There are a few universal truths in this world. The sun will always rise in the east and set in the west; the leaves will always turn colors in the fall; and business travel will always be stressful.

Wait, what?

Sure, business trips can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean they have to be.

What’s more, traveling for your business is undeniably tied to its overall success. According to the U.S. Travel Association, for every dollar companies put into business travel, they receive $12.50 in return. Beyond the bottom line, though, travel is a fantastic way to grow both personally and professionally.

Business travel doesn’t have to be a necessary evil; in fact, it can be productive and fun if you know how to leverage the right tools.

What’s the Deal With Business Travel?

First, we need to determine why people view business travel as an inherently stressful chore.

CWT Solutions Group wanted to get to the root of travel-related strain, so it surveyed 6,000 business travelers on 33 factors that could trigger stress. As it turns out, the 33 factors all fit into three major categories.

  • Lost time: I can’t get my work done on this long-haul flight.
  • Surprises: My flight has been canceled.
  • Routine breakers: I don’t want to throw off my diet while I’m on the road.

Inconveniences such as misplaced baggage, no internet access, and flying economy made up the majority of stressors for business travelers.

CWT also found that, on average, women reported higher levels of perceived stress than men, especially if they were mothers. Stress also tends to accumulate over many trips, and travelers who habitually “lose time” get more frustrated than normal. The longer people travel, the more stressed they are, especially if they have partners or children waiting for them at home.

Making Business Travel Productive and Fun

Luckily, alleviating these points of stress is easier than you may think. Here are a few tools you can utilize during your next business trip to reduce stress and maximize your time away from home base:

1. Airline Programs

Most airlines offer perks through programs specifically targeted at the small and medium-sized business market. Beyond offering travelers frequent-flier miles, these programs also offer your business additional incentives for loyalty.

Some credit card providers offer perks for businesses that use their cards. For instance, cardholders of the American Express Business Platinum Card get access to the Centurion Lounges at airports including LaGuardia and Dallas-Fort Worth.

These clubs offer lounge access, so you can stay comfortable while you wait for your flight. The lounge usually comes with free Wi-Fi (so you can get your work done) as well as complimentary snacks and drinks. At the very least, member lounges offer a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy airport.

2. Online Travel-Planning Services

If you’re a smaller business, it’s highly unlikely you have a travel planner on staff. As a result, identifying price breaks and managing the booking process often lands on your shoulders. Luckily, myriad digital tools exist to help you handle the logistics of travel with ease.

Travel-booking sites will sort through and prioritize flight options as well as dining and lodging so you can compare rates all at once. There are also many apps in circulation to reduce travel-related stress.

For instance, rather than race through the airport looking for the arrivals and departures board, you can see the status of your flight in the palm of your hand with FlightBoard. Once you’re on the ground, AllSubway can map out the subway systems for more than 160 major cities. Finally, Expensify helps business travelers put together expense reports, importing data straight from a bank account.

3. The Power of Relaxation

If you currently spend more time tending to your stress than being productive on a business trip, you’re not alone — but you’re not doing your body or your business any good. Not only is stress a detriment to your personal health, but it also costs American businesses more than $300 billion every year.

We now know that work-life balance is crucial to reducing stress. Perhaps not surprisingly, when people are actually allowed to relax without fear, they perform with more zeal. Build bleisure — a combination of “business” and “leisure” — into business trips to take off the pressure of travel.

An Orbtiz study found that 72 percent of business travelers add leisure time to business trips. What’s more, 81 percent of those people say they would do it again. So on your next business trip, carve out some time for yourself to visit a nearby landmark or take a refreshing hike — and encourage the same kind of behavior in your colleagues.

For years, people have bought into the idea that business travel and stress had to go hand in hand, but that’s simply not the case. When you invest in resources like these, you and your colleagues will start seeing travel as a way to grow not only from a professional standpoint, but also a personal one.

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