How to maintain your morning routine when travelling

The secret to sticking to your morning routine even when travelling is to be armed with a travel-ready routine

woman standing with arms at the window in morning / morning routine concept

When travelling, it can be difficult to keep up your morning routine, unless you consciously plan for it ahead of time and pack your bags and mind accordingly. It helps to have a special morning routine in place, regardless of how similar it is to your at-home routine, that fits your needs while you’re on the road.

“Strangely, I wake up much earlier whenever I‘m away from home. I always feel inspired after a productive trip and think that I’m going to be a ‘new me’ when I get home and wake up every day at the crack of dawn, but I inevitably go back to my old ways within a week.” — Jing Wei, Illustrator

Here are tips to consider when travelling and staying in a different environment

Working out of a hotel room can make you more productive

This is especially true if you’re travelling alone, because when you work from a hotel room you eliminate all your at-home distractions. Andy Hayes, a premium tea seller, notes: “I find hotels to be a great place for quiet, mindful morning moments, as there is no temptation to clean out the refrigerator or reorganise my desk.”

If you want to add some familiarity to your morning routine in a hotel room without providing too much of a distraction, consider travelling with an electric kettle or blender so you can make your favourite drink without having to leave your room.

Do some smart scheduling ahead of time

Schedule your flights to make sure your morning routine is not disrupted. Or, if you know you sleep well on planes, schedule them so you travel overnight and land at your destination relatively early in the morning, so you can enjoy an active out-of-doors morning routine from the moment you disembark. If you know that you never tend to work well in different environments, you may choose not to travel at all when you’re in the middle of an important project, instead choosing to protect this time and ensuring that any travel is scheduled for afterward.

Make a plan and stick to it

This can be hard to implement on the fly once you wake up in your hotel room, so if you travel a lot it might be a good idea to keep a simple morning routine at all times. That way it won’t require much adaptation when you’re away from home.

“My schedule is dynamic, so I have to be prepared to adapt. I keep a suitcase packed with thin gym shoes and socks and workout stuff so I can weave that into my schedule when I travel. I’m pretty disciplined about sticking to it.” — Kevin Warren, chief commercial officer at Xerox

If you travel only occasionally and therefore want to keep a bulked-up home routine, think about what key habits from your morning routine you can still do on the road — meditation, yoga, or light stretching —and plan to include this in your routine when you’re away from home.

Don’t beat yourself up

Don’t beat yourself up about not perfectly following your morning routine [or even a shortened version of it] while on the road. Whether you’re staying in a hotel room alone, or sleeping on a friend’s couch, you may find that you’re just not as efficient away as you are at home. That’s okay.

“Routines are funny things. Following them causes a certain level of stress. Not following them causes a different level of stress. Either way, I’m never totally comfortable.” — Steven Heller, Former Art Director of the New York Times Book Review and Co-chair of SVA MFA Design Program 

The next time you’re planning a trip to stay with friends or relatives, remind yourself of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quip from Poor Richard’s Almanack: “Fish and visitors smell after three days.”

Get in and out of there as soon as possible, and abide by their morning routine while you‘re there. Writer Paul French puts this rather wonderfully: “Dawn can be an unforgiving hour to be cluttering around in someone else‘s home. I‘ll just do what I can without waking people or riling anyone’s cat.”

Reversals

There are a couple of instances on the road when you‘ll want to throw all notions of following your morning routine out the window in favour of enjoying the here and now. These are:

I. When travelling for important work meetings and events

2. When travelling for pleasure.

Regarding the first instance, many of the people we spoke with noted that when they are travelling for work, their wake-up time mostly depends on why they’re travelling in the first place. And so it should be, especially if you’re only away on business for a day or two, and the reason you’re away is especially important to your company or career. In this situation, take this time to work as hard as you can, sacrificing all but sleep.

When travelling for pleasure, just go with the flow. Unplug as much as possible on vacation. If you’re visiting family members [especially those you don’t see very often], enjoy the time you’re there with them instead of fretting over your morning routine falling by the wayside.

Adapted with permission from My Morning Routine by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander published by Penguin
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