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Traveler, Be Kind to Yourself

The week before I was supposed to fly to Las Vegas for BlogWorld, I got a cold. Of course. I managed to kick the cold with a few days to spare before my trip, but unfortunately (thanks to the rigors of business travel) I came home a little hoarse and feeling like I’m still recovering from that stupid cold.

Now, when I say “the rigors of business travel,” I’m not talking about the fun side of attending and speaking at a conference like BlogWorld – because I’ll be the first to admit I had fun. I still don’t particularly love Vegas, but I spent all my time with interesting people from the travel world – and spending a weekend with entertaining travel types is definitely a good way to have fun in my book. The thing is, I could have been anywhere. It was basically Conferenceville, USA. In truth, I think the fact that the conference was in Vegas actually was problematic for some things, not least hosting parties where it was possible to talk over the din of the music.

It’s the other side of business travel that I’m referring to when I say “rigors” – the part where you stay up way too late, don’t eat particuarly well, sleep poorly in an unfamiliar bed, and generally feel lost in a city you don’t really know. Yes, I had a good time at the conference. But it took me about four days to recover from a 2.5-day trip. That’s a crappy ratio.

Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, travel in general seems to be rougher on me these days than it used to be. I still jump at the chance to travel to Italy, but I know I’ll feel ill enough upon arrival that I can’t schedule anything in the first few days. I listen to Chris and Ian planning their trip to South Africa next summer for the 2010 World Cup and I’m envious as hell, but I know that if I struggle with a flight to Europe I’ll be a wreck after a flight to South Africa.

Does that mean I’ll never go anywhere that’s a long flight away? Absolutely not – I’m still harboring hope that I’ll figure out a way to cheer on the Italian national team next summer, and then go on one of the adventure tours our Africa guru Peter has dreamed up for us post-tournament, but I’d need to remember to give myself plenty of acclimation time.

It’s all about being kind to yourself, I think, and not expecting too much.

For instance, this past week the people behind the Travel Blog Exchange announced the location for next year’s conference. 2009’s conference, the first, was in Chicago – which was a direct flight from Portland but still rendered me useless that first day. The 2010 conference will be in New York, which can also be a direct flight from Portland (depending on the airline) but will likely turn me into the equivalent of a Jello salad in terms of my ability to think clearly.

Part of it is that I just don’t like flying all that much anymore, and the other part is that travel to New York means getting used to a three-hour time difference more quickly than the human body is really meant to. (I travel to the east coast every year to spend part of the holiday season with my in-laws, and I’m pretty incoherent upon arrival. Just ask them.)

So for next year’s TBEX conference, I’m already thinking about how I can make the trip easier on myself. I’ll ask my aunt and uncle if they’re going to be using the lovely apartment on Central Park West that they occupy about half of the year, so I might be able to have the comforts of a homey environment instead of an impersonal hotel. I’ll call upon the many dear family friends I still have in New York to help me feel welcome in a city I don’t know all that well. And, if I can swing it, I’ll get there a few days before the conference so I’ll be all settled in and acclimated by the time I’m supposed to feel smart.

But we’ll see how that all works out in the end. The best laid plans, and all…

(And really, who am I kidding? If I haven’t already started figuring out how I’ll make it to South Africa for the World Cup, it ain’t gonna happen. I’ll be stuck following my coworkers’ travels with a flight tracker, reading their blog posts about their experiences, watching the games on TV, and hoping I can taunt my whole office for another four years with the Italian national anthem.)