I own an international travel company so naturally, I travel a lot for work. There are months where I spend more nights in hotel beds than my own. However, I am not one to complain. Traveling for work has afforded me great opportunities; I have met some incredible people in other countries and I have spent way too many boisterous nights dancing and sipping on national liquors all in the name of work. I have been able to keep up with a transcontinental schedule by creating a routine out of the chaos. I also called on some of my other globe trotting lady friends to get their input on how to stay balanced when traversing so many time zones.
ON JET LAG
This might be the worst aspect about travel. Jet lag can lead to fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and digestive upset. Basically, it sucks. My friend Kalsoom, who travels to Pakistan on a regular basis highly recommends taking natural melatonin supplements that help control your sleep. I always use the long plane rides and overnight flights as an opportunity to start to get my body adjusted to the time zone I will be landing in. Neck pillows, eye masks, large scarves that double as a blanket, and noise canceling head phones (per Kalsoom’s suggestion) make the process of avoiding jet lag much easier.
ON STAYING HEALTHY
Exercise and being active is of high importance to me and it is what helps manage my stress levels. Before I take off, I usually check to see if there is a gym near where I am staying and particularly, the classes they are offering. Classes are a great way to immerse yourself in the local community and culture. For example, I have taken champeta and zumba classes in Colombia, yoga in Mexico City, and signed up for beach boot camp on the shoreline of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janiero. Beyond that, I use running as a way to see the city or roam new neighborhoods. There is no better way to explore a city than by foot.
ON LIVING OUT OF A LUGGAGE
As soon as I arrive to my hotel, I unpack my luggage and organize everything. It takes a quick fifteen minutes, but allows me feel more settled in rather than on-the-go. Beyond that, I treat myself by bringing along some sort of luxury item so it feels special. For example, when I am home, my body wash is basic, but when I travel, I splurge on Malin Goetz Rum Body Wash. It might seem simple, but for whatever reason it works for me and gets me excited about my trips. It is all about the mental games you play with yourself when you are traveling so much.
On a practical level, I always take my time when preparing for my trip. Being rushed or anxious that I forgot to pack something important is not worth the stress for me. Rather, I block out a few hours in my calendar, use it as an excuse to catch up on podcasts and do it with calmness. I always try to pack a fun wardrobe where pieces can be mixed and matched and be used for all types of occasions. Jewelry (which, barely takes up any space) is an easy way to take an outfit from day to night as well as a bold lip color. Because I love exploring a location by foot, comfortable, but stylish shoes are the first items I pack. A similar pair to these or these, have worked really well for me.
ON MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS
I get asked about this a lot. My husband and I both travel a ton for work and this year has been particularly intense. We have had several occasions where I will be flying in and he will be flying out the next day. We are both at a point where we are hitting major strides with our careers, in our early thirties, and have both worked hard to get where we are. In short, travel is not slowing down for either of us. We are fully supportive of each other going big or going home for the next few years. That being said, our relationship is of high priority and we have seen (and felt) what happens when we are not proactive about maintaining it. One of the biggest challenges is communication and starting to feel disconnected. When he is sometimes sixteen hours ahead or I am not getting back to my hotel room until one in the morning, hopping on a call is difficult and sometimes the last thing either of us want to do. However, we make texting each other the best thing that happened to us every day a priority. That makes us feel like we know what is going on in each other’s lives and it keeps our work travel positive.
Maintaining relationships with friends and family can also be difficult when you are on the road. My friend Corey — who has lived in Nairobi, Kenya for the past few years and is often traveling to very remote and rural areas of the country– uses technology and social media to her advantage. Although she has tried to keep a blog, send long email updates to friends, or schedule the habitual Sunday night Skype call with her parents, she has found that social media makes it easier (and faster) to maintain relationships while abroad. Whether posting an Instagram picture of your travels, sending a Snap Chat of your commute to work, or even playing a quick round of Words with Friends, you can use the breadth and ease of technology to stay connected to those you care about. While no substitute for in-person catch-ups, these short, virtual “touches” help maintain the foundation for long-term, quality relationships. And that’s #nofilter.
Sticking to the above allows for work travel to continue to feel fun and exciting instead of starting to have it feel burdensome.
Katalina Mayorga is the CEO and founder of El Camino Travel. El Camino was featured in AFAR in their 2015 Vanguard Issue under, “Surprise Is the New Luxury” category, as well as Mashable, the Guardian, Marie Claire and Forbes for their innovative approach to travel. El Camino works closely with local tastemakers to curate off-beat experiences for small groups of people to unique locations. The trips all come with a creative photographer in tow, so that their travelers can thoroughly enjoy their experiences while ensuring that their memories are captured and that they will have great social media content. In addition, a percentage of profits are donated to a local social entrepreneur working to better his or her country.