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How to deal with stress whilst travelling

Working away from home has its downsides too

Working in events is a double edged sword. Sure I get paid to travel the world, however it’s not all glitz and glamour. Frequently I will spend upwards of a fortnight away, only to return home for a single day before departing again. Whilst this can prove a pleasant experience at times (driving through the Alps to Rome for example) more often than not it is a curse.

Birthdays, weddings, family emergencies, these are all incredibly important milestones I have missed due to travelling with work. The helplessness on hearing bad news whilst away from home is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, it sucks.

Should you find yourself away from home, friends and family for an extended period you might feel stressed. If so, here are three things to help deal with the stress of travelling:

1. Fail to prepare then prepare to fail

This may sound overly simple however that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you do not take stock of your journey beforehand and are not open to the toll this could have on you then you are setting yourself up to fail.

Most UK workers will spend 48 hours a week working, plus approximately an hour a day commuting. That leaves you with 66 hours a week (168 hours in a week – 48 work hours, 5 commuting hours, 49 sleeping hours) to enjoy with your friends and family. In my experience travelling to an event will remove that time spent with friends and family.

Without social time or time to relax you will quickly begin to feel tired, drained and lethargic. Stress takes more forms than you may realise and can manifest itself through illness, muscle pain, headaches/migraines, and even depression.

Take time to recognise just how much time will be spent away from your normal daily routine, this way you can begin to prepare for the challenge ahead.

2. You are what you eat

It is easy to get carried away when you are in a foreign environment and forget just how fragile your body really is.

I learnt this first hand on a recent trip to Mumbai, India. One of my favourite dishes is curry (specifically a madras) however eating local food would prove troublesome. The English interpretation of curry is very different from that available in India, with a variety of spices used which we simply don’t have exposure to at home.

It is easy to think that it’s only one meal, it can’t hurt, but you would be wrong. Your body is accustomed to your daily routine including the food you eat, and a sudden change in diet can have big consequences. I ended up returning home with a bacterial infection which saw me in A&E and forced to take 2 days off work. This wasn’t because of poor food hygiene in India alone, but also with the sudden change of diet, humans just aren’t designed to flip between diets like a light switch.

The way to combat this is be mindful of what you are eating and try to fit in something ‘homely’ every couple of days. In the UK we eat a lot of potato, and the sudden switch to a rice based diet proved too much. A couple of portions of chips or boiled potatoes through the week would have gone a long way.

3. Remember to have fun

This is probably the single biggest mistake people make when travelling with work (myself included). Sure you are representing your employer (or yourself) but you have to remember to let your hair down every now and then. This could be as simple as a 10 minute coffee with a colleague before the end of the day, or a drink at the bar before bed. The key factor is social interaction and a break from the cycle of continuous work.

Some of the worst experiences whilst away with work have been remedied by a short interaction with another human being. Bartenders, hostesses, waitresses, fellow gym goers, they are all avenues to fill your social needs should you be working alone. It’s easy to forget that most people don’t get to travel with work, so you present them with a unique opportunity to interact with someone from a country they may never otherwise visit, share your opinion on topics in the news and see how their viewpoint differs.

Make time to interact with people, even if it is just minutes in your day, this will be harder for introverts but is still vital.