Business travel is one of those necessities, especially when you own your own business. You may find that you are traveling quite often and, unfortunately, have a lot of free time on your hands in the evenings or during a weekend overstay. For many business travelers, it’s simply not possible to bring families along. As such, the tolls of traveling can wear you down. It is not uncommon to get lonely when you are away for even short periods of time.
There are ways you can combat this loneliness when traveling on business. Some of them may lead you to discover new friends or learn a little bit more about the culture where you are visiting.
1. Use Inexpensive Technology to Keep in Touch
Most business travelers carry a laptop with them – it is their lifeblood back to the business. One easy way to keep in touch with family and friends while on the road is to invest in a small webcam to hook up to the laptop so you can video conference with them to catch up on life back home and share with them some of your traveling stories. There is something special about not only being able to hear the voices of the people on the other end of the phone, but also to see them as well. In a sense it gives the feeling that they are just in the next room or right there beside you. Most webcams can be had for under $100 and all the popular instant messaging programs support them. Another benefit to investing in a webcam for travel is it lets you have teleconferences with people back in the office should the need arise – again, there is something about putting a face to a conversation that makes it stick!
2. Experience, life — wherever you are.
Don’t put your life on hold simply because you’re not on your home turf. If you find you are going to be in an area for a while, take the opportunity to learn more about the culture and local activities. Often business hotels are filled with people just like you — sitting around in the evenings with very little to do. Strike up a conversation with someone and ask the concierge about local attractions that might interest you or a group of people. Many business hotels nowadays are arranging social events in the evenings, such as group outing to a local ballpark or museum. They are not only wonderful ways to get out and enjoy some of the culture of the area, but they can also be a great chance to network with others — you never know who you will run into. Case in point: it is a well known fact that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are both avid card players and participate frequently in both local tournaments and online games. Just imagine being able to talk to one of those guys in a relaxed atmosphere!
3. Perform some due diligence.
When in Rome … check out the competition! Use the time you spend somewhere to visit businesses such as yours as the opportunity arises. It is a great way to get a feel for the competition or to see what trends are happening in your business segment that you might not be aware of. Pick up the phone book in your hotel room and “let your fingers do the walking” as you find what types of businesses similar to yours are in the local area.
4. Be of service to your customers and in touch with your industry.
Traveling is also a great opportunity to pay courtesy calls to customers who may live in the area, or to pay a visit to a company that you do business with. Many times, depending on the type of service or product your business provides, customers can be thrilled to get a personal “house call.” Be sure to arrange these types of visits well in advance so you can plan out your time. The same goes for visiting other businesses you work with or buy items from. You can often build up a personal relationship with them by paying a call when you are in the area which can pay great dividends down the road in the form of discounts, special offers and customer referrals.
5. Engage in personal development.
Take some time out for your personal growth and to nurture your creativity. Use your down time when traveling to build your personal and life skills. It may be a great time to take along those DVD’s you bought of a personal development seminar, or to finish reading a book you’ve put off for so long. Take that telecourse or download some audio casts to your mp3 player. There may even be local events you can attend that focus on a particular topic you are interested in. Use the power of networking and the Internet to do your research beforehand and you will find that more often than not in larger cities you can fill your free time up nicely and help advance your life and your business at the same time!
Business travel doesn’t have to be a lonely time. Spend your time wisely. Plan ahead and make some time for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
How have you found ways to rid yourself of isolation while away from home?
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About the Author: Husband, Father, Friend, Lifestyle Coach, Author, Educator, and Entrepreneur, David B. Bohl is the creator of Slow Down FAST. For more info go to Slow Down Fast and visit his blog at Slow Down Fast blog.