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4 secrets to staying happy on the road

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Frequent travel makes any job more grueling. But while spending long hours on an airplane and living out of a suitcase has downsides, there is this upside: You can squeeze a reasonable amount of me-time into a trip if you try. Veteran road warriors know these secrets for seizing bits of time for bits of joy:

1. Bring a good book. Most of us claim we don't have time to read. But when the flight attendant tells you that all electronic devices need to be turned off, you could be looking at a half hour or more before you reach cruising altitude. Add in the time you're waiting on a train platform or waiting in a cab stand line at the airport, and you could have hours to spend with a good read.

2. Phone your friends. If you've got a partner and/or kids, evenings after work aren't great for a 45-minute yak fest with a college buddy. But if you're traveling? As long as your friend is game, this is a great way to use a hotel-bound evening.

3. Exercise. A swimsuit and flip-flops can fit in even the tiniest carry-on bag, so if your hotel has a pool, consider this a great opportunity to get a kind of exercise you probably don't try that often. But even without a pool or exercise clothes, you can get up early and take a brisk walk to explore your temporary home.

4. Take in a (TV) show. Maybe you're jet-lagged and are up at a time you don't normally see otherwise? Or you've got half an hour between your meeting and theteam dinner? If you're the kind of highly efficient person who never watches TV otherwise, enjoy a guilt free romp through something brainless in the time you'd normally be doing yard work or emptying the dishwasher at home.

How do you squeeze in me-time on trips? Share your stories in the comments below.

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