary city (like my fun train adventure in Boston a couple of years ago).
  • Find places around you. Just because you’re away from home for a long time doesn’t mean you have to abandon all of your hobbies! Use Google Maps or Yelp to look around your hotel to find places that are important to you: a gym, yarn store, coffee shop, yoga studio, wine bar…. Any place you frequent at home!
  • Close your house. If you live alone, make sure that your mail is being held or forwarded and that your bills are being paid on-time. Arrange for any pets or plants to be cared for. Leave a light on and the radio playing softly. Have a friend drop by a few times to make sure everything is okay. A trick that I learned from a friend who frequently housesits: have someone occasionally switch the light that you leave on to trick potential burglars into thinking someone is home.  Last, be sure you get a ride to the airport so your car is not sitting in long term parking racking up unnecessary charges (also to throw off potential burglars!).
  • Alert your credit card company. Make sure you let your credit card know you will be in a different city for an extended period of time, otherwise you run the risk of your card getting declined (which does happen, and can be so embarrassing).  Be sure to leave unnecessary credit cards at home so if your wallet is stolen you can minimize the headache.
  • Company reimbursement plans.  It’s super important that you familiarize yourself with your company’s expense and reimbursement plan before your extended business trip. Will you be on a per diem or required to turn in receipts? What level of detail do they need? Is there a daily maximum for incidentals? Do they pay for laundry? Etc. It is better to know exactly what will be reimbursed ahead of time!

Readers, do you ever have long business trips? What are your tips for managing them?

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