Go Jane Go Stories

Women share their sometimes harrowing, sometimes funny, always true experiences on the road - and how to laugh AND win at business travel.

Stories from the Road

  • Kelli Komondor

Business Travel During a Pandemic

Travel during COVID. The thought terrifies some, while others are determined to continue business as usual. I had an opportunity to sit down, virtually, of course, with three women who are taking precautions but continuing to run their businesses.

Dr. Barbara Schwarck joined me from her home in Israel. Lori W. Allen and Jessie Godina joined me from their Pittsburgh-area residences.

Q: Tell me about your business travel, pre-COVID.

Dr. Schwarck: I travel a lot for both business and pleasure and rack up about 40,000 miles a year. I have a home here in Israel and one in Pittsburgh, family in Germany, and my clients are all over the world – multiple states in the U.S., Israel, Germany, Switzerland, and Africa, to name a few.

Allen: I have traveled extensively since 1997. In 2019 I took 158 flights. Since I fly so often, I am in the elite and top loyalty programs for airlines and hotels, and that allows an extra layer of protection when flying since I’m able to use the club restrooms and stay socially distant from other passengers.

Godina: Pre-COVID I traveled by car throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio weekly, and I would fly out of state monthly. Since March 2020 I flew just once but was driving within my territory (PA and OH) by April of last year.

Q: Tell me how travel has changed for you in 2020?

Dr. Schwarck: Regulations are very different. Each flight I ask, “Did I get the right form?”, “Did I get my COVID test in time to have results?” Too often the people behind the counters lack the knowledge for dealing with international travelers, which adds to the stress. Lately people tell me you won't be able to board a flight without certain documents. A bag of electronic accessories and another bag of “necessities,” like lip balm, hand lotion, earplugs, heavy socks, and a sleep mask is a good idea. I also make sure I have copies of all important documents. I have a photo of my license, passport and visa stored in my cell phone. And, if you are a global traveler, enroll in Global Entry.

Allen: In 2020 I flew just 69 times. I’m not really packing differently for the flights I’m just taking extras. I carry my own blanket – I feel it’s an added layer of protection, a lot of sanitizer, and a small bottle of rubbing alcohol.

Godina: I only flew once, and it was hard to find a flight. Traveling by car is difficult since many restaurants are closed. I only book overnights at Marriott or Hilton Hotels due to their COVID precaution standards.

Q: Who’s doing it the best? Where have you felt the most comfortable and safe?

Dr. Schwarck: Germany. They make it known they are following the rules and show how they disinfect the aircrafts and airports. When Germans are asked to follow rules, they do it. Everyone wears a mask, they stay socially distant, and they sanitize everything.

Allen: Delta. Some airlines are not doing well at adhering to the guidelines, but Delta is truly where I feel the safest. I have seen them go above and beyond.

Godina: Marriott and Hilton, although I still sanitize after touching everything – elevator buttons and door handles -- and I try to avoid using public restrooms. Umi Sushi Restaurant checks temperatures before even being allowed to enter. These protocols make me feel much more comfortable.

Q: How have you had to adjust professionally? How are you managing clients now?

Dr. Schwarck: I have always used technology to have video conferences and coaching sessions with clients. I will continue to do so, but I always want to be in front of a group if I am delivering a keynote or a training. You don’t have the same effectiveness speaking to hundreds of people on a screen as you do in-person.

Allen: I prefer to be with my clients. In my business, I need to see the ins and outs of a physician’s practice in person. I like to catch a 6:00 a.m. flight, spend the day with the client, and be back home by 7:00 p.m. COVID has forced me to spend a night on the front or back-end of many trips because flight schedules just don’t allow for one-day trips.

Godina: The less in-person meetings then the less possibility of exposure. Access to accounts isn’t as easy, so I began setting up more virtual meetings and reaching out to accounts via email or phone. Doing more virtual and work-from-home days decreases my travel time.

Q: What tips would you give to travelers who may be apprehensive to hit the skies during this time?

Dr. Schwarck: Making sure they’re comfortable traveling. And having those necessities at your fingertips, especially if you’re on a twelve-hour flight. I always carry an empty bottle of water and always have. Many airports have filling areas. It’s so important to stay hydrated – and avoid alcohol – when flying. I also suggest getting fresh air between flights as often as you can.

Allen: I would remind people that they need to do what makes them feel comfortable. I have been taking care of myself long before COVID by getting quarterly ozone therapy treatments and taking Vitamins B, C, D, zinc, apple cider vinegar, and glutathione. I take all precautions when I travel and when I’m at home. I’ve been tested four times and thankfully have had four negative results. Society needs to accept that travel decisions are a choice, and if you really take care of yourself, understand your immune system, and follow precautions, travel is okay.

Godina: Biggest thing I would do is stay home if I am sick even with a basic cold. Haven’t run into that issue yet, but I will if it happens no matter what.

Q: Any last thoughts?

Dr. Schwarck: I like knowing which airports have a yoga or meditation room, or a place to lay down between flights like in Frankfurt or London Heathrow. I fight jetlag by learning acupuncture points, staying hydrated, not consuming any alcohol, and getting fresh air every chance I can.

Allen Taking care of yourself is important. If you’re in good health, you should be fine to travel. I’ve had people who have shared their thoughts about me traveling, but I know I’m OK.

Godina: Everyone everywhere should follow the same strict protocols. It’s like when we are in an OR: We have a strict protocol to follow to ensure everyone’s safety. If one person breaks scrub or doesn’t follow aseptic technique, you have to start all over again, and the chance of infection increases significantly. Temperature checks should be taken at ALL restaurants, before going to security at airport, etc.

Dr. Barbara Schwarck:

For the past 20+ years, Dr. Barbara Schwarck’s purpose has been to assist people to get unstuck and move forward so they can live amazing lives and achieve gigantic goals. To date, Dr. Schwarck, (CEO of Clear Intentions International), an award-winning, dual certified coach with extensive academic training in Psychology, Management, Spirituality and Kinesiology, has successfully coached hundreds of CEOs, managers, business owners and private individuals who want to be their very best while feeling great about themselves.

Dr. Schwarck is the creator of Neuro Emotional Coaching®, a cutting-edge coaching tool rooted in neuroscience, emotional intelligence, and kinesiology. Using this amazing technology, Dr. Schwarck’s clients are able to rewire themselves and fundamentally change the way they think, feel, and approach their current and future challenges. She is also the author of From Intuition to Entrepreneurship: A Women’s Guide to Following Her Dream and the creator of Muscle Testing 101, an app that teaches you how to muscle test.

Lori W. Allen:

For over 25 years Lori W. Allen’s Profitable Practice Strategies has skillfully bolstered financial and operational success for over 300 clients. As a specialist and expert in the field, Lori works with the largest chiropractic and physical medicine practices in the nation, and around the world. Lori ensures long-term, sustainable growth and overall profitability for her clients, stressing efficiency, accountability, standardization of processes and protocols, excellence in customer service, patient education, and improved clinical outcomes.

Lori hosts clinical, administrative, and management excellence seminars nationwide and is a regular speaker at many prestigious educational institutions. In spring 2013 Lori opened the Pittsburgh Training and Development Institute, offering a classroom setting for staff and administrative training and guidance. Hosting over 100 training classes, individualized sessions, seminars, and boot camps a year at PTDI, Lori is committed to the success, growth, and evolution of her clients and associates.

Jessie Godina:

Jessie is a surgical consultant with MTF Biologics, the world’s largest non-profit tissue bank. She has been a medical sales rep for over 10 years providing services and products to the Neurosurgery, Orthopedic, and now Plastic Surgery specialties. Jessie has not only traveled the country for her sales positions to attend meetings and conferences, but she enjoys personal travel. She has traveled all over the world to countries such as Cuba, Slovenia, Spain, Italy, Monaco, France, Panama, etc. She resides in Pittsburgh, PA