Women is...: Career


Early in my career, the phrase "business trip" had an exotic ring to it. I lived in a New York City apartment that was tinier than your average Marriott bathroom, and my main meal at home was a tuna fish sandwich. The very thought of someone else paying for me to fly somewhere, stay in a hotel and dine out was part of the thrill. But more important, business travel usually involved going somewhere I had never gone before and doing something I had never done. It was an adventure.

After a decade, this all began to change. My blood ran cold when sentences began with "Liz, can you attend a meeting in...?" The phrase "business trip" now summoned images of lying on the floor at O'Hare while waiting for "late inbound equipment." Or wandering around Denver in a rental car at midnight. Or realizing that I may be in Orlando, but my clothes and my business materials are not, in fact, in Orlando.

So, in 20 years, I have developed my own Zen of Travel guidelines, designed to help me preserve my mental health. Here are three from a much longer list:

Never think about what time it is where you came from. This is the surest route to mental exhaustion. Do not constantly remind yourself, as you are making your way to an 8 a.m. breakfast meeting, that it is really 5 a.m. for you. This is not healthy thinking.

Never think about what time your flight is scheduled to arrive. Flight schedules are irrelevant. When I arrive at an airport, I put myself into a Zen state wherein the journey has its own life that I can neither predict nor change. If I constantly remind myself what time I was supposed to get somewhere, I will go mad. My Zen of Travel maxim says this: When I get there, I am there, and not a moment before. This concept may be hard to grasp at first, but it will save you from possible incarceration when you are tempted to slug the reservations agent who says your flight has been rescheduled...for tomorrow.

Never wear clothes on the plane that you could not wear to your business meeting, even on night flights, when pajamalike garments are SO tempting. Bags go awry. We all know this. But I can tell you from experience that the more important the luggage, the more likely it will end up somewhere other than where you are. A corollary to this is to never, ever pack the presentation you are supposed to deliver. And never ever, ever pack your house keys or car keys. Nothing is worse than getting home and not being able to actually go inside. I once came home from a three-week trip and had to sleep on the couch of my upstairs neighbor. No one should have to see me THAT cranky.

This is just a sampling from my Zen of Travel Mental Health Rules. I will share more in the future. Do you have your own? If you read this far, I suspect you do. Go ahead and post on our boards. I'd love to hear from you.

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