A few months ago, I did some crazy conference traveling: I flew from Amsterdam via Rome to Japan to attend ICCS 213. After that conference, I flew out of Japan via Minneapolis to Pittsburgh, to attend IBC 2013.
I shouldn’t forget to mention that less than a week after touchdown in Amsterdam, I also had to defend my dissertation.
Traveling from one conference in Asia to another in the USA threw me from Central European Summer Time to GMT+9 in Tokyo, and then to Eastern Time zone in the USA (GMT-5). Of course, I also crossed the date line (although I have no memory of actually doing so, as I was asleep).
As you can imagine, by the time I arrived to Pittsburgh, I couldn’t tell the difference between my toes and fingers, and felt as if my brain had stayed in Holland.
If you want my advice on this crazy conference traveling, I would say: don’t do it.
If you must, try to find a day of rest somewhere during the trip to catch up on sleep.
In my case, I managed to put in 2 days of rest at the beginning of the Pittsburgh-leg of my trip. The first rest-day was literally that: I went to bed sometime between 9pm and 10pm, and only woke up the next day at 2pm (and that is because my husband walked in because he took half a day off from work). The next night, I had a head-splitting migraine, combined with being unable to breathe and having my limbs go numb.
Regardless of the fact that it was terribly exhausting, I did find a few ways to cope with the draining elements of travel, and enjoyed myself a lot.
Here’s what I did:
1. Don’t try to do everything
I needed time to prepare for my defense presentation, so I took time off from the conference, instead of working through the night on my presentations. It’s OK to miss out on sections in conferences, as long as you “do your work” (the networking, the presenting, the learning, etc…).
2. Eat your veggies
If you do something as crazy as I did in terms of traveling, getting the right fuel is more important than ever. I went with green juices (from juice bars, or those Odwalla or Naked juices that are sold in virtually every gas station) to get some veggies. I ordered veggie sides to my meals, although I got some green beans that were swimming in butter at a certain point.
Go for a run. Drop in on a local yoga class. Do push-ups. Pump some iron. Walk around a few blocks.
Whatever you need to work up a sweat, helps your body. If possible, work out outside, in the daylight, when you are jetlagged.
Take this little piece of advise from my promotor: “Don’t worry about the trip. You’ll fall asleep somewhere, sometime, eventually.”
Have you had a crazy conference-trip like this? How did you survive?