There’s this idea that when you’re on a business trip, downtime translates as ‘leave me alone’. For some that even means logging out completely, so they can catch up on Strictly uninterrupted.
I’m not that guy, and nor are most people in my circle to be honest. We like to stay connected. The nature of business travel is such that it’s impossible to be logged in during the day. When I’m in front of the camera or at a meeting, for instance, my phone is naturally switched off.
Which means at the end of a hard day’s work, when I’m relaxing in my hotel, I like to catch up with the little things I enjoy. I respond to texts from friends, read up on what’s happening in the news or watch a show I’ve been meaning to see for ages.
Maybe even a few years ago, I wouldn’t want any of these activities disturbed, but we live in a multi-screen world. We can watch, write and check as we go along. The nature of my work means I can get a work email at any time, but that’s fine as well. I appreciate that some subscribe to the ‘no work when you’re not working’ rule, but I prefer to know when something comes up rather than worry about it. You soon learn to separate what’s urgent from what can wait.
So really, my perfect downtime is to have all the devices I need around me – which is why I have a tech checklist to make sure I’m not caught short when away on a business trip without something essential.
I’m not the sort of person who can be zen about it if I’ve forgotten to bring a charger or an HDMI cable. Only yesterday I left my phone in a taxi and that sinking feeling I had until I got it back was dreadful. There have also been times when I’ve found myself wanting to listen to an audiobook or a podcast, only to realise I’ve forgotten to pack earphones. The idea that I can’t check-in on my world or access my entertainment when I need to relax is what really puts a downer in my downtime!
This year, I’ve taken two trips to Australia. I’ve been to Mongolia, Scotland, Sweden and all over the UK. My tech is my lifeline, but it’s also vital for the times I need a distraction. My working day is primarily talking to people (sometimes animals too). I travel long distances with colleagues, and sure, we spend the majority of it having banter, but you can’t sustain that level of interaction all the way through. I just got back from a four-hour train ride from Glasgow with mates and I’d say 70% was chatting, 30% on our phones. I think that’s the norm for everyone these days, right?
So really, when travelling on business, a happy downtime is about having everything you need with you that gives you pleasure and peace of mind, and the knowledge that you have the tech to keep them charged and running while on the go!