It turns out I’ve actually got quite a few tactics to increase my comfort and decrease problems when taking business trips with chronic pain. Who knew? I’m going to need ’em soon–I’ve got books to write and will be spending most of my summer traveling around California doing research for a straight-up guidebook and for The Imperfect Traveler.
In the meantime, here are another bunch of tips for business travel with pain:
Take advantage of local creature comforts.
If the hotel’s got in-room massage or an on-site spa and I’ve got a break in my meeting schedule, I’ll get the massage. I usually bring a swimsuit in case there’s a pool and/or hot tub that’ll let me get my float on. I also like to take long hot baths in hotel tubs–I even bring my own epsom-based bath salts to up the healing powers of the water.
Stretch and exercise gently every day.
If the hotel’s got walking trails adjacent, I’ll try to walk a little bit every day–I’ll even suggest hitting the trail as an alternative to cocktails if my coworkers seem amenable. I always stretch in my room in the evening; some hotels offer yoga mats and a yoga channel on TV. Failing the outdoor walking, I’ll check out the on-site fitness center.
Enjoy some downtime.
I need some me-time every day, especially when I’m dealing with the hectic schedules and intense interpersonal interactions of a business trip. So even if all I’ve got is 15 minutes in the morning and a half-hour at night, I make the most of it. Sometimes my downtime doubles as exercise time or bath time or hot tub time. Other times I use my alone moments in my room to meditate. And sometimes I just watch some TV. Whatever feels best.
Tell a trusted colleague something about the pain problem.
If someone I trust thoroughly is traveling with me, I may tell him some basics about my health problem I might give him my medical info sheet so he’ll know how to handle me if I have a major flare. This person almost certainly will NOT be my boss, for specific legal reasons.
This can be a tricky one–you may not feel comfortable or be able to tell anyone you work with about your medical condition. Which means you need to be obsessive about your self-care so it’s less likely that you’ll have an unmanageable flare while on the trip.
Talk to a friend who lives at the destination.
If I’ve got a friend who lives wherever I’ll be for the biz trip, I’ll get in touch with her before I appear in town to let her know I’m coming and to ask for a specific favor with regards to my health. That favor: to hold onto a copy of my med sheet, and to be willing to take a call from me, a coworker, or the local hospital should something go wrong.
Bring a friend along.
My housemate brings her spouse along on most of her overnight business trips; he does touristy things during the day while she’s working, then they hang out together at night. If she were to have something go awry with her health while on a business trip, Spouse would be right there to help her with anything she needed. Plus he’s there for air travel, he can drive the rental car, and he can deal with other pesky energy-draining travel tasks.
Tell someone at home about the business trip.
Failing the three suggestions above, I tell someone at home where I’m going and provide him with the details of my itinerary. It’s not an ideal situation, but in a crisis he can either help by remote control (which is easier these days what with smart phones and secure medical web communications) or even fly out to my location if the situation requires.
Have you got any tricks you use to get through a business trip with your medical condition?
How do you feel about the idea of telling a colleague about your pain while traveling?
Please comment here–we’d love to read about your experiences!