I’m not a big one for New Year resolutions. To give you an example, my resolution for 2019 was “not to be mocked by my wife or daughters”. Given that one of them (my daughters, that is) is a teenager, and the other nearly so, this went about as well as you might expect. At the beginning of 2018, I wrote a blog post with the top 5 resolutions for security folks. However, if I re-use the same ones this time round, somebody’s bound to notice, so I’m going to come up with some different ones. I do quite a lot of travel, so I thought I’d provide my top 5 resolutions for this year, which I hope will be useful not only for me, but also others.
(I’ve written another article that covers in more depth some of the self-care aspects of this topic which you may find helpful: Of headphones, caffeine and self-care.)
1. Travel lighter
For business trips, I’ve tended to pack a big, heavy laptop, with a big, heavy power “brick” and cable, and then lots of other charging-type cables of different sizes and lengths, and a number of different plugs to fit everything into. Honestly, there’s just no need for much of it, so this year, I suggest that we all first take stock, and go through all of those cables and see which ones we actually need. Maybe take one spare for each USB type, but no more. And we only need the one plug – that nice multi-socket one with a couple of USB sockets will do fine. And if we lose it or forget it, the hotel will probably have one we can borrow, or we can get one as we go through the next airport.
And the laptop? Well, I’ve just got a little Chromebook. There are a variety of these: I managed to pick up a Pixelbook second-hand, with warranty, for about 40% off, and I love it. I’m pretty sure that I can use it for all the day-to-day tasks I need to perform while travelling, and, as a bonus, the power connection is smaller and lighter than the one for my laptop. I’ve picked up a port extender (2 x USB C, 1 x USB A, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x HDMI), and I think I’m sorted. I’m going to try leaving the big laptop at home, and see what happens.
2. Take time
I’m not just talking about leaving early to get to the airport – though that is my standard practice – but also about just, well, taking more time about things. It’s easy to rush here and there, and work yourself into a state, or feel that you need to fill every second of every day with something work-related, when you wouldn’t do that if you were at home. It may be stepping aside to let other people off the plane, and strolling to the ground transportation exit, rather than hurrying there, or maybe stopping for a few minutes to look at some street art or enjoy the local architecture – whatever it is, give yourself permission not to hurry and not to rush, but just breathe and let the rest of the world slip by, even if it’s just for a few seconds.
3. Look after yourself
Headphones are a key tool for help me look after myself – and one of the things I won’t be discarding as part of my “travel lighter” resolution. Sometimes I need to take myself away from the hubbub and to chill. But they are just a tool: I need to remember that I need to stop, and put them on, and listen to some music. It’s really easy to get caught up in the day, and the self-importance of being the Business Traveller, and forget that I’m not superhuman (and that my colleagues don’t expect me to be). Taking time is the starting point – and sometimes all you have time for – but at some point you need to stop completely and do something for yourself.
4. Remember you’re tired
Most of us get grumpy when we’re tired. And travelling is tiring, so when you’re at the end of a long trip, or just at the beginning of one, after a long day in cars and airports and planes, remember that you’re tired, and try to act accordingly. Smile. Don’t be rude. Realise that the hotel receptionist is doing their best to sort your room out, or that the person in front of you in the queue for a taxi is just as frustrated with their four children as you are (well, maybe not quite as much). When you get home, your partner or spouse has probably been picking up the slack of all the things that you’d normally do at home, so don’t snap at them: be nice, show you care. Whatever you’re doing, expect things to take longer: you’re not at the top of your game. Oh, and restrict alcohol intake, and go to bed early instead. Booze may feel like it’s going to help, but it’s really, really not.
5. Enjoy not travelling
My final resolution was going to be “take exercise”, and this still matters, but I decided that even more important is the advice to enjoy the time when you’re not travelling. Without “down-time”, travelling becomes – for most of us at least – a heavier and heavier burden. It’s so easy, on returning from a work trip, to head straight back into the world of emails and documents and meetings, maybe catching up over the weekend on those items that you didn’t get done because you were away. Don’t do this – or do it very sparingly, and if you can, claw back the time over the next few days, maybe taking a little longer over a cup of tea or coffee, or stopping yourself from checking work emails one evening. Spend time with the family, hang out with some friends, run a 5k, go to see a film/movie, play some video games, complete that model railway set-up you’ve been working on. Whatever it is that you’re doing, let your mind and your body know that you’re not “on-the-go”, and that it’s time to recover some of that energy and be ready when the next trip starts. And you know it will, so be refreshed, and be ready.
1 – I’m using the Western (Gregorian calendar), so this is timely. If you’re using a different calendar, feel free to adjust.
2 – the list is literally right there if you follow the link.
3 – I considered reversing the order, but the middle one would just stay the same.
4 – I wondered if this is just me, but then remembered the stressed faces of those on aircraft, in airports and checking into hotels, and thought, “no, it’s not”. And I am informed (frequently) by my family that this is definitely the case for me.
5 – if you have one.
6 – and if that’s actually a relaxing activity…
7 – don’t mock: it takes all kinds.