Tips for the Female Traveler:
Comfort and Sanity on the Road  
By Dr. Donna Goldstein

You wake up with a stiff neck in a strange room that is too hot or too cold on a bed that is too hard or too soft and smells slightly musty. You crave a nice cup of your own favorite blend of coffee or tea, before you throw yourself in the shower, which you suspect will also be too hot or too cold. You need to glance at the Wall St. Journal and a local paper to prepare for your remarks at an important business meeting this morning. How can you ensure that you'll be at your best when you're away from your home turf?

As a long time business traveler, who has spent as many as 200 days a year on the road, here are twelve suggestions which can help to keep you comfortable, sane and peak performing on the road.

Choose your hotel wisely. Of course you want a safe and secure location. Beyond that, decide what amenities are important to you. I prefer hotels with a health club on premises, 24 hour room service and coffee pots, refrigerators and irons in the rooms. (Bathrobes and clock radios are nice, too.)

Ensure that your business and communication needs will be met. Does your room have two phone lines? Call waiting and voice mail? I have lost way too many critical calls, or have had messages mangled by operators in hotels without these essential services. Do they have a business center? Will you have access to computers, printers, modems and faxes when you need them? I recently checked into what was supposed to have been a business class hotel at 4:45 pm on a Tuesday. The business center was already closed, and I was told the charge to rent a computer was $250 per day!

Hotel rooms, even non-smoking ones (which I always order), generally smell musty. To remedy this I always bring a candle with a scent that pleases me, and a small potpourri spray. If you complain about the way a room smells a housekeeper will come with a heavy duty disinfectant spray, making the room smell even worse than it did in the first place.

Keep your travel bag packed at all times and scout around for  miniatures of your favorite products. Bring extra supplies of

any essentials in separate waterproof pockets for individual items for protection.   An entertainer I know ruined her favorite gown when some nail polish remover leaked into her suitcase. If you are going to put products in miniature bottles yourself, be sure to label them. Most hair and skin products are clear or white, and its annoying to have forgotten what you put in that little bottle. Bring extra supplies of any herbs or vitamins that you might use. Airplanes are notorious for helping to spread colds and flus so always pack echinacea and other remedies.

Get enough exercise. Its easy to use travel as a way out of your fitness routine. Do some yoga or stretching exercises in the morning or after you've arrived to get the kinks out. If there is no health club or pool, take a brisk walk in the morning. It will clear your head, If it's too cold to walk outside. I walk the hotel corridors (away from guest rooms).

Cramped airplane seats, and dragging suitcases, briefcases, and now laptop computers can wreck havoc on even the healthiest woman's back neck and shoulders. If you are going on a long flight, bring an inflatable neck pillow. If you are still sore after you check in, call for a massage.

Most hotels will have listings of "legitimate" massage therapists of both sexes. In terms of your own comfort and productivity the next day it is well worth the $50-$60 spent.

Long business trips can get boring. I get tired of the faces of even my favorite clients and associates if we've already worked a 12 hour day. Carry easy inspirational reading material - my current favorite is Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple abundance - as well as favorite magazines, or a novel you've been wanting to read or finish. Be careful not to use too much TV or alcohol to "numb' yourself after a long day Avoid the minibar!

Explore restaurants, museums, plays, galleries - even if you are alone. I have found wonderful and interesting restaurants within minutes of my clients that no one had ever been to. Though I know we often have to do it, I believe much of the time spent in smoky

hotel lounges is unproductive and that  many business travelers have not considered alternative ways of spending their evening  or "off' hours.  Since you will undoubtedly get hungry or thirsty in the middle of the night or an hour before your business dinner, keep a stash of fruit or your favorite low-fat snacks and instant coffee or tea.

Use your free time to catch up on correspondence or personal calls. Just because you re on the road for business doesn't mean you need to be working every waking moment You'll feel more refreshed in the morning if you are able to take a little time for yourself. I always carry my journal and try do some writing on the mail.

If you're going to be anywhere for more than a night, try to get some fresh flowers or a small plant in your room. You can often take them off of the room service trays. Andrew Weill, M.D. has written about the importance of fresh flowers and plants to both our physical and emotional well-being.

If you will be returning to the hotel again, get to know the front desk staff, manager or concierge. One of my colleagues frequently gets room upgrades and other amenities because of the relationships he establishes with front office staff. If they deserve it, fill out comment cards complementing staff, or point out positive experiences to management. These will be remembered when you return.

And finally, remember what your mother told you. Do a quick walk through your room before you check out. Look under the bed and on the hanger behind the bathroom doors. Hotel staff tell me they are amazed at how often travelers leave things. Then if you try to come back or call it's too late I lost one of my favorite pairs of shoes, when somehow I only got one shoe in my suitcase. When I called the next day and after many delays, was finally put through to housekeeping, it was difficult too find anyone who spoke English, and when I finally did, it was determined that someone had thrown away my missing shoe.

Business travel-rewarding, exciting, but not nearly as glamorous as many people think. Using these tips can help you increase your chances of having a successful and productive trip!

Women's Business Journal June-1999


Dr. Donna L. Goldstein is the Managing Director of Development Associates International. She helps individuals, teams and organizations worldwide to enhance productivity and effectiveness. She may be reached at (954)893-0123
Development Associates International
3389 Sheridan St. #309
Hollywood, Fl 33021