How to Stay Productive While Traveling


Traveling can cause us to disrupt our usual routine. And that has impacts on productivity. How can we mitigate those risks and stay productive while on-the-go?

Traveling Doesn’t Mean You Have to “Stop”

People travel for all types of reasons. Some travel for business, others for pleasure. Some travelers are visiting family members while others are visiting boardrooms. Regardless of the “why,” it’s important to remember that just because you’re traveling, doesn’t mean your life has to stop.

Quite the contrary, in fact. While traveling, you should find the best way to keep up with your daily routine and maintain your productivity rhythm. Easier said than done, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Below we have compiled a list of things you can do to maximize your productivity while you are ‘on the road’.

Prepare a Morning Routine

One of the best things you can do to prepare yourself mentally for ‘travel routines’ is create your own morning routine. Say, for example, that every morning you wake up, take a shower, and prepare a cup of coffee. That already sounds like something that’s pretty common, right?

Now, say you add to that 15 minutes of tranquil meditation followed by a 20 minute session of writing in your journal. A little less common but still easily accomplished. Or, imagine between the ‘wake up’ and ‘shower’ you add a 15 minute jog. Mix and match however you like but the idea is still the same, create a ritual-like routine.

The benefit of a routine is that once you have done it enough times, it becomes second nature. We are not at our 100% in the morning. Eyelids sticking together, the bed yelling “where are you going? Come back!”, and an overall groggy feeling are part of the parade that follows the orchestra that is your alarm clock.

Having a pre-set list of things you want to do before starting your day allows you to auto-pilot your own brain. In essence, a morning routine switches your first thought in the morning from “what should I do now?” to “alright, let’s get started.”

Make Plans

Throw the ‘maybes’ out the window! Limit the amount of options you have. It’s not in our nature to be confident in our decisions, not always at least. In many cases we hesitate when presented with too many decisions. That might be why airlines only offer two options “chicken or beef?”

It’s not that we can’t make decisions, it’s just that it’s easier when we can narrow the choices down. If you are traveling on business then the decision and plans have been made for you. You know that at 7 AM you will go to the lobby to have breakfast and at 8 AM a car will pick you up to go to the event or meeting you have arranged.

Likewise, if you are traveling for leisure, your tour bus might be waiting for you at the lobby at that time. Either way, the choice has been made for you. If, on the other hand, you are traveling with no groups and no immediate business, then you should get in the habit of making plans for yourself.

Narrow the choices for what you would like to see locally and decide the best course of action. Perhaps certain sights are clustered in a few parts of the city. In which case you would be better off going to each of those parts on different days. Whatever you decide, make sure to do it before the ‘day of’ so that when you wake up your itinerary is ready.

Keep Healthy

Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you can’t stay healthy. It might be tempting to use the “I’m on vacation” excuse a few too many times. Still, it’s just as easy to choose healthier choices while you are away. A short jog in the morning followed by a healthy breakfast can set the pace for the entire day.

Wherever you go, you will likely find healthy options for dining. These don’t have to be all salads, either. You can keep healthy by simply keeping track of how much you are eating. You can also factor in how much you are moving throughout the day.

Walking through an old city, taking guided tours, and swimming in the hotel pool can all add to your daily exercise. Therefore, you can probably get away with having a hearty lunch and a lean dinner. If, on the other hand, you are sitting in meetings from sunrise to sunset, then you want to keep all your meals lean.

The right balanced diet and exercise routine will always depend on you. Having it built in to your subconscious like “wake up, go for a jog” can make maintaining that routine much easier, however. Find the best plan for yourself and stick to it while traveling (even if that means creating a 15-minute routine you can do from inside your hotel room).

Prepare an ‘Away Office’

One thing many people don’t often prepare for is what it will feel like to work away from the office. Unless you are already familiar with working remotely, you might find it uncomfortable to pull out your laptop in any coffee shop.

The setting, the noises, the smells, and many other factors will seem unfamiliar. The best way to prepare for this is by doing drills. Just like you would do fire drills or other disaster-type drills, prepare for working away from your home or office.

Take note of what materials you need when you are working. A computer and a stable internet connection are probably a given. A notebook, a pen, your phone, etc. might also fit into the list of things you will need. Make an actual list if the materials you’ll need and a mental note of what you can do in case you don’t have one of these.

It’s easy to prepare for everything to go according to plan. What many people fail to prepare for is “what if it doesn’t?” Don’t fall victim to the pitfalls of ‘I can’t find internet’ or ‘my laptop has no battery!’ Prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more!

Get Enough Sleep

Another key part of maintaining your health a priority is not sacrificing sleep while you travel. It’s easy to want to stay up a little later to catch a show or have a drink by the beach. Nevertheless, those hours catch up and suddenly you’ve gone 3 days without getting proper sleep!

Sacrificing sleep to do more things will actually take away from the things you do! Not only will you feel tired throughout the day but your mind will be less quick when reacting. When you’re traveling you should have a fresh mind. Staying fresh will help make the best decisions throughout the day.

A taxi driver giving you an unfair price, a work emergency you need to handle from your phone in a coffee shop, or a choice between two tours can all be better handled with a clear mind! Don’t let sleep be the reason your vacation or work-cation was only OK and not great.

To prevent losing sleep, you might even consider creating an evening routine. This way, you can create a ritual that prepares your mind for sleep. Finish dinner, brush your teeth, turn off all screens (phone, computer, tv, etc.), drink warm tea, have a steamy shower, etc. Choose some activities that help you relax and ensure you get those 8 hours! A little preparation tonight can make a massive difference tomorrow!

Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks

Let’s face it, even in the best of vacations you’ll have a little downtime while moving from place to place. Whether you are catching a flight to get there, in the bus or cab on the way to the hotel, or on your way to the meeting, you’ll have some time. Rather than spend that time looking out the window, why not use it to your advantage?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of options for listening that can keep your eyes and hands available in case you need them. Moving through a terminal might not permit reading a book but you can definitely listen to the news or your favorite novel.

Sure, sometimes all you want is some peace and quiet. That makes perfect sense. Still, once you have finished meditating or relaxing, you can pop in those earphones and catch up on your favorite crime thriller!

Podcasts, audiobooks, news radio, and any other audio experience can teach you something new on the go! Pro-tip: avoid laggy streaming by downloading them onto your phone before your intended travel times.

Read

When you are not on the go and do have a moment to sit down, try reading. This one seems pretty intuitive but there is no better way to stay productive than exercising the mind. Most people focus the bulk of their exercising, when they do exercise, on their physique. Not enough time is dedicated to exercising the brain.

The brain is like a muscle, in the sense that it also requires attention in order to grow to its full capacity. Muscles that aren’t exercised become atrophied over time. Likewise, when you disregard the brain, it doesn’t function as well as it could.

Reading both fiction and non-fiction books can help develop a better sense of logic and creativity. Plus, it’s never a bad idea to add more applicable knowledge to your existing skill base. Nor is it ever a bad idea to delve into fictional worlds and tap into the imaginative alleys of your brain.

Reading should be a staple in day to day life and is always a wonderful opportunity while traveling. Admittedly, this is an activity that requires a little more time. Therefore, if you can’t make time to read, an audiobook (as mentioned earlier) might be the better choice.

Find Opportunities to Network

You probably won’t be the only person traveling, unless it’s a very special kind of tour. In most cases, you will have the opportunity of meeting other people that are also traveling in the area. You’re bound to meet people in a tour group, at an office you are visiting, in a local event, or even having a beer at a bar in the evening.

The opportunities are everywhere, you just have to look. Networking is a fantastic chance to meet interesting people along your journey. It doesn’t necessarily have to lead to a business contact in the future. Some people just have a curious story to tell, and that alone can make meeting them worthwhile.

Rather than think about “where am I going to meet people?” get rid of that self-inflicted stress and just think about accomplishing the things on your to-do list for the day. Then, while you’re doing them, simply keep an open personality whereby you talk with the people around you.

Don’t worry if some aren’t too keen to talk, what matters is when you find a person that does want to talk. Striking up a conversation with people around you can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone and even learn a little something you wouldn’t have otherwise known.

Enjoy Yourself

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” All in all, the best way to stay productive is making sure you are having a good time. Even if you are traveling for business, make sure to schedule in a little “me-time”.

Going down to the pool of the hotel, walking around the city in the evening, or going to a restaurant with amazing reviews are all ways in which you can sneak in a little enjoyment time. Otherwise, enjoy your vacation! Go out, explore, see and learn new things, meet people along the way, and take plenty of pictures.

Staying productive is important but keep in mind that when all is said and done, memories are the only thing we keep. So, even after a very productive day working, treat yourself to some time away from screens. Work can always wait until tomorrow but you might not get a second chance to dip your toes in the Mediterranean.

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