Sales kick off is in high gear right now, in almost every b2b tech company on the planet!
A lot of us are leaving behind our daily grind, our normal routines, our homes, and our children to travel to a large conference room in the middle of a fancy venue, for an annual sales reboot and global reunion of sorts. Personally, I’m headed to Las Vegas. Five days, in fact, at Encore at Wynn, in Las Vegas (and about 3 days longer than any trip you should ever take to Las Vegas, in general). My family and friends who hear about my travels are immediately envious of where I’m headed. That’s because they can’t even begin to comprehend how jam packed our days will actually be, from start to finish. “Have a blast!”, “I wish I was going!”, “You’re so lucky!”
We have shuttle busses picking us up at 7 AM every day and taking us to a large industrial park offsite, where we will spend 10 hours in training. The first day is a working dinner until 8 PM. On the second and third days, we will get right back on our shuttle busses and head directly to team dinners, awards nights and cocktail hours with our fried brains and heavy laptops, in tow. Beginning and ending with two coast to coast flights to and from, I am scratching my head wondering when I might have time to fit in bathroom breaks – never mind a workout!
If you are not well prepared, all of this travel will spell disaster, real fast. And while you might actually make it through the week in one piece on pure adrenaline alone, you will completely wipe out the moment you get back home. Thankfully I am still on my alcohol detox, which will ensure I get a good night’s sleep every night… but it’s still mission critical for me to ensure I do “all the things” while I’m away so that I am in control of my health, happiness, and well being.
With self-care and my overall sanity in mind, here is my list of travel “do’s” that I follow when I hit the road! Here we go!
- Pack gym clothes – don’t make excuses! This trip will be a tough one for a gym rat like myself. It’s a ritual for me to work out every day. Especially when I travel. I find I am more awake, more alert, and have the stamina I need to sit through sales training and long, long days without losing focus. I must get in a workout every day. So I work though my timeline. Working backwards from a 7 AM departure every morning – It will take me about one hour to get ready for the day (shower, curl my hair, catch up on emails and walk out the door) and likely 20 minutes to roam the hotel each morning to and from the gym (Vegas hotels are massive!). If I plan for a 3-5 mile run and some strength training that will likely take 45-60 minutes… well, all of that puts me at a 4:30 AM wake up time.
- Plan what you will wear. Pack no more, no less. I prefer to travel with a carry on. Even when they offer to check my bags for FREE at the gate, I decline. I like to have my things right by my side. First, it’s a good way to get through the airport in maximum time and second, it’s a good habit to start, in case you ever want to fly a different fight standby and therefore you are not beholden to your bags. For this reason, I pack every outfit, every accessory and every detail precisely for the day. Bonus points if you can repurpose the same blazer with a different dress on day 3 or your PJ’s for your workout gear on the last day!
- Sign up for travel rewards for planes, trains and automobiles – and stay loyal to your favorite brands when it makes financial sense. Always. This is a no brainer. Just recently I used a $400 hotel credit I got from Hotels.com for a bunch of work travel I had accumulated, to help knock off one free night that I redeemed for a family vacation next month.
- Bring a magazine, 📖 a good book, 🎥 a movie, and work – so you can have a variety of things to keep you busy. The Oscars were last night so I made my choice from one of the award winning films and downloaded a movie I’ve been too busy to watch otherwise. I am using the time to prep for SKO (sales kick off), write a few blogs, work on my book, and the million other things I never seem to have enough time to do! I am also hopelessly addicted to Shameless and I have downloaded multiple episodes on Netflix for moments when my brain just needs a break. (Although I have to admit I have to make sure I don’t hit “play” too early on this, because if I start this binge watching too early, then I will inadvertently abuse WAY too many hours on this mindless drama.)
- Drink extra 💦 water. Seriously. Travel will dehydrate you. I’m in a middle seat on this flight. I couldn’t avoid it and I am hating every second of it. My rule is always an isle when I have a choice. This way I can guzzle water by the gallon and I don’t have to wake up the sleeping man in the aisle seat to make my way to the bathroom. My water consumption is already suffering. I must catch up later in the day. This is annoying me already.
- Don’t cut it too close. Give yourself enough time to make it to/from meetings. If that means you leave the night before…then so be it. Sometimes I am tempted to cut corners when I travel and book things that will get me where I need to be, with not enough time to spare. It’s especially tempting when you will be gone for five business days (and your kids give your grief about it!) I must have analyzed this travel itinerary a hundred times over. At the end of my week away, I had to book a 7 AM flight home on Friday on Valentine’s Day (which my 7 year old has declared a day that should be illegal to travel :)) instead of the redeye Thursday night. I ALWAYS prefer the redeye so that I don’t lose the whole day for travel – but in this case there was simply not enough time to be at our final awards dinner and make it to the airport in enough time to take this 9pm flight on Thursday. It is what it is. What can you do?
- Decide whether you want to be tactical (meaning in and out) or if you have time to explore a new city. Plan accordingly and don’t second guess your decision. I tend to be tactical when I travel. In and out. (If you couldn’t tell based on my distress about the redeye home I just wrote about) I like to make my trips as quick as possible. In theory with five days in Las Vegas, you should have some time to explore something. Anything! But, I swear to you guys, I am worried I am not going to have enough time for pee breaks on this particular trip!
- It’s always going to be colder than you think on a plane ✈️ (I can thank my Mom for that one. She’s right .) Just take the damn jacket. It doesn’t matter that you are traveling to the West and that it’s supposed to be sunny every day. You will need it at one point or another. Bonus points if it’s the bulkiest jacket in your travel wardrobe so that you can save room in your carry on. You like how I did that there???
- If you don’t pack an umbrella, it will rain. Just sayin … If you spent as much time as I do curing my hair, you would understand this one. Have a plan to protect the hair. That’s all I have to say about that one.
- Make sure you get enough 😴 sleep while you travel. I am contemplating staying on East Coast time during this trip. I know it won’t be totally reasonable to think I can pull this off exactly, but I will be the one to call it a night sooner than others on my team. I also know this might make me a party pooper and I do have a bit of FOMO knowing I won’t be there long enough for the REAL debauchery to begin…but after all these years of SKO’s and the very convincing “one more drink” plea from my coworkers that I have succumb to one too many times, I know for certain that the ones who wake up not feeling like absolute crap in the mornings are the ones who win. As the saying goes, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.
- Expect delays, lines, crowds, annoyances, and general irritation along the way. When I first got into the security line, I was already reprimanded for having three personal items (vs. the prescribed two). Mind you, one was a crossover body bag that was literally the size of my iPhone. I like to travel with it so that I have easy access to my phone and my ID when I zip around the airport. Then I usually tuck it into my larger bag and it’s my quick hack for having my essentials handy at the airport. Usually no one ever calls me out as having that third bag. Today, she did. And not only that, I had to step out of the line, consolidate my bag, and then get back to the end of the line. Seriously? General irritation before a long week away from home? = Check. Solution = Just breathe, chill out, and move on.
- Repeat after me, “Travel is easy. Travel is fun.” I learned this one a long, long time ago. I find that repeating this phrase when things go wrong, helps me recognize that it’s all a part of the journey. After all, things are always – always – going to go wrong when you involve schedules with trains, planes and automobiles. The real beauty is in how you handle it.