Last week I was sent on a 2 day business trip. Trips can be a difficult proposition for people with lupus and other chronic diseases. Travel is exhausting, and getting somewhere often requires exposure to all kinds of nasty germs. Then there’s the trip itself. When I travel for fun I try to plan enough rest breaks, etc. I don’t have that option on a business trip. The agenda is already set – and you can’t go skipping things because you’re tired. By the end of the trip, here are the top 10 things that I had learned:
Don’t forget a mask for the airport and airplane. People might avoid you because they think you’re sick – but at least then you can’t catch whatever they’re carrying. So avoiding you is actually in your favor. Getting sick is no good – especially when you have meetings all day! (Of course, this applies to all air travel.)
Pack your heating pad. Long hours sitting on an airplane and in meetings plus exhaustion left me really achey and stiff. Having a heating pad to use at the end of the day made me feel a lot better. It made the next day of meetings so much easier!
Don’t forget your daily meds. I like med cases with the days that can be popped out so I can take just the relevant days. Small Tupperware containers or even snack size zip-locks also work in a pinch, but don’t forget to label the day and time of day.
Don’t forget your PRN meds. I forgot my painkillers and anti-nausea meds! This was very, very, very bad.
Streamline your work bag. You’re going to be carrying it around all day at the conference, so make sure it only has the few things you absolutely need. Your shoulder will thank you.
Pack comfortable shoes. I mean the most comfortable but still work appropriate shoes you can find. You will be on your feet, and your poor feet won’t want to be in uncomfortable shoes all day – no matter how comfortable they are.
and #6 also applies to comfortable clothes.
If you wear makeup, concealer and blush are a must. I looked all washed out, and I woke up with dark circles even in a fancy hotel with nice beds. The concealer also helped cover up the lupus rash I get on my face when I’m too tired.
I’m not generally a big fan of hand sanitizers since they can promote bacterial resistance and all, but in this case I wished I had kept a bottle in my bag. At work conferences you end up shaking a lot of hands. This is great for networking. It’s not so great for preventing infections.
Practice your acting skills. I’m all for educating people about my illnesses, but a work conference just isn’t the place for that, in my opinion. This is something that I do every day at work, but at a conference there wasn’t any lag time when I could relax out of that role. This meant I needed to keep a smile on my face all day long and fake good health. As frustrating (and exhausting!) as it is to do this, I want my work relationships to be based on my work not on my illnesses.
EDIT: One more amazing suggestion courtesy of @forgetful_girl: “One thing that I would recommend is packing handwipes/antibacterial wipes. When I go on a plane, I wipe down everything- handrests, remotes, trays. I also do the same when staying at a hotel, making sure to wipe over the remote.”
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