Business travel has a reputation as glamorous and exciting, a special time spent away from the office and cosmopolitan cities around the world.
But the realities of business travel can be far from glamorous. A review of scientific studies indicates that hitting the road for business ages the corporate traveler and increases the likelihood of several health issues.
What can you do about this if you frequently travel for work? At JTB, we believe that business travel should be as stress-free as possible for travelers, travel managers and executives so we do everything we can to facilitate work trips that limit unnecessary challenges.
And there are simple things you can do to create better travel experiences as well. The same review of studies makes recommendations for healthier business travel, including finding ways to manage stress and increase activity. Airport layovers can be the perfect time for you to engage in healthy activity. For your next multi-leg work trip, here are some things to do during a layover to help you relax and combat the side effects of business travel.
Take a Power Nap
Sleep tends to be in short supply during business trips. Sometimes your schedule has you rising before the sun. Actual flights are often filled with preparation for meetings, as well as responding to emails — if you can get in-flight Wi-Fi to work.
So use your layover time to take a quick nap. Falling asleep during a layover can be much easier if you think ahead. Bring along some earplugs or even an eye mask to help you zone out. Also, put your phone in airplane mode to ensure a call or text doesn’t rouse you. But, don’t forget to set an alarm that leaves you plenty of time to get to your connection!
Where should you nap? Always look for a space that’s as quiet and comfortable as possible. Some airports (like JFK in New York City) even have spaces dedicated to passengers stretching out and relaxing. Just make sure to keep your luggage close and your valuables hidden out of sight. Premium lounges are by far the quietest, safest and most comfortable places for power napping. If you don’t already have access to a lounge, check out our post on taking advantage of them as an airport upgrade that’s worth the investment.
Practice Your Meditation
Meditation is a practice that is known to reduce stress, improve concentration and increase happiness — all benefits that would come in handy while on a business trip.
And airports can be perfect for meditation. There are different types of meditation, and you can try whichever one most interests you. But, if for no other reason, consider meditation as a health-promoting activity during a time of travel that can be stressful and anything but relaxing.
The hardest part about meditating can be knowing where to start. The good news is: There’s an app for almost everything these days — including meditation. Insight Timer, Omvana and Stop, Breathe & Think are each options for iOS and Android that offer free meditation sessions for beginners.
Do a Little Chair Yoga
Have you ever heard of chair yoga? You don’t need a mat and studio to engage in this spiritual practice. Just find a comfortable seat, and try some of these relaxing chair yoga poses.
Worried about what people will think of you? Not to worry. There’s always a gate that’s virtually empty at most airports. Rather than hurrying to your gate and doing chair yoga there alongside your fellow passengers, stop at an empty gate, set an alarm, and enjoy the quasi-solitude of chair yoga before your flight.
If you’re interested in more traditional poses, many airports now offer dedicated space just for yoga. You can find enclosed rooms dedicated to yoga in Miami, Chicago and San Francisco, as well as other airports. Make sure your mat is in your carry-on bag, and take advantage of these yoga zones.
Treat Yourself to a Massage
What’s more relaxing than getting a massage? While you can do many of the things on this list all by yourself, no vendor required, you’ll have to pay for your airport layover massage. That said, it might just be worth it.
XpresSpa offers 53 locations around the world, most of which are located in the United States. Its services are designed specifically for passengers with limited layover time — get a foot, neck and back, table or full body massage in just 15 to 30 minutes.
Squeeze in a Workout
When you’re traveling for work, so much of your time is spent in cramped spaces. Hopefully you have status for an upgrade or at least a seat with some extra leg space, but traditional economy seats can leave you feeling squeezed.
So why not find time for a quick workout during your airport layover? You don’t necessarily need to change clothes and break a sweat — though you can inside some premium lounges. Just going on a brisk walk can help you stretch your legs and get away from the crowds.
Where can you find space to walk and get away from crowds at busy airports? Look for the corridors that connect terminals. Many larger airports now have moving sidewalks or even trains that connect terminals. But those same airports still have corridors where you can move terminal-to-terminal the old-fashioned way.
DFW Airport is a great example. Most passengers take the Skylink between terminals, which means that most of the old terminal-connecting corridors are virtually empty. At Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, you can even hit the Fitness Trail in Terminal 4, which offers mountain views and more. Take a stroll, stretch your legs and relax before your next flight.
Get Some Fresh Air
For longer layovers only: Don’t be afraid to leave the airport, get some fresh air and see the sights. Yes, most layovers are about an hour or so, but sometimes international itineraries or low-cost fares can leave you with more time to spend between flights.
Some airports are better than others for venturing into the city during a layover. Take advantage at airports that connect seamlessly to subway lines — Washington’s Reagan National, for example. If you have enough time, take the Metrorail’s Blue Line and visit the Smithsonian, or take the Yellow Line and grab a meal in Chinatown.
How are You Booking Your Trips?
At JTB Business Travel, we work with companies around the world, helping travelers navigate the stresses of work-related trips and helping companies make the most of their investment in travel. As your corporate travel agency, Common sense is the foundation of every tool and service we provide and every recommendation we make.