Just the word “travel” sounds adventurous. Unless, of course, you travel for work, in which case it’s more likely to tie your stomach into knots than to pique your imagination. In fact, when you’re traveling several times a month or even more, you’ve got to get strategic to make your trips bearable. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Plan Ahead

Sure, sometimes you can get away with a last minute dash to the airport and a hastily packed bag, but for regular travelers, planning ahead will allow you to maintain a little bit of normality on the road.

  • Pack lightly but strategically. Don’t even think about checking that bag. Pack only the clothing you know you’ll wear, making sure to follow TSA guidelines carefully when it comes to toiletries and other limited items. Make sure to wrap any liquids, too, so you don’t find a mess on the other side. Bring a good pair of headphones to keep you entertained on the road, and consider buying a tablet or an ultrabook rather than lugging a large laptop. You’ll want to pack cash, too, as there’s a lot of tipping involved in travel, and you may even want to consider keeping a bag constantly packed with a duplicate set of clothes, so you don’t have to re-pack every time you head out the door again.
  • Research your destination. If you’re planning on squeezing in some sightseeing, do a little research on top sites ahead of time, as well as any restaurants or cafes where you can work during your off time. Business travel can also be a great opportunity to reach out to old contacts or people you know from social media to do a little networking while you’re in town, either directly for your company or to extend your own professional reach.

Develop a Routine

All of that said, for the frequent business traveler, extras like sightseeing and networking can be exhausting. If you’re finding yourself too worn down when it’s time to do the job you’ve actually been sent to do, it’s time to develop a travel routine that’s as normal to everyday life as possible — no guilt needed.

  • Stay on your own time zone. There’s no use getting adjusted to a new time zone if you’re only going to be in it for a couple of days. Keep your sleeping and rising habits as regular as possible.
  • Find the time for exercise. Whether it’s seeking out an in-airport gym (they exist!) or heading down to that single elliptical in the hotel basement, maintaining your exercise routine will keep you feeling normal and ready to tackle the day. You may want to consider joining a national gym chain, so you can workout in franchises across the country.
  • Eat right. Rich, fancy dinners are tempting to indulge in when the company is paying. But you’ll feel better if you stick to whole grains, lean meats, vegetables, or whatever you count as your normal diet. This can be difficult to accomplish on the road, but even a McDonald’s salad is better than the fries. Keep your own stash of healthy snacks like almonds or whole grain crackers or cereal around for those panicked moments when the meeting runs over and hunger hits.
  • Say no. Just because an old acquaintance from college notes via Facebook that you’re headed her way, doesn’t mean you have to meet up. Prioritize your sanity and relaxation first.

Book Intelligently

All booking methods aren’t born equal, nor are all flights. Take the time to do it right.

  • Use better booking tools. Business trips are usually a whirlwind, and timing is key. Use a tool like Hipmunk, which visualizes available flights on a timeline, rather than just by price. This makes it easier to see where various flights will fit into your schedule, and it’s also simple to email fellow traveling colleagues through the system to see what works for them. And, of course, if someone else is booking your tickets, make sure to double check the spelling of your name, so there are no misunderstandings at the airport.
  • Avoid red eye flights. You may feel like they allow you more time in your destination city, but fatigue is sure to take a bite out of your energy levels. Stick to reasonable hours.
  • Book your transport for there and back. Don’t forget to account for travel time to and from the airport in your schedule, and to make appropriate travel arrangements ahead of time, whether it’s a shuttle, a private car, or the train.

Buy Trip Insurance

If you don’t think trip insurance is necessary, you’re flying in the face of 124 million American who bought insurance in 2010. The fact is, if you travel frequently, you have a 100% chance of running into trouble, whether it’s canceled flights, delays, lost luggage, injury or illness while you’re away.

In fact, every 1 in 6 people who buys travel insurance will at some point make a claim. While credit cards and travel companies do offer some form of insurance, they often come at a high cost and don’t cover nearly as much as a travel insurance company would. All of these things make travel insurance a savvy investment. For the best rates and coverage, take advantage of all that a travel insurance comparison site has to offer.

Dress Well

It’s important to look presentable when flying, especially in business class, as you never what connections you might make. However, don’t overdo it with an uncomfortable heel or overly stiff suits. Make sure your clothing is something you could wear for a long time if you get stranded somewhere, and that your shoes will enable you to rush through the airport and stand on jerky shuttles between terminals. Or, at the very least, pack comfortable options in your carry-on.

With a little forethought and the right tools at your disposal, business travel doesn’t have to be a pain. Just do you research ahead of time, find the routine that works for you, and make the most of your time away on the company dime!

Business travel photo courtesy of Shutterstock