Loneliness and business travel often go hand-in-hand, especially with frequent week after week travel. And that loneliness most often sets in when we’re alone in our hotel room, as this article on How to Stay Sane on a Business Trip by Steven Kurutz of the New York Times shares.
With 30 years of traveling for business, this feeling of loneliness is a nagging companion, always jumping out of my suitcase as I unpack, taunting me with “for now, you have no family, you have no friends - but you do have me!”
I know I’m not alone with this loneliness gremlin hitchhiking a ride in my travels, hopping out in my hotel room. Both male and female travelers have shared the same feeling and similar onsets of the loneliness feeling.
Why is the hotel room where this loneliness gremlin tends to show itself? Because that’s the time when our travels slow down, when we feel the void of missing our ‘normal’ life, when silence surrounds us.
From the time we leave our front door, we’re busy with the act of getting where we’re going. When we’re behind the wheel, we’re focused on the road. When we’re flying, the busy-ness of the airport keeps our attention. In-flight, we’re usually busy working, reading, watching a movie or sleeping - and while boredom is a common feeling in-flight, loneliness usually hasn’t reared its head yet.
At our destination, we’re engaged with a client, attending a conference, perhaps touring a city. In other words; busy, busy, busy.
But after closing your hotel room door, the absence of the busy-ness, of people, and of home sets in.
So how do you pack this loneliness gremlin back in the bag? Here are several ideas:
- Turn on the television to something you really enjoy watching, especially something that can make you laugh.
- Turn on your favorite music or a movie. I have a motivational music playlist that I especially love for kicking this gremlin to the curb!
- Take your laptop, tablet or a book to your hotel’s public area, especially when the hotel has a common area with tables, chairs, perhaps a fireplace or sofa.
- Ask the hotel’s front desk staff for recommendations of places to eat, walk, run, drink, see that are nearby and help you experience what that city has to offer. Some hotels offer a group run or group walk at certain times of the day - a perfect way to get a workout in and meet others.
- Instead of ordering room service, eat in the hotel restaurant. Bring your work or something else to do while eating, if that’s the reason why you typically order room service.
- Ask the hotel’s front desk staff for things to do within the hotel that may not even be on the hotel fact sheet (had you read it before arriving). I have joined tours of historic hotels, on-property yoga classes, chef events, manager receptions and more. Just ask “What ways can I experience more of this hotel?”
- Work out. Most hotels have some form of fitness equipment, some with really beautiful fitness centers with all the latest equipment. Or ask the hotel if they have fitness equipment they can deliver to your room (a yoga mat, for example).
- Get work accomplished. Get anything done while away that would otherwise take your precious time at home (especially expense reports!)
- Enjoy a beverage at the hotel bar and conversation with fellow travelers. While you may think male guests are more comfortable doing this than solo-traveling females, the comfortable design of hotel bar areas of late (along with wanting to avoid the four walls of their hotel room), are welcoming more women than ever. I either bring things to do over a glass of wine, or look for positive-looking, upbeat folks to have conversation with - not someone who’s lamenting his/her job and whose negative mood can cause my gremlin to reappear.
- Connect with family and friends via phone, FaceTime, WhatsApp, etc., especially those who we haven’t made time to connect with in awhile.
- Create a spa-like experience within your own hotel room. Ideas for this: Healthy Facial and Body Care Away From Home and A Spa In Your Hotel Room
I find that if I have a full plate of things to do, even something as quiet and simple as devouring a great novel, that the loneliness gremlin stays well hidden. Idle time = loneliness gremlin time. No gremlin time = productive, relaxing, engaged time spent at the hotel. I like this math! And the experience of your trip is all the better.
Share with fellow travelers in the comment section below on ways you stay out of 'hotel gloom.'