Did you know the average business traveler spends between 48-74 nights away from home?
For someone who doesn’t travel much, they seemed surprised, even shocked by this number.
Those that travel in this range, completely agree. And those of us who travel that amount by Memorial Day, know what it’s like to try and live in a home away from home. Most do it very poorly and just survive.
Or as I often say, “getting by, not getting better”.
But does it have to be that way? Just getting by on the road?
I remember before I started traveling for a living, how much I looked forward to staying in a hotel. The criteria and expectations were so different back in those simple, naive days.
When I travel with my family and the kids, often times it’s as simple as throw the luggage down, grab the swimsuits, and head to the pool. But now it’s a whole different ball game with business travel especially traveling the amount I’ve done year after year now.
Here’s the reality: A hotel room can make or break a trip especially that first night.
My normal routine before I became focused, okay, obsessed with maximizing my energy on the road, was one of the following after I opened my hotel room door:
1. Chuck my carry-on wherever to deal with whenever, turn on the tv, and crash by relaxing on the bed
2. Kind of unpack and leave the room immediately for bigger and better things (never found out what exactly was bigger and better other than my gut and my next big meal or drink)
But I realized these two approaches always back-fired on me.
Later in the evening when I eventually came back to my hotel room, aka “home away from home” since I had been negligent to set up this temporary home environment, I always had negative consequences:
- My room was a blast furnace
- My clothes were a wrinkled mess
- I couldn’t find anything in my carry-on because it was late and dark and I was impatient and I felt unorganized and frustrated
It came down to a lack of preparation on my part to set up my home away from home to work best for me. I was viewing my hotel room as a place to CRASH not a place of ENERGY. And the irony is it would only take a simple plan and a few minutes of my time to solve this disorganization and frustration.
I wanted and needed my hotel room to create energy not consume energy for me and a few seemingly simple tweaks could actually give me a quick boost of energy. This is what I came up with and I now live by the acronym HOME. The reality is where I’m staying 1-5 nights per week (before Covid-19) is my home while I’m away from “real home.”
Before we get into “the details” on how to make the most of your hotel room we have to discuss how I make sure this HOME habit is going to happen.
I had to have a trigger so I can change my old habits of chucking my carry-on wherever and crashing on the bed. The trigger is when the key opens my door. Once my key opens my hotel room after check-in, I go through a four-step process found in an acronym: HOME
How to Immediately Take Control of Your Home Away From Home on Business Travel
1. Home – Hang up and unpack
Okay, my hotel room is open and I have a choice what to do next. The easy thing is to chuck the carry-on in the corner, grab the remote, and jump on the bed. Or maybe the only thing you get out is your laptop to start cranking out some work.
I want to encourage you to do the “H – hang up and unpack. The very 1st thing I do is find the luggage holder, find the ideal spot in the room and immediately hang up my dress clothes. I always have nice clothes that need to be hung up so here’s my chance.
I then unpack my entire carry-on. Huh? Why? It’s simple and psychological: I don’t want to feel like I’m living out of a suitcase. And the reality is it only takes a couple of minutes. I’ve done it so many times, I can knock it out quickly.
I have my non-hanging clothes in packing cubes so they’re easy to pull out of my carry-on, open up a drawer, and either unload the contents or if the drawer is large enough, I simply set the packing cube in the drawer wide open for easy access.
Lastly, I take my toiletry bag into the bathroom and unpack it. All of it. I HATE scrounging through that small bag for what seems like hours to find “that one thing” I need.
I take a washcloth or small towel and set everything out. (I’m a little OCD in this way so you don’t have to take it as far as I do). I can literally do this H Step in under 2 minutes.
2. hOme – Optimize the space
Next, I begin to tailor the room to fit me. It is MY room until I leave. Now, I’m not moving walls or taking down pictures but I am making tweaks that make me feel more comfortable. The 1st thing I do is remove the clutter. I don’t need or even want all the magazines, advertisements, etc. laying all around the room. In one swoop, I grab everything out and put it in a drawer. The next thing I do is adjust the furniture. I know, crazy, right? I’m not moving the bed or redecorating but often I’m making two potential moves:
The Desk – if I’m going to be spending any amount of time in a workspace, I want to tweak it to fit me and this usually means changing the location to face a window if I can move it. I also see if there’s a way I can adjust the height to make it more of a stand-up desk (a personal thing with me).
The Chair – I’m a voracious reader (Energy Habit Four – Develop) so if I can put the chair in a more optimal location, again, by a window, all the better. I start my morning with reading so I like to have the location all set and ready for me.
Optimizing the space is a “feel thing”. If it’s a value to you, you just need to act on it. You’ll be surprised what this can do for you. If you’re not sure, just try it. A fellow business traveler on a plane told me about this idea. Now, it’s part of my routine.
How can you maximize the room layout to create energy for you? This O Step takes me only 2 or 3 minutes.
3. hoMe – Manage the room temperature and scent
Ah, the temperature. It’s never right. I’ve lost track how many times I walked into the hotel room and began to sweat. Not cool. Literally. I sweat enough in air conditioning, I don’t need any help in a warm room!
My HOME routine means I MUST change the temperature of the room to what is comfortable to me. Not my wife or my kids, so it’s what I like and prefer. Often, I set it for my ideal sleeping temperature which is usually around 66 degrees. I know, one cool cat.
Another tweak I do with the room temperature has more to do with the room scent. Here’s my Scent Hack: I bring cotton balls and put a few drops of essential oils to change the scent of the room.
This is great when you come back into the room and have a comforting scent that is calming and familiar. I love the scent of eucalyptus so I put some on a cotton ball, and then put it into the vent in the wall. Voila.
At night I’ll often change the essential oil to lavender to help me sleep (I also put some on my body). Don’t knock it until you try it.
Think about your ideal room temperature and scent. Chances are you’re put little to no thought into this question especially when you enter the room and part of your routine.
This takes me a “cool and stinkin” 1 minute.
4. homE – Exercise
After I complete the 1st three parts of the H.O.M.E. acronym, it’s time to move the body especially on a travel day and quite possibly a busy day depending on what time I make it to the hotel.
And I always have a plan. If I have a short amount of time, I can drop to the floor and do a few minutes of an ab workout or pushups or burpees that include pushups and work my abs.
If I’ve had little activity, I may do just 10 minutes of a High-Intensity Interval Workout (HIIT). You’d be surprised how much you can get your heart rate up and how much better you’ll feel in just 10 minutes.
Many times I want to find the hotel fitness center and just do dumbbell workouts. If I have more time, I may want to visit a local gym to workout and leverage the sauna or steam room or plunge pool. I do this by a unique pass provided by Localfit.
But you need to have a plan. Once I open that hotel room door, I need to know how much time I have, what I feel like doing, and what I’m going to do. Don’t believe the lie that you don’t have enough time for exercise.
If you’ve read my book, I say often: Something, anything, is better than nothing. This is my BIGGEST boost of energy for wherever my evening will lead me. This takes me anywhere between 5-30 minutes. And worth literally every minute.
- Start with one of the four above that would make the biggest impact on your energy if you were to implement it. For example, the 1st one for me was simply changing the room temperature. Sounds silly but I HATED coming back to a warm room after a long day and it felt like forever for it to cool down especially if I had to be out late that day.
- Hanging up my clothes and fully unpacking was more of a mental thing at first but led to not consuming needless energy looking for things and feeling like a visitor in my own room.
- What I enjoy the most through my stay is Optimizing the Space. Changing the room to fit my flow has made working (Perform Energy Habit) and reading/thinking (Develop Energy Habit) so much more enjoyable to me.
- Look for something that will be a simple and impactful change and you should see immediate feedback on its effectiveness. Remember, the goal is taking ownership of your hotel room to create not consume your energy.
It only requires a short amount of time but can have quick and tangible results.
So, wherever you are on the road, do something, anything, just not nothing to master the business travel life. Leverage that road to becoming an elite road warrior today.