If you travel a lot, you know that the quality and the quantity of your trips can make a big difference in whether you enjoy the experience or not.
And now a new survey of road warriors confirms that too much travel can actually lead to burnout — and a desire to spend less time on the road.
A recent survey explored what it calls “traveler friction,” defined simply as “the wear and tear caused by business travel.” Friction creates heat, and heat creates burnout: The survey found that 15 percent of the 757 business travelers it polled “are nearly burned out on travel.”
Most frequent travelers can handle one or two trips per month, but more than that, especially when trips consistently cut into weekends, and you too could face business travel burn out. And who wants that?
My solution: Just add on an extra day at the beginning and/or end of your business trips or vacations.
Since it’s summertime, we’ll tackle the vacation scenario first.
Let’s say you are taking seven days off for vacation later this summer. Should you leave on day one and return on day seven? That’s a recipe for a stressful vacation. Instead, set up “buffer days” at the beginning and end of your trip.
With this plan, you’ll only spend five days away, but they will be five high-quality days. Spend the first day of your vacation time packing, completing errands and getting your head into vacation mode. Then depart on day two. Spend five glorious days in your destination, and return home on day six. Then spend day seven as a buffer day ramping back up for work, cleaning up your email box, getting your calendar in order, and of course, unpacking and doing laundry.
When you get back to work, you’ll definitely have a nice vacation glow inside and out.
The same thing goes for business trips. When your company or client is sending you across the country or around the world on their dime, arrive a day early or stay a day late and add a day of leisure to your business trip.
For example, last winter I had to fly to New York City for a two-day meeting. Instead of flying all the way back to California right after the meeting, I decided to add on a buffer day. I chose not to fly home tired and worn out on Friday night and instead spent an extra night (Tip: Hotels are much cheaper in New York on Fridays- check on apps like HotelTonight for last minute deals, or call the hotel directly and strike a deal).
The next morning I got up, strolled over to the National Car Rental location in Manhattan and picked up a car for the day. The car was nearly brand new, and the day was brisk and bright. I took off north along the Hudson River for the two-hour ride to West Point to visit my nephew, a cadet there. He took me on a tour of the gorgeous and historic campus (pictured above), we had a burrito outside the school gates, and I was back on the road headed to Newark Airport that afternoon for my flight back to San Francisco.
What a great experience! Plus I saved my company a bundle by flying home on Saturday instead of Friday.
I was recently in Denver to report on new hotels there for BBC. When I was there, the city’s new rail link connecting downtown to the airport had not opened.
So I rented a car at Denver International, drove downtown and parked it while checking out the city’s latest and greatest hotels, restaurants and its newly refurbished Union Station. When my reporting was complete, I did not head home. Instead, I added on an extra day and used my rental car for a nostalgic trip up to Boulder, about 30 minutes north of the city, where I attended the University of Colorado back in the 1980s.
I had a ball cruising past my old haunts and taking a walk through the leafy campus on a fall day. I had a famous “Sinkburger” then drove back to the airport, dropped off the car and flew back to SFO with a big smile on my face.
Adding buffer days has become something of a habit for me– and I must admit it’s easier for me since I’m own my company and call the shots. No need to ask or permission from anyone. For example, I recently added on a day to a business trip to Atlanta to climb up nearby Stone Mountain—a huge slab of granite east of the city that nearly every plane landing at Hartsfield-Jackson International must circle around at least once (pictured above). Months before that, I jumped in a rental car in London, and made a fascinating and outdoorsy day trip out to Stonehenge.
What about you? How do you avoid traveler burnout? Have you made a habit of adding on buffer days to your vacations and business trips? Please leave your comments below.