My job involves a lot of travelling. I am usually in a different office every day of the week and consequently I have to be very well organised and plan my schedules carefully. Travelling makes me tired and as it usually, but not always, comes before and after a day at work planning is crucial if I am to survive.
Having had depression for a long long time, I know what my triggers are and travelling could involve any number of them if things don’t go smoothly or if I get over tired. So how do I cope?
Firstly, as I’ve already mentioned I plan my work schedule, then plan some more. I fix dates 3-6 months in advance and make sure that both my diary and on-line calendar are constantly updated and they match. I understand that I have to be flexible, as do my clients, and communicating this to them is vital to avoid worrying about last-minute changes of plan. Just today for instance, when I have scheduled to be in Birmingham and Leicester, I may now have to travel to Glasgow instead. This will mean organising flights there and back, arranging transport to the airport and making sure that my son can be picked up on Friday evening if possible. The trip will also require me to stay away from home and so hotel accommodation is needed too. All this is in addition to cancelling my previous plans and meetings and before I actually do any work. It is a nightmare for anyone but for someone with depression it could tip me over the edge.
Fortunately I have help with the arrangements and so the administration for me is kept to a minimum but the worry as to whether I will have a bed to sleep in is still there.
Flexibility is also essential and I always have a Plan B and even Plan C ready to hand to cope with unforseen problems. I do all my travelling by public transport so that I can work on the train and make sure that everything gets done. This takes the pressure off and saves me the hassle of driving which to me would be dead time. The problem with public transport is that it can be unreliable. I am very fortunate and have few setbacks, but when things go wrong, they go wrong in a big way. So ways of keeping calm in a crisis are good to learn and I use a combination of deep breathing, reading and listening to soothing music on my ipod if I am held up.
Sometimes however travelling can push you to the very limit of your patience and it can be difficult to manage the stress. In one week in January a couple of years ago I had 1 trained cancelled, my lap top stolen, no carriage D when I had a seat reserved for carriage D, and a suicide delayed my train for 2 hours before I was diverted to another station altogether. These things happen and you need to be able to deal with such eventualities if you are to remain sane. That was a particularly difficult week but I got where I was supposed to be in the end as I invariably do.
Another way to remain comfortable when travelling is to dress appropriately. I can always spot the regular commuters in winter . Flat shoes or trainers, warm coats, wooly hats, scarves and gloves. Not a high heel or stiletto in sight. They may be fashionable and look gorgeous but are totally impractical when fighting your way to the underground or bus along slippery tiled floors or uneven pavements. I have seen plenty of stilettos get stuck in the escalators and it’s so inelegant! (but hilariously funny :))
Having everyone’s phone numbers plugged into my mobile is also essential. At least of something does go wrong and I am delayed I can contact the relevant person and explain the hold-up. I also keep a small travelling case packed with essentials like soap bag, underwear and medications etc so I only need to pack the specifics required for my next trip. There’s nothing more annoying than searching through the bathroom cupboard for spare toothpaste when there isn’t any. Grrrrrrr.
I’m sure that there are a million-and-one other useful tips to help when travelling regularly but they can be for another time.
Safe journey all.