Narrow plane seats, weird smells, unfamiliar food, and disrupted routines – frequent business travel can be uncomfortable for very real reasons. But with a little prep, you can bring a piece of home with you wherever you go and make your trips less stressful and more effective.
The key to comfy travel is involving all five senses. During each part of your journey, think about what pieces of your home’s sensory world you can bring with you, and how you can translate that wherever you are.
Start with your travel ensemble. With all the smart fabrics and ingenious tailoring available in clothes today, you can find pajama-level comfort without looking like you’re, well, wearing pajamas.
“Identify any parts of your travel outfit that could be softer,” suggests Rebecca Davis, founder of The Glassy, a site that focuses on restful travel. Think loose and flowy sweater pants, or stretchy yoga bottoms styled to look like formal business trousers (Betabrand offers these for both men and women).
“Find stylish options that might not have, say, zippers that dig in or fabrics that are constricting,” says Davis, who recommends Lou & Grey Upstate Sweats.
When flying, carry a light and soft cashmere scarf with a dab of your favorite scent to keep you warm and comforted. A pair of thick socks will keep feet unrestricted and cozy while you nap or enjoy movies (and prevent any untoward smells when you remove shoes), says Davis.
Bring some of your favorite familiar snacks to help keep your stomach and mind calm. If you like herbal tea, pack a few of your favorite sachets. A cup will help keep you hydrated, warm you up, and provide the scents and flavors of home.
Once at your hotel, hygge it up. The room will feel less in-transit and more settled if you unpack your clothes into drawers and closets and put your suitcase away.
Call housekeeping to request your favorite pillow (most hotels offer a “choose your pillow” service); you’ll experience sleep more similar to that in your own bed.
If you don’t keep your sheets at home tightly tucked, “unmake” the bed by pulling out the edges of the sheets for a more relaxing fit, suggests Davis.
Set up a work station at the desk in your hotel room. Leave job-related items and your laptop there. Try not to work in bed; you’ll snooze better if you reserve your bed for sleeping and relaxing, Davis says.
Don’t forget your self-care routines. Take 15 minutes to have a steam or a sauna if your hotel offers one, or draw yourself a bath. Treat yourself to a face mask to unwind in your room after work is done. (Use sheet masks or dry powders to which you add water to avoid security hassles.)
Out and about
Connecting with the local people and culture – especially if you travel to the same area often – can be a way of creating a home-away-from-home when you travel.
“The more personal connections you make with people, the more memorable,” says travel psychologist and author Dr. Michael Brein.
If you’re shy, take it slow: “Dip your toe in, and then your foot,” says Brein.
After the initial moment of nervousness talking to a new person, having familiar faces, voices, and personalities can make regular travel feel much less alienating over time.
Learning some words in the local language will immediately make you feel more comfortable, says Brein. “Walk in the market streets, sit in cafes or restaurants, and give yourself a chance to interact with other people,” he says.
Returning to some of the same places each time you visit will turn you into a local, and there’s nothing homier than that.
The key to being a comfortable traveler is to “know that what makes you safe, secure, and comfortable in everyday life, and expand on that,” says Brein.
So if you enjoy plants at home, seek out a place to visit the local varieties at a botanical garden or park. If you love textiles, visit the local market.
To truly travel comfortably, bring home with you – and also seek out your home in the world, wherever you are.