I always love having conversations with people who do not spend much time on the road, especially when they are on the road themselves. And having just come off of the largest conference of the year for the apartment industry where literally thousands of folks who never travel have just spent the last week in City by the Bay, I have had a lot of those conversations recently. Want to guess what the most common question/comment I heard in my various conversations was?
“How do you do it?”
The answer is simple, one day at a time. That is all I can do.
These conversations prompted me to write an article this time that I am not sure I have seen out there. Everyone likes to point out the positives of travel, I would like to point out the challenges that RoadWarrior’s face so the next time you find yourself staring at a calendar with an upcoming road trip, you are ready.
Reality #1 – Staying fit is hard:
Gyms with broken equipment. Overtaxed schedules. Tired muscles and minds. All of these are a normal part of the RoadWarrior life. Combine that with the ease of finding food that is horrible for you and the scarcity of the food that will really fuel your body well and you have the perfect recipe for allowing your fitness to suffer.
My solution: Plan ahead (more on this topic here). You need to schedule your workouts. You need to research where and when you are going to eat. Winging it every once in a while is OK. Winging it every trip is a recipe for obesity.
Reality #2 – Alcohol is everywhere:
Seriously. Once you get any level of status on an airline or hotel chain, they are constantly making sure that if you want to be liquored up, you can be. It becomes incredibly simple to have a cocktail in the lounge before your flight, a couple of glasses of wine on the plane and then again at your next hotel. I lost count a long time ago of the number of people I have seen over served at the hotel bar. I am far from saying don’t drink but definitely do so with intent and a consciousness about it. Too much alcohol has done no one any good….ever.
My solution: Be conscious about your consumption. Set limits in advance and choose when/if you are going to consume and where.
Reality #3 – People expect you to work constantly:
This may be just my world and my own personal work ethic but if I am going to be away from my family, I am going to make sure I am as productive as possible (I do so with the intention of protecting my time when I am at home). Here’s the problem, my coworkers now expect me to be available 24/7 when I am on the road. You have to protect yourself on this one. You prioritizing your time is different than others demanding your attention.
My solution – Create and stick to reasonable boundaries. I turn off my instant chat function on my computer around 9:00. I stop responding to emails about that time as well. I don’t send out new emails after that point. It is when I shut it down (or at least give that impression – truth is I am often working later but scheduling my correspondence to be sent the following morning).
Reality #4 – Reentry is hard:
You just got home from a long trip, your plane was late and it is actually tomorrow when you arrive home. To top it off, you have been burning the candle at both ends all week and you are both physically and mentally spent. All you want to do is climb in to bed and never get out. Unfortunately, your spouse has had the same type of week shuttling around kids, making sure everyone is fed, doing their own professional job and trying to stay fit. They have been burning the candle at both ends and all they want is to climb into bed and never get out…but thank God you are home to take over, right?
My solution – Suck it up cupcake, especially if you are a regular RoadWarrior!! Your travel schedule created this dynamic and you need to do everything you can to make the reentry as smooth as possible. Sorry I don’t have any additional sage wisdom here but sometimes it is what it is. This is also why I tend to bring gifts…..like San Francisco sourdough bread!!
Reality #5 – A life on the road is a lonely one:
I have written on this topic previously but it is very had to develop relationships on the road and very easy to hide among the masses. There is a reason fish school to avoid predators, they can become an indistinguishable part of a larger massive organism. Great for fish…..terrible for humans.
My solution – Be intentional about maintaining the relationships you have that are most important. If I am not intentionally reaching out to my wife, my kids, my parents, it is easy for me to go days without communicating. This may just be a me thing but I like to fade into the background (ironically, I am doing so right now in the Admirals Club as literally dozens of industry coworkers buzz around). Below are some recent shots from a run I made across the Golden Gate with a couple of co-workers. An hour of intentional interaction.
Reality #6 – It is really easy to get depressed:
Everything above can easily culminate in a feeling of depression. You stop being active, you feed your body with a depressant, you are working constantly, you know when you get home there is going to be tension and you feel alone. How could you not get depressed, right? I would be lying if I did not admit that about once a quarter, I have a trip where it all bears down on me……and I don’t think I am alone in that feeling. I am always amazed at how utterly alone you can feel in a sea of people.
My solution – Beat the depression out of me physically. Seriously, this is why I work out the way I do on the road. I will do double workouts – if for no other reason than it keeps me off of the computer. I will start a blog just to vent about it into the abyss. For others it may be reading their favorite book, knitting, researching menu plans. Could be any number of activities but do something you love to focus your energy and attention elsewhere.
So there you go, the 6 realities that no one really wants to talk about a life lived on the road. If you can be intentional about heading those 6 off before they start, you are in for a good trip. See you on the road!