I was asked by CNN International on ways to reduce the stress of business travel. Whether you travel for business, pleasure or both, stress can come into play from the minute you start planning to when you walk back in the door at the end of a trip. (Ever get home to a house which is messier than when you left? See what I mean!)
While I have tons of tips on how to reduce the stress in the myriad of areas involved in travel, there are really two tips that I have found most impactful over my years of travel. (1) Look at each trip as an adventure (yes, even a business trip!) and (2) Be nice!
I have found these two core principles to be the reason why I can answer “very few” when asked how many travel horror stories I have.
For example, I have had numerous cancelled flights, both in transit and on my way home. I have missed important events, lost revenue and incurred significant expenses. But to stand screaming at the airline gate agent when a flight is cancelled due to weather or a mechanical delay doesn’t do anything but raise your blood pressure – and possibly get you to the bottom of the list when it comes to the agent looking for the next available seat for you.
Instead, take things one step at a time and keep calm. Step 1: Get in line with the hundreds of other passengers waiting for rebooking – immediately Step 2: Get on the phone with the airline (yes, while you’re standing in line) and ask for their help in rebooking you. This is kind of like having a foot in two different grocery store checkout lanes and you select the one that becomes available first. Step 3: Be friendly to the agent helping you, whether they’re on the phone or in person. Good words to ask are “If you were in my shoes, what would you do?” Great advice is often offered with this simple question. When you treat the agent like an ally, it’s amazing what good comes out of it.
The same goes for hotel front desk clerks and maids, restaurant staff and literally everyone you meet along the way. A smile goes such a long way and has even unexpectedly rewarded me with extra chocolates on my pillow (my husband loves when these make it home!), upgraded rooms, wine and snacks sent to my room, first class flight and car rental upgrades and more – and most importantly really enriches my travel experiences.
The Foreword of my book, Business Travel Success: How to Reduce Stress, Be More Productive and Travel with Confidence contains a powerful story that conveys this same message. If you have ever been in a gate area when a flight delay was announced (really, who hasn’t been??) you will feel the power of nice in this Foreword by Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.