Booze! Sugar! Business Travel Rocks!

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by: Marcey Rader, Productivity and Health Speaker, Author and Coach, Work Well. Play More! Institute

As a road warrior, at home do you….

Exercise, get in bed by 10:00 pm, make sure you eat at least a few vegetables, limit your coffee, stop at one cookie, and refrain from checking email after 9pm?

When you travel do you…

Hit snooze, check email until 11pm, eat fast food, drink coffee all day long, take advantage of the corporate per diem at the bar, eat cookies in the meeting all afternoon and forget what a vegetable is?

What happens to us when we travel for business?

It took me years to figure out how to get a handle on it. That per diem called my name to spend every penny. That tray of cookies at the meeting whispered in my ear. The stress of my email made me stare at a screen until I tried to go to sleep. I watched TV in bed even though I forbid a TV in my room at home.


I was a different person.

Wired and Tired. Jacked and Crashed.

Is this how you feel?

You need boundaries. You’re not on vacation.


Your body doesn’t care that you have $75 to spend or that you’re celebrating a sale. Your brain doesn’t give you any leeway to grow new pathways just because you have a deadline and you need to stay up all night. When you’re on vacation, or you only travel once or twice a year — go for it. It’s okay to let your guard down. But travel weekly or even monthly for your job?  The only way you aren’t going to burn out, get sick or end up with the ‘travel 20′ is to set boundaries and stick to ’em.



Do I want to do anything or say anything to this person that I might regret? Is this individual my boss, peer or someone who needs to see me at my best and not my shuffling feet or slurred words? What do I need to do in the morning? Do I need to wake up feeling good since alcohol affects REM sleep? Do I want the empty calories? Am I only drinking out of social pressure?

If you’re always having after-work drinks or dinners out, set a limit. Maybe it’s one drink per meeting or no more than three times in a week. Order a beverage that looks like an alcoholic drink if you don’t want people asking you about it. Whatever you do…don’t go on and on about why you aren’t drinking. Just say you have to pace yourself through the week or it affects your sleep too much, and you need to get a good night in since you’re in a hotel bed. Tell them you want to make sure you hit the gym or go for a run in the morning, and want to feel good while doing it. Just state what it is and move on.



What’s the deal with the cookie and brownie trays at meetings? The cookies are the size of pancakes and are offered at lunch or in the afternoons when most people naturally have an energy dip. This is the WORST time to be eating cookies, yet….we do it.

Options? Have the cookie because otherwise you would be obsessed with the cookie.

It’s right there in front of me. I can smell the cookie. The cookie wants me to eat it. Everyone else is having a cookie. Damn the person who ordered these delicious cookies.

If this is you, try having half the amount you normally would. If you have two, have one. If you have one, have half. If you are eating out of boredom or to keep yourself awake save some of your lunch for the afternoon and snack on that. If you don’t want to be the only one not eating a cookie, simply say sugar makes you sleepy (it does for everyone after they come down from the high) and you want to be alert for the meeting. Say you are sensitive to sugar and you are trying to cut back. Just don’t vilify the people eating the sugar. Focus on how it affects you. If you are the person ordering the cookies, stop ordering cookies! I used to offer fruit and nuts in the afternoon, and hardly anyone ever complained. I actually had people thank me.



Be realistic. I know a lot of travelers who have intentions of going to the hotel gym and never make it there. Most people let their program go to the toilet when they travel.

If you usually work out for 45 minutes at home, count on half that time when you travel. Focus on getting at least 10 minutes in the morning. That way you at least got something in if your evening plans change or your flight is delayed. Try for a 10-minute Movement Opportunity instead. Don’t want to pack extra clothes or shoes? Work out in your underwear in your hotel room.



Are you available 24 hours a day when you’re at home? Then why are you when you travel?

Create office hours. Just because you are on a business trip doesn’t mean you are working 24 hours the entire time you are gone. I set up a Do Not Disturb on my phone between 8 pm and 8 am. This means that I don’t get calls between those hours unless they are from someone on my favorites list. Put your phone in airplane mode when you sleep. Use an app that syncs with your calendar during meetings to automatically silence calls. Alternatively, put your phone in silent or DND. I do this for most of my meetings, so I’m not distracted. 



Stuck in the email drip and checking your phone 150 times a day? Create office hours just like on your phone. We treat people how we respond to emails. Just because we have instant access, doesn’t mean email is urgent. If you act like a rat, you’ll keep getting the pellet. When you are processing email on your phone, there are really only three things you can do — Delete, Archive, and quick Replies. Everything else should stay unopened if you are practicing O.H.I.O. – Only Handle It Once.

You can create boundaries when you travel. Business travel isn’t just part of your job, it’s a lifestyle®. You have to create a routine out of non-routine to stay on top of your health and productivity.


What’s your hardest boundary to set when you travel?


Marcey Rader

Productivity and Health Speaker, Author and Coach,

Work Well. Play More! Institute


Marcey will at the IntelliCon DC, 9 November doing an Ask Me About session focused on supporting your travelers to stay safe and health while on the road without sacrificing productivity or incentivizing burnout.

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