10 Tips to Achieving Travel Zen

by Greg Cangialosi on May 27, 2009

This morning I was inspired to write about some tips for the business traveler, fittingly enough on my flight out to Dallas, TX. The question I asked myself was how does one stay sane with a business travel schedule that just won’t quit? I’m actually not sure that’s possible, but I can share with you the following 10 tips (In no particular order) that help me stay as close to a state of travel zen as I can. I hope these help you when you get ready to jet set again:

1. Show up ready to board. Always check-in and have your boarding pass in hand before you get to the airport. This allows you to skip the crowded counters, eliminates a potential delay, and allows you to head right for the security line when you get to the airport.

2. Never check luggage. I mean ever. As long as you can avoid it. I realize this can be tough for some people, but I can easily go 5 days on the road with a carry on suitcase and a separate carry on shoulder bag. This is key for travel flow, as it allows you to get right on the plane, and right off the plane then get on your way. More importantly, you never have to worry about losing your luggage, something that happens way too much these days.

3. Choose the right airline. Depending on where you are going you should give serious thought to which airline you choose. For business, Airtran & Southwest go almost everywhere for a decent fare, but if you are going cross country, Virgin America is the only way to go. They’ve got flying down.

4. Buy good luggage. Don’t take this one too lightly either. I have had a ton of luggage over the last few years and its all been beaten & broken. Nothing is worse than when the zipper on your suitcase breaks! If you travel a lot don’t skimp on the luggage. I finally upgraded to a nice set of Tumi luggage, a wheeled carry on and a shoulder bag. I can’t believe the difference its made in my travel experience and its only been a month.

5. Stay hydrated. Drink a LOT of water when you travel. Although you should drink water all of the time, drink it even more of it when you travel. Its easy to get dehydrated when you are at 30,000 ft. Stay hydrated it helps all around.

6. Boost your immune system. I try to stay healthy in general, but prior to flying I always go for that extra immune system boost of vitamins and nutrients with Airborne. Let’s face it, airplanes are pretty much germ central. Giving your body that extra boost can’t do you any harm at all. I try to do it before every flight, it’s easy and it doesn’t taste bad at all.

7. Always sleep in a good bed. This is probably one of the more important ones to me. Anytime business takes me away from home, I make sure I am comfortable. Fortunately, a lot of hotels these days have good beds and plenty of other amenities. I am personally a fan of Kimpton Hotels, they offer a good selection of hotels in almost every major market, and they have a great loyalty program (plus free wi-fi).

8. Make time to exercise. This is sometimes hard to do on the road, but I always bring work out clothes with me when I travel. I try to hit the gym at the hotel or hit a local yoga class if convenient. When you travel, sometimes a good sweat makes you feel great and completely rejuvenates you.

9. Pace yourself. Depending on your travel itinerary, you may, like I do, often find yourself faced with back-to-back activities day and night. Take it easy and find a pace. Watch your alcohol intake, and make sure you get enough sleep every night. You know what your body needs to be on point. Try to keep that balance (easier said than done, I know).

10. Eat well my friends. Yes, we all know it’s VERY easy to go off of your diet when you are constantly traveling. But it is possible to eat healthy and stay on track when on the road. I’m a pescatarian (I’m vegetarian but eat fish as well), so my diet is usually limited. I try to research decent restaurants and food establishments before I head out just to get a sense of what’s out there. This is hard with groups of people, etc, but do your best and try to eat well.

Have a tip you would like to add? Please do so in the comments, I’m always looking for more travel tips to streamline the process! What works for you?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

David Troy May 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Good post, Greg. I agree with your recommendations, with the caveat that checking bags is pretty much a necessity on most international flights. There's nothing more stressful than trying to be the first one onto the plane to secure overhead bin space. And on longer trips, you usually have more stuff than will fit overhead.

Also, as a private pilot, I got used to working with checklists. I keep a master travel checklist that I use when I pack, and I have sections for international items as well as things I need for recreational activities. So I just look over my list, make sure I have everything, and walk out the door. No more feeling stressed out because you think you forgot something.

If you can take the stress out of travel that's the number one way to make it more enjoyable. That all said, I really hate constant travel: it generates insane amounts of CO2. I try to opt for longer trips when I can and get the most out of being in a place. Less business travel is the ultimate zen.


djwaldow May 28, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Very timely post, Greg. I've been in Chicago the past few days for OMS and realized that I could have used this PRIOR to my trip. Excellent reminders. I tend to do very well with some (1, 2, 5, 10) but not so well with the others. Pace myself? Ha! If you've figured out how to actually do that, please share.

I'll add a few:

#11 – Make time to speak with your significant other (or another loved one).
#12 – Learn a bit about the city you are traveling to. Besides just the restaurants, read up on some of the culture, the history…

Thanks for the list!

DJ Waldow


Greg Cangialosi May 28, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Thanks Guys!

@dave totally agree the ULTIMATE zen is LESS biz travel :-)

@djwaldow – EXCELLENT #11, I should have also mentioned that if you are married or married and have children than make sure you have a webcam set up! I just finished a 20 minute video skype chat with my wife and 5 month old and that makes a BIG difference when you are away! Thanks again for commenting.



Ron Samuelson May 29, 2009 at 1:44 am

Hi Greg – purell is a good one for planes if you're crazy like me ;) Great tips. Safe travels and see you in Vegas – we will rock it!


Chris Maddox May 29, 2009 at 11:21 am


Great post (and great comments from others). You've captured most of what I'd say. I travel 75,000+ air miles per year and the toughest part for me is generally #10 (which goes along with #9). A few other notes:

- I agree completely on beds – this should be the top criteria for choosing a hotel. Marriott does this right also.

- If you travel a lot, stick to one airline as much as you can – elite status makes a difference in lines, boarding priority, rebooking priority, and upgrades.

- During your flight, get up once an hour for a short walk in the aisle. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) kills, and air travelers are at risk.

- If you travel often, get a membership in one of the airport lounges. Travel 4 times/year, it’s an expensive indulgence. Travel 40 times/year, it’s a small investment in your sanity. Note an AmEx platinum card gets you into some without a membership.

- Allow yourself too much time to get to the airport and to your gate. Then (see above) go to the lounge and relax or get some work done when you are there too early. Missing flights is the worst.



Chris Maddox May 29, 2009 at 11:22 am

(continued from above)

- Have the phone number for the airline programmed into your phone. If your flight is cancelled, calling them right away is much better than waiting in line (with everyone else from your cancelled flight) for rebooking.

- Always join airline and hotel frequent traveler programs, even if you think you’ll only book with them that one time. It's free, and members (even if not elite) tend to be treated better if problems arise.

- I have Boyt luggage – not as stylish as Tumi, but bulletproof and lifetime warrantee that is honored even if the airline kills your bag. Agree fully that cheap bags are no bargain.

- Keep up to date on TSA and airport security regs. Don't be surprised by new/modified regulations.

- Invest in a small multiple-outlet power strip or plug. Many hotel rooms (and conference rooms, etc) don't have enough outlets for all of our electronics. I have a very compact 3-outlet strip that I couldn’t part with.

- Finally, please offer me a nice job in Baltimore so I don't have to travel so much.

Cheers, and happy and afe travels,

Chris Maddox


Carl Dobbins June 17, 2009 at 9:55 am

No such thing as luggage that lasts. Buy only what you need. Buy cheap. Use it up. Throw it away. Move on.

I have a 18in smaller sized roll-on and a soft carry bag for both international and domestic travel. Never use checked bags. Travel light, to me, means a briefcase only trip and buy the small things you need on the road.

I follow the rule of thirds. Travel one third, sleep one third, relax one third. Travel like you live.

Never eat airline food.


Arsham June 19, 2009 at 7:24 pm

I like some airline food, especially if it is higher end like Virgin or Emirates.

I highly recommend Emirates airlines for middle east travel – if any of y'all go out there.


Greg Cangialosi July 14, 2009 at 3:37 am

@chrismaddox – AWESOME contribution to the post. There are lots of good ones there. I agree with Marriott as well. they do do it right. they have the biz traveler DOWN. Also great note on the Amex Platinum access, that thing has saved me more than once in regards to easy airport dealings.

@carlrobbins – sorry bro, dont agree on luggage. I have BURNED through bag after bag, good solid, well made / high end luggage can last you many many years. I agree with you if you traveling a handful of times a year. But if you are like me, your in an airport several times per month. You need good luggage, even if its carry on.

I do agree with the airline food comment :-) where do they get that stuff? :-)


Greg Cangialosi July 14, 2009 at 3:39 am

@arsham – never flown Emirates, but possibly sometime in the future. Virgin though, definitely right on. Its amazing once you discover the airlines that are not US based. They actually arent doing that bad. They treat their passengers like humans, they make travel comfortable, they feed you with REAL food, etc.. good stuff. I am sure Emirates rocks it. thx for reading.