The Dreaded Day Trip

I have a love/hate relationship with the ‘Day Trip’.  I love the way they look on the calendar.  Morning flight, midday meeting, return flight the same day and finally sleeping in my own bed, all within a single day.  Heck, I can even tell my lovely wife that I will be “home that day”

The problem is I do not live my life on paper

As I write this, I am sitting on the first flight out to Chicago.  I will also be on one of the evening flights back in to Dallas tonight.  Nearly 6 hours of travel time for a 4 hour meeting, of which I am only leading an hour of.  It is days like this that make me want to banish the ‘Day Trip’ from my calendar forever, or at least severely restricting the geographies I am willing to schedule these life sucking journeys to.

You have to have a strategy in place to stay RoadWarrior fit!!

There are so many pitfalls that the Day Trip puts in your path from a health and fitness perspective.  They really are just evil.  Let’s take a look at them and how to avoid them.

Disturbed Sleep Schedule:

For me at least, a Day Trip involves a very early flight (today’s departure time was 6:43 AM) and a late return (I am landing at 10:00 PM).  That meant I was up at 4:30 and will not be heading to bed until probably around midnight assuming that there are no delays heading home.  That makes for a very long day and more importantly, for very little sleep.  There are thousands of studies that show the importance of sleep to both physical and mental health.  I rarely get my full allotment of sleep before or after a day trip.

Coping Strategy – Get to bed early the night before

I know you saw that one coming and to be truthful, I suck at this one but it is a must.  You know you are not going to sleep on the plane so make sure you get your Z’s in the night before.  Need help making this happen, click here

Lack of Exercise:

I truly wish I was the type of person who got up early in the morning and exercised but alas, I am not.  The only times I work out in the morning is when I either have a late afternoon flight or the weekend (and even then we are not talking about early mornings).  Packing so much travel time in one day often means I am breaking the first rule of being RoadWarrior fit:

Rule #1: Do something, ANYTHING, everyday!!

When you are already scheduled to wake up at 4:30 it is really hard to set that alarm and stick to it another 30-60 minutes earlier.  3:30 wake-up call just to get an exercise session in?  C’mon, not happening.

Coping Strategy – Plan for the down time

There are times I have been able to work out on a day trip.  I have been known to walk airports for the hour before my flight.  I know which airlines clubs have fitness facilities in them and this trip I even packed my workout clothes and shoes to get a workout in at the Hilton in O’Hare (great gym that is accessible from the terminal) but in over a decade of travel, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE DONE THAT!!

hilton gym1

If you know you have a Day Trip in a particular week, plan to exercise around it.  None of us can or should do a true workout every day.  Your body needs down time to recover so use these days wisely.  Get a great workout in the day before (it will help you sleep also) and make sure you get one the next day.

Crazy Diet:

At 5:00 in the morning, I am not going to be breaking out the cookware to make the healthiest of breakfasts so I am usually grabbing something to go.  Now I am talking fruit and shakes, not Poptarts so let’s not get too crazy.  However that is usually followed up with a ‘working lunch’ (read: local sandwich shop or my favorite, Pizza) and a dinner at the airport.  Most of the time, this is breaking my last rule for staying RoadWarrior fit:

Rule #5:  Never eat somewhere that you could at home!!

In other words, I try and avoid the chains as they are about easily replicated food and very rarely about the quality nutrition we should be looking for.  That is not very easy to do when you are dining at the airport.  So very often I end up having a shake for breakfast, a protein bar for lunch (especially if I am presenting – it is really hard to present and eat at the same time) and another protein bar at dinner.  That may sound like the next fad diet but I can assure you, it is not good for you in the long run.

Coping Strategy – Get a good breakfast

You can have a great breakfast without waking the entire house up.  Prep your food the night before so it is ready to go in the morning.  I love breakfast tacos and these heat up in the microwave very easily.  Pair an English muffin smeared with Peanut Butter to a bowl of berries and greek yogurt.  You get the point but make sure this one meal is complete and at least you know you are starting the day well.

Sedentarism:

Yes, I just made that word up but take today as an example.  Between the car rides to and from the airports, two plane rides and the meeting with the client, I am sure I will be sitting for at least 12 hours today.  12 HOURS!!!  That is how you get DVT people, no really, it is.

Coping Strategy – Move every chance you get.

Pretty self explanatory.

It is Just Rude:

Picture for a moment my wife’s version of these trips.  She is awakened at 4:30 AM by me trouncing around the house getting ready to leave, the dogs waking up and being active with me.  She is then left to fend for herself with the boys all day including getting them ready and off to school, playing chauffer for various events, making and cleaning dinner, monitoring homework and being disciplinarian when needed.  Then at the end of the day, having me reenter life like the conquering hero right before (or sometimes well after) everyone heads off to bed.  Sounds like a great day, right?  Wrong.

Now, I understand the desire of parents of younger kids to be home in time to tuck their kids in to bed.  That also relieves some of the stress on your spouse if you can handle that portion of the day but my kids are teenagers.  I can assure you that they have NO DESIRE to have me tuck them in at night and the stressful part of the day is not bed time.

To put it simply, my wife hates Day Trips

Coping Strategy – Communicate

I have been known to just ask my wife if she would prefer a day trip or if I should just head out the night before.  I also try and make sure I have something in the crockpot that morning so that dinner is just that much easier for her.  Acknowledge that these trips are probably just as hard on your spouse as they are on you.  Believe me, they will appreciate the effort and acknowledgement.

So there is my argument against and my tips to help survive the Dreaded Day Trip.  I think everyone is healthier and happier if you can tag a night on somewhere (I prefer the front end of the trip) but if you can’t at least there are some ways to mitigate the damage.

Safe travels and I will see you on the road.

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