“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” Lin Yutang
Recently I was lucky enough to go on a work trip to Cologne, my first ever work trip abroad and all I can say on the matter is. Nothing in this world can prepare you for the utter exhaustion you feel while travelling for work. My days were at least 18 hours long, I tried to stay on top of my normal day to day job while working my arse off to get the job in Cologne done. I also think that when work sends you on these trips you want to work even harder to show that you were the right person to go. So on top of the actual workload, you tend to put extra pressure on yourself.
It was so important for me to get as much out of this trip as humanly possible but three days in Cologne left me exhausted and in need of my bed. So I thought I would share some tips with you on how to survive a work trip, work long hours and see some of the places you visited.
Always have your laptop handy or download everything you would need to your phone!
When it comes to being organised I am a bit of a freak, so the week before I travelled I downloaded all my documents to my phone, organised all my work files onto my phone and bought myself two battery packs to ensure my phone was useable and 100% work friendly at all times. I also invested in a new work bag that was large enough to fit my laptop and comfortable for me to carry around all day. You get unexpected downtime which is perfect for checking emails and keeping in touch with the office. If your laptop is always to hand it makes it much easier, think of the time you have in the airport, waiting for meetings or dinner. During these times I was able to stay on top of my emails and actually get slightly ahead on my day. There were times while talking to people that getting my laptop out was not an easy option but luckily I was able to show them everything they needed from my phone, not only that I was able to send the documents to them immediately.
Walk as much as you can!
The entire time I was in Cologne I had work to do and free time was not an option. So to see as much as possible I walked everywhere and I mean everywhere. By the end of the three days, we had walked nearly 60km each. Not only were we able to see some of Colognes architecture and sights but we were also able to get some exercise in. Whether travelling for work or pleasure this has an obvious effect on your daily routine so being able to actually walk was so important. Not to mention getting some free air into our systems.
Eat little and often!
And always have snacks in your bag, because meetings run on and you don’t always know when you will be able to stop for food. Be mindful of what you eat too, it’s so easy to just live of bad coffee and junk food. While on this trip we made an effort to during the day eat little and often, we chose high protein foods to keep us full for longer and to give us that extra energy boost we needed to keep going.
Do your homework!
Not only did I prepare my phone before leaving on the trip but I did my homework too. I mapped out routes of all the places we needed to go, which allowed me to find new opportunities along the way too. I found places to eat near each venue to save time looking while we were there. Not to mention travel to and from the airport. I researched and prepared for all meetings beforehand too so I had no surprises or last-minute prep to do. I can’t stress enough how important it is to prep before you leave. Because mentally there would have been no way I could have done it while I was there, by the end of each day I was utterly mentally exhausted.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
Get enough sleep!
You will never get enough sleep on a work trip but you can get enough to survive. Remember you are away for work not on a girls holiday or lads touring. Yes, have a glass of wine with your dinner just don’t do shots get your cute butt to bed and make the most of that precious sleep because you will need it!
Make time for dinner but be able to multi-task!
We decided that we would make a point of eating a proper meal in the evenings and believe me, we ate some calories. We also used the time to go over the day’s notes and make further notes. Getting out of hotel lobbies to work is so much more productive but use your time wisely. We went through our notes daily over dinner which made a massive difference when we got back, our notes were detailed and we didn’t need to try and remember everything upon our return which saved massive amounts of time.
There is no easy way to survive a work trip you just need to keep smiling and looking after yourself. The hard work will pay off in the end!