A few months ago I set myself the Big Fat Stupid Goal of becoming an International Speaker. I knew however that it’s a bit like chicken and egg, you have to start speaking internationally to start marketing yourself as the type of speaker who speaks overseas.

You have to start somewhere.

I had no idea how, but I did had a long list of WHY I wanted to do it.

  • I love to travel
  • I love to speak
  • I have a message which needs to be heard globally
  • It would be exciting
  • I’d get to meet new people
  • It would help grow my brand overseas

The very next day after setting this intention I saw a call for speakers for the PSA Southern Africa Convention and I nervously sent an email to the organisers almost immediately, offering my services. And guess what? My proposal was accepted!!!!

The problem was I wasn’t even sure if this trip was possible. The cost. The time away from my business. Leaving my daughter at home (obviously not alone duh)…and I guess the biggest worry…was I even ready for speaking at this level?

The thing is, the pursuit of the things you really, really want in life take a certain amount of faith. They require you to leave your fears behind and just move forward. You book your flights, you sort out childcare, you pack your bags and you go….simple right?

Yes and No.

It is easy to look at people who travel the world living their dream and think “Wow, what a life?” but the reality of it is often quite different, because remember you only get to see the edited highlights on social media. The champaign glasses, the sunsets, the all important stage shot…what you don’t see are the stresses about what to pack, the back and forth emails for months regarding logistics, and lets not forget about the hours and hours in transit.

Now I do love to travel, and I am a good traveller…I have endurance. I have travelled to the South America and the Caribbean, around South East Asia and to Australia…so I know all about long flights…I’m not sure I was completely ready for my epic trip to Cape Town via Dubai though.

I had booked the cheapest flight I could find (mistake number 1) and on reflection I realise that my time and wellbeing is far more important than the £700 or so that I saved…but in this case it was the only way I could make this trip happen.

So while sitting in the lounge in Dubai I started to reflect on the similarities between long distance travel and long distance running.

It’s all about preparation, mindset and clarity over why you are doing it in the first place.

So here are some of my top tips for staying healthy and sane during extended trips…especially if you are not at the point of being able to fly first class…YET!!!!

  1. Stay hydrated. So easy to indulge in all the free alcohol on board your flight and in airport lounges. I tend to have a glass of wine with dinner, and maybe a beer or two, but that’s it. Then it’s as much of the clear stuff as possible. It also encourages you not to sit down for extended periods as you will need to visit the loo frequently too.
  2. Think about nutrition. I was always told to eat what you are given…but you really don’t have to. So I only eat the stuff on the plane that I actually like and that is going to be beneficial to me. I bought I wonderful green smoothie during my 14 hour layover and a glorious sandwich stuffed full of avocado, sundried tomatoes and chicken. Carrying the type of snacks you enjoy is a good idea too…energy bars, nuts, dried fruit.
  3. Carry supplements with you. I take a general multivitamin and a joint support pill each day. But when travelling I also include a vitamin c tablet and an echinacea pill to support my immune system. I have one of those plastic pill separator things so I don’t forget to take them.
  4. Get some exercise. I did a whole heap of walking in Dubai…I’m not a shopper really, but the shopping malls provide an excellent walking circuit.
  5. Have something to do. I had a book proposal to write during the week I was away, and always kept a journal at hand to make notes about future talks and blog posts. I also carried a book but wasn’t in the mood for reading so opted for an audio book instead.
  6. Get a massage. Lots of airports now have mini spas or massage places. After about 8 hours in Dubai on the way out I felt awfully tense so paid for a 30 minute chair massage. I told the lady what time my flight was so she didn’t wake me once I dosed off…I slept undisturbed in that chair for almost 2 hours…it was glorious.

It has taken me 3 days to get over the jet lag, fatigue and excitement of my trip to South Africa…and so today I am finally taking some time to reflect on my travels and catch up on some of the action points from the convention.

It was a long old way to travel to give just a 30 minute talk, but it was never just about that talk.

These trips are life changing in ways you can’t describe. You create shared experiences with people who are now set to become acquaintances and maybe even friends for life.

The things you see and experience in these new places, the new person you are able to experiment with being while there, these things are truly transformational.

The standing ovation I received after my talk, the comments of support and the business cards exchanged, yes of course these things play to your ego and give you a thirst to do more…but this is not why we do it, well it is not why I do it.

I was only in South Africa for 5 days and 5 nights but in that time I managed to squeeze in a 5K parkrun, an 8 mile beach walk, a sightseeing bus tour, an evening out to a comedy night (where I was pulled up on the stage to do some of my own comedy set), lunch with a friend I know from an online group, a visit to a women’s empowerment programme in one of the townships, plus dinner at the home of a lovely lady I met called Huni, where we chatted for hours and I got to meet her wonderful family….and this is alongside the 3 day convention and all that entailed.

So I say it again…it wasn’t just about my talk.

As speakers we arrive home from these trips tired and energised in equal measure, and those memories drive us to reach for even bigger and more exciting goals, and to think about where next we would like to speak but we never forget the effort they require, the leaps of faith, the fears we have to overcome, and the endurance of both body and mind it takes us to actually get there.

You may think you are ready to start reaching for those Big Fat Stupid Goals, but you also need to start considering whether you are ready to go the distance in order to achieve them, ready to make sacrifices in order to reach your dreams.

Just like running the marathon…the going across the finish line and receiving your medal is the easy bit…it’s the months of preparation, the weeks of stress and worry, the days where you want to give up and the hours and hours of running you have behind you that make you the winner in the end.