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Get the most out of your RealWorld Experience!!

realworld

Yep, it is that time again already, the annual RealPage User Conference aka REALWORLD 2016!!!

Now this is going to be my 6th RealWorld Conference (how can that possibly be?).  For those not in the know, RealWorld is the conference specifically dedicated to RealPage and their partners where we showcase the latest developments in the industry, the product improvements being delivered/developed and most important, thank our partners for their continued partnership.  It is 3 days of networking, learning, previews and fun but let’s face it, it is also long days, longer evenings and tight schedules.  In order to make the most of the sessions and travel fit, you have to have a strategy to thrive.

This is also my 3rd year of providing a few of my tips and tricks to not just surviving the conference but really making the most of it for both education and fintess.  So here are my RealWorld rules to live by:

Tip #1: Plan ahead:

I know I say this every year but I cannot over emphasize this one enough; Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  If your plan is showing up at the conference and “figure it out” you are in for a rough time.……not going to happen.  There are just too many great options of sessions to attend and fellow RealPage users to meet.  If you don’t plan ahead you are guaranteed to miss a ‘can’t miss’ session and for sure your workout is not going to get done.

Realworldapp

So if you haven’t already, go download the RealWorld App right now.  Seriously, I’ll wait.

Now, immediately start adding your must attend sessions to your calendar.  Might I suggest ‘Stack the Deck with Business Intelligence’ on Tuesday morning as a starting point?  I hear the speaker for that one is sub-par but the material should be great!!

Once you know when your ‘Can’t miss’ sessions are, you can fill in the rest of the time slots for meetings, networking, product demos and down time.

Tip #2: Stay hydrated:

water bottle refill

You know you should normally be drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  Well , this year we are at the beautiful Wynn hotel.  If you have never been to a conference at this hotel, I will give you fair warning, it is a long way from the rooms to the conference center.  A LONG WAY!!  So you are going to be walking more than you normally do and potentially imbibing on an alcoholic drink or two in the evening, and oh yeah, this is all happening in the middle of the dessert.  I am going to recommend you up your water intake from the standard 8 glasses.  Trust me, you will thank me when you are waking up on days 2 & 3 of the conference.  Now this is where planning comes in again.  I find that it is a very rare thing to find a conference center that keeps the water pitchers/bottles full throughout the conference.

SO BRING YOUR OWN!!

You may not always be able to find a nice chilled bottle of FIJI but you can usually find a water fountain to fill up your own bottle.  And if you are anything like me, you find an empty water bottle strangely motivational.

Tip #3: Recharge:

weary traveler

This will look different for each of us but I find I need a point in my day to recharge more than just my phone.  For me, it is time in the gym.   I can get my head on straight and work all the kinks out that I am feeling from standing all day.  For others it is a power nap in the room, others it is 15 minutes in the sun out by the pool.  Whatever it is that recharges and helps your re-center your mindset, make sure you have time built in each day to accomplish it.

Now we also need to think about that phone, so don’t forget your mobile charger!  We want to hear your thoughts throughout the day (follow the hashtag #RWconf2016 to join the conversation).

Tip #4: Eat well & Eat often:

image

Make sure you take the time to eat like you should.  Do not sacrifice the quality of your diet because you need to rush somewhere.  Stop by the store on the way to the hotel and grab some snacks for the room (don’t get me started on the mini-bar options for $10 bucks each).  Put a bar in your purse.  Throw an apple in your bag for later in the day.  Your body needs fuel to thrive vs. survive.  Give it what it needs.

Bonus Tip:  Most hotels that host conferences have pretty good gyms.  Gyms where they actual stock fruit for the taking.

Tip #5: Have fun:

If this is your first RealWorld Conference, you are in for a treat.  It is a blast, especially the party on Monday night.  Although not themed this year, in the past we have celebrated the lives of people like Dr. Seuss or given our best superhero impersonation.

wolverine ABDr. Seuss

The party is a celebration of our partnership with all of you and we pull out all of the stops.  This year promises to be a lavish affair….even if Wolverine will not be showing up.

Bonus Tip #6:

For those of you who are runners (or are even thinking about running), I cannot recommend skipping the treadmill in the morning enough.  Running the Las Vegas strip in the early morning is in my top 5 runs in the country.

Seriously, the people watching is unbelievable!!!

In fact, even if you don’t run, wake up a bit early on Monday or Tuesday and head out for a walk.  I promise that not only will you feel better but you will have conversation topics for the rest of the day!!

Time for me to go pack and finish my presentations but hopefully I will see you at RealWorld!!

What would you give up?

Welcome to the Lenten season!!  That wonderful time of year when some choose what vice they will give up in order to worship the One who gave up everything for them.  If your Twitter/Facebook feed is anything like mine is, it is filled with people either disclosing their vice of choice or professing what indulgence they will do without until Easter.  All of this sacrifice got me to thinking, what would I really like to ‘give up’ (read ‘purge’) from my life?

What would a Road Warrior like to give up if we really could?

So in honor of Lent, here is my top 40 list of things I would more than happily ‘fast’ from this Lenten season:

  1. Flights that depart prior to 7:00 AM: They look great on the calendar.  “I’ll be able to spend the night at home the night before the trip” is a great way to convince yourself you are doing something special for your family.  Reality is they want to kill you when you are getting ready at 4:30 in the morning.  This is a no-win scenario any way you cut it.
  2. Turbulence: Seriously, if I wanted a roller coaster ride, I would head to the nearest Six Flags park.
  3. Sitting in coach: Yes, I am spoiled but if I get to make the list, sitting in coach is one of the first things I would be willing to ‘give up’ for Lent.
  4. Foam Mattresses: I sincerely would like to introduce whoever invented these beauties to karate mat.  They deserve a good kick in the head.
  5. Airport Food: Yes, there are some good spots but for the most part it is abysmal.
  6. Weather Delays: Hey – this is my list and I get to declare that there are no more delays due to white flaky stuff falling from the sky.Calendar
  7. 3 day trips that span 3 time zones: Seriously, why can’t we book multiple appointments in the same time zone (let alone the same city)?
  8. ‘Day Trips’ lasting 16+ hours: We seriously need to reevaluate what constitutes a ‘day trip’.  Just because you can get to/from a market within a 24 hour period does not necessarily mean you should.Ceiling Height
  9. Hotel ‘gyms’ that consist of a treadmill and a broken down StairMaster: And putting a paper note of apology on the broken treadmill does not make it any better.  Fix the equipment for God’s sake.
  10. The casual traveler who thinks the RoadWarrior life a glamorous one: Really?  Yes, I get to ‘see’ lots of great places.  As long as you define ‘see’ as a path that consists of the Airport, hotel, client office followed by a return visit to the airport.
  11. Taking flights on a non-preferred airline: I fly one preferred airline for a reason (see #3).  I would like them to fly direct from every possible location to every possible location.  Is that too much to ask?
  12. Compact Rental Cars: I hesitate to call half of these cars.  I don’t know how Europe deals with it.
  13. Sunday Travel: I sincerely HATE this.
  14. Friday Return flights: Second only to Sunday departures.  Sundays and Friday are made for family and home.
  15. Conferences: Oh if one could only dream of this world.
  16. Hotel rooms without coffee makers: This is just mean!!
  17. Hotel up-lighting: I realize you want the building to look good from the exterior but if we could manage to find a way to not have a metal halide light equivalent to the sun pointed directly into my window, I would appreciate it.
  18. The forgotten toiletry: There is always something I miss replacing.  Couldn’t a magical fairy replace it for me without my involvement?
  19. Out of Office: Why even bother?  I am always Out of the Office.
  20. Emails from your travel booking system: Yes, I know my trip is upcoming.  So is the one you will email me about tomorrow.  STOP!!  You are just filling up my email box.
  21. TSA Security Line Banter: Yes, I know I need to take off my shoes and belt.  I even know that I am not allowed liquids or gels in containers larger than 4 oz.  I do not need to be continually educated about the procedures as I stand in line to go through the Pre-check line for 20 minutes.denver-tsa-line
  22. Travelers who travel once a year who are TSA Pre-checked: Why did you even bother?   You waited way longer for your interview than you would have going through security.it will fit
  23. Travelers with no sense of special awareness: No, your overstuffed ‘roll aboard’ is not going to fit in the overhead compartment on this Embraer Jet.
  24. Overhead compartments in an Embraer Jet: Really Embraer?   There is not even room for my jacket on the left hand side of the plane.
  25. Clueless casual travelers: (Sensing a trend now?) People – shoes come off, all metal and electronics out of pockets and liquids out of the bag.  It really is not that hard and by the way, look back up at #20 – we have been listening to them tell us this for the last 15 minutes straight.
  26. Barbie Ironing Boards: I paid good money to sleep in your hotel room.  Please provide me an ironing board that actually allows me to iron my shirt.
  27. Something forgotten at home: As hard as I try, there is always something I miss at home.  I get the text from my wife and just want to crawl into the fetal position.  I really could do without this.
  28. Booking 9 AM meetings that start EST when you are actually in PST: This one is completely self-inflicted but dear God, I have got to pay more attention to when a call starts relative to where I will be sleeping the previous night.
  29. Co-workers scheduling calls that start immediately after you land: I realize that the time was ‘free’ on my calendar but seriously, do I have to put an appointment on my calendar that says ‘walk through airport’.
  30. Rental Car Shuttle buses: I know it is impractical but man I wish every rental car pick-up was on airport property.
  31. Unrealistic per diems: I am not an extravagant traveler by any means but sometimes, the hotels that you can get for the company per diem are just not up to snuff.
  32. Expense reports: I know, I know. The aps that are available now make this way easier but I still do not know a single RoadWarrior who enjoys this process.
  33. Useless upgrades: I cannot tell you how many times I have been ‘upgraded’ to the suite level at hotels when I am checking in at 1:00 AM and checking out at 8:00 AM.  Thanks for the extra sitting space that I will not use.
  34. On Demand Movie Preview Channels: I never order them (I have Netflix after all) and as much as I like Mario Lopez, I really don’t need to see him every time I turn on the TV.
  35. Brown Food: Why is it that restaurants (hotel and airport restaurants in particular) serve mainly brown food?  Is it really that hard to make a salad?  There has to be more green than brown food out there, right?
  36. Promotional emails: From everybody.  I am pretty convinced that Southwest Airlines monitors your flight schedule and purposefully sends you an email while you are in flight so you will think about them when you land.
  37. Office get-together emails: It is just mean to send me an email about the leftover bagels/donuts/pizza/happy hour that is going on in the office today.
  38. Slow airport wi-fi: When Jerry Jones built the new Cowboy Stadium, he wanted to be sure that it had the bandwidth to support over 100,000 people posting to social media at the same time without lag.  Airport IT Directors, please take note.
  39. Checked bags: No one needs this drama and time suck.
  40. Worrying about any of this stuff: Life is too short to allow any of the above to affect you.  Love others as God loves you and enjoy the journey.

Hope you got a chuckle at one or two of the above.  See you on the road!

Food vs. Fuel

Talk to any serious competitive athlete and you will hear the mantra “Food is Fuel”.  It is a simple, true axiom meant to remind the uber fit that it is ok to eat grilled chicken, brown rice and steamed vegetables for every meal.  After all, athletic performance and staying ripped is all about the quality of the calories and micro nutrients these amazing athletes take in to fuel the work they need to put out.  My guess is that if you are reading this blog for fitness and travel advice, you do not fit into that category.

On the other side of the equation are those who feel that “family is made around food”.   Relationships are made around the table and more people will enjoy the table if the food is rich and inviting.  After all, life is meant to be ‘lived’ not just endured.  But a diet filled with high calorie, high (bad) fat foods is not good for you or your waist line.

So as RoadWarriors, How do we find the balance between fueling our bodies appropriately and feeding our need for relationship?

It is a balance that I battle daily on the road.

I made a major shift in my approach when I realized that I actually am an Uber Athlete – AND SO ARE YOU!!  Can I bench 300 lbs? – No.  Can I run a sub 5 40-yard dash? – No.  Can I go 5 rounds with the UFC’s best? – No.  But I like to think I am really good at what I do and my nutrition plays a big part in my success.  So how do you blend the two successfully?

Plan ahead:

If you have read just about any of my posts you can sense a theme that centers around this.  I firmly believe that Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  You need to know when you are committed to others and where.  Planning around client dinners is crucial to balancing your diet and having long term success living a life on the road.  If I am having dinner with a client that enjoys steak houses, I am going to limit my red meat and carb intake that day prior to the meeting.  If the night calls for a more adventurous palate (Ethiopian anyone?) I may front load the proteins to make room for the veggie based dinner.  Get it?

Think about your daily totals:

I don’t really track calories.  I do track how many servings of each macro I have had throughout the day.  I use the container system created by Autumn Calabrese.  It helps with both portion control and total servings.  Learn more about that here.  Knowing what you need to consume makes sure you are being intentional rather than reactionary.

Carb timing:

In general, I like to time my simple carbs around workouts and early in the day (Fruits I will eat whenever and wherever).  Carbs turn into sugar and energy the easiest of anything we ingest so ingest them before you need them.  The  later in the day, the less I need the easily accessible energy so tapper them off.  Taking a group for Italian?  Skip the oatmeal in the morning, have a salad loaded with veggies and protein for lunch and then enjoy the garlic bread and pasta that night.

Eating greens early:

The one food group that I struggle with getting enough of in my diet is vegies.  It is so easy to skip these, especially if you find yourself in the hotel lobby restaurant or airport limited service restaurant.  Do yourself a favor, start your day off with a serving of veggies.  My go to is the omelet bar.  Give me all the veggies, heavy on the jalapenos, with just a little bit of turkey sausage.  I make my digestive system work from the moment we are breaking fast.  If I can, I am snacking on carrots, celery, red peppers or some other veggie with hummus or peanut butter in mid morning.  That way if it does get late in the day and I am tracking my servings, I am not forced to have all veggies to get caught up.

Limit alcohol intake:

As a frequent traveler with status, you can find free booze everywhere.  In the lounge, at the hotel concierge lounge, even on the plane.  Remember that your body treats alcohol as a poison and stops processing of anything else until the alcohol is processed.  Imbibe intelligently.  My favorite drink is actually a tonic with lime – looks just like a cocktail without the extra calories or headache the following morning.  That being said, I also love a good craft beer, rich red wine and/or single malt scotch.  Just in moderation.

In the end it comes down to treating your food as fuel when you are on your own and making those special client meals just that, special.  Remember, you are an uber performer in what you do.  Eat like an uber performer.

But it looks so good on the calendar!! (Alternative title: What the heck was I thinking?)

At least once or twice a year, I have a week of travel that looks great on a calendar.  The kind of week, like the one I just started, where I have 6 different in person meetings across six states in 5 days.  The kind of week where on the last leg of the trip you find yourself chanting  “never again” over and over like it is a tantric mantra.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

This week I will find myself on six different planes, 4 hotel rooms, 3 rental cars, 2 different trains, countless taxi/Ubers and (fortunately only) 2 time zones.  I think I will literally be spending an entire day in some type of mode of transportation this week.  Crazy.

So how do you prepare for a marathon week like this one?

First of all, you prepare.  Heading into a period of travel like this without making preparations is setting yourself up for disaster.  And I mean going past planning on what you are going to wear and what weather to pack for.  You need to prepare yourself, your family and your coworkers for the craziness of weeks like this one.  How you ask?

Communicate:

This is a big one for me.  I have a very bad habit of not communicating to my wife early and often about upcoming weeks like this one.  After over a decade on the road, she pretty much assumes that I am going to be traveling each and every week but weeks like this are the exception.  Of course this is also the week my eldest son decides to throw a relational grenade in the middle of the living room.   Oh, and wrestling season is starting with two different evening events.  And my youngest son has an orchestra commitment.  And, and, and……. While there is never a good week for this type of trip, this is a particularly bad one.  Of course, I waited to communicate the schedule this week so it caused grief for all involved.

You also need to communicate with your coworkers.  Normally I am very flexible with how and when I will take phone calls and do webinars.  Did you catch the fact that I will be on a plane/train for nearly 24 hours this week?  Pretty hard to conduct a webinar from 38k feet.  Communicating this early and often with your teammates will only benefit all of you.

Support:

One of my wife’s love languages is Acts of Service.  I have written about it before (read it here) but I spend my Sunday’s planning but this Sunday was even more intensive than most.  I always plan the menu for the week and shop for the groceries but this week I also prepped all of the meals.  I made sure the laundry was done and put away.  The garage was cleaned out so the car could park in it.  Why?  So when her day gets a head of steam, or a hail storm rolls through, she is not letting the dinner storm or the literal storm derail the family.  The more I can make sure is ready to go (Monday’s dinner, Wrestling Singlet cleaned and ready to go, PE Clothes cleaned, lunch accounts having full balances) – the better the week will go.

Does that mean I get to sit on the couch and watch football all Sunday?  Nope.

refigerator

But I can tell you that when I leave and our refrigerator looks like it did this morning (above) than there is zero complaining about the games being on all Sunday when I am in the kitchen making this happen.  It also makes reentry on Friday night, way better.

Schedule:

Yes, I schedule my flights and meetings but I also have to schedule my workouts and meals on weeks like this.  I do not want to find myself at the airport looking to board a late flight having not worked out and not eaten.  It is a recipe for late night fast food and running to the gift shop for Tums.  Not good.

gym

It also means thinking ahead to the schedule of the week for those around you.  How can I make the upcoming week easier to deal with?  Are the clothes ready for any special events?  Are there days where you know if you are going to get a Facetime conversation with the kids in that it has to be in the morning?  Can you reposition anything scheduled for the upcoming week into another time slot to make everyone’s week go a bit smoother?

Now that I think about it, prepping for weeks like this all boils down to putting others first.  When we as RoadWarriors are on the road – it is an inherently selfish time.  We can’t deal with the trials, tribulations, arguments and meltdowns that are happening at home.  The best we can do is help to avoid them in the first place.  So wish me luck this week and maybe I will see you in one of the 6 airports I get to visit this week.

Flip-flops, Jeans and Mickey Mouse – a lesson in wardrobe

I have a confession to make, I am a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to what I wear on a plane.  I make it my mission in life to make sure I am dressed comfortably before walking down the jet bridge.  I have changed in to “street” clothes in the restrooms of more airports this year than most people will visit in their lifetime and if being able to completely change outfits without any item of clothing or patch of skin hitting the bathroom floor were an Olympic sport, I would have a really good shot at medaling.

You see, I like to travel comfortably.  Really comfortably.

I would say that on 95% of the flights I take, I am in jeans, a t-shirt and flip-flops (assuming the weather permits).  It is what I am most comfortable in and actually what I feel most confident in.

flip flop

Those who travel with me on a regular basis have gotten used to my obsession but this was not always the case.  When I first started making this a habit, I often felt judged by both my coworkers and fellow travelers.  When you are in sales or service, you are always on.  Just because you left the client’s office does not mean you are ‘off stage’.   One of the women I used to work for was a fabulous leader and was keenly aware of this fact.  She was always put together and on point.  I think my habit of being in t-shirt actually really bothered her for a while – until we unexpectedly sat together with a client on a flight back from a conference.

There I was with two of the most influential personas in my industry, having an in depth conversation about trends in the industry, future advancements and speculating on the next generations of tools to come forth……..

And I am wearing a Mickey Mouse T-Shirt!!

mickey mouse

I literally wanted to crawl out of my skin (or at least that shirt).  Here I was, trying to make a name for myself and I am wearing a cartoon character across my chest.  I was left with a choice, cower and apologize for not being dressed ‘more appropriately’ or be confident in who I was rather than what I was wearing.

Of course the story has a happy ending and I managed to not make a fool of myself and in fact, that shirt spurred on conversations about our families, vacations and my obsession with the company that is Disney.  It also taught me a very important lesson, the clothes do not in fact make the man.  I firmly believe that the man makes the clothes. I was far more confident in jeans, flip-flops and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt on that plane than I had been just 4 hours early in a sports coat and tie.

The clothes do not make the man.  The man makes the clothes!!

Since then, I would like to think that not conforming to the khaki pants and blue blazer uniform of the typical business traveler has become somewhat of a trademark for me.  I even think that some of my clients/coworkers would be disappointed if showed up for a flight in anything but a t-shirt.  The message in all of this?

Confidence is more important than conformity.

I would rather lose a client/deal because I was transparent than win one because I put on a false front.  It really is that simple.

Life is too short to put perception ahead of transparency.  So travel in a t-shirt, or a bow tie, or yoga pants or a 3-piece suit.  Just make sure it reflects who you really are and the skin you are most comfortable in.

Can’t wait to see what you are wearing.

Dont be THAT Guy!!!

I don’t know what has been up over the last few weeks but I have been running into some real pieces of work on my travels recently. I am sure you know the types of people I am talking about, the folks who we share the road with who just need to let a few things go and get their priorities back in order.  Who do I mean?  I mean folks like;

two-businessman-talking-on-phone-at-urinals

Cellphone talking in the bathroom guy:

OK, what can possibly be so important that you cannot either a) pause the conversation and call them back or b) put them on mute?  I will never understand the gentleman at the urinal talking about his weekend to his friend while relieving himself.  Really?  I am always sure to flush a couple extra times just to be sure the person on the other end knows exactly where this guy takes his calls from.  However please understand, this guy is completely different from Guy who goes to the bathroom in the Middle of a Conference Call.

gate crowding

Needs to be first guy:

Every flight I ever take, literally every single one, there is at least one and usually a group of people who are in Group 4 or 5 of the boarding process who line up at the gate before the plane has even arrived.   I guess they think that by being at the gate early that they will be able to board earlier.  My favorite are the ones who when the gate agents call for the elite level travelers to board, join right in, only to be immediately cast aside and made to wait in front of all for their “appropriate boarding group”.   All the while, clogging the 2 foot wide pathway to get to the jet bridge.  Not so ironically, these are usually the folks I also see falling into our next category.

Refuses to put anything under his seat guy:

I get it, you bought a ticket just like everyone else on the plane and yes, you have the “right” (show me in The Constitution where overhead space is protected) to put your stuff up above but if all you have is a bag from the HMS Host store in the boarding area, put under your feet in front of you.  Seriously people.

Oh and by the way, you are not allowed to complain about either the boarding process or the deplaning process if you choose to place everything overhead.  You are the reason that one person who has a CPAP machine in their bag or the person in 7F who placed their bag above 33D is holding up the process.

it will fit

Mr. Spatially Unaware:

So this version actually comes in two varieties.  The first is the one who has no concept of how geometry works.  This is usually best displayed as they attempt to place a 9x14x22 inch bag into a 3x7x22 inch space.  No really, keep trying.  I am sure you can make it fit.  Much like this guy

The second version is the guy who does not understand that the arm rest actually represents the type of force field between your seat and mine.  It should be treated like a kindergartner treats the “lava” if they fall of the carpet.  It is to be avoided at all costs.  Of course the one who really takes the cake in this category is Mr. I am Going to use your Shoulder as a Pillow Guy (yep, it really has happened) much like this classic

Married to my seat guy:

So I saved my personal pet peeve for last.  That is the person that is so attached to their seat that they are unwilling to move for any reason.  I was recently on a flight where a father and his 5 year old son were assigned to two window seats IN FIRST CLASS that were not in the same row.  The gentlemen in the aisle seats of both of the rows refused to relocate.  Let me remind you, THIS WAS TO ANOTHER FIRST CLASS SEAT!!!  I literally could not believe it.  I turned to the gentlemen next to me after seeing this dad settle his barely grade school aged son in the row behind him and asked “Are you married to that seat?” – fortunately he was already thinking exactly what I was thinking.  We immediately gave up our row so this father and son could sit together.

RoadWarriors please here me.  If you see a family separated on the plane, regardless of the seat assignment, if you can switch and make it better for them, DO IT and yes, I have sat middle in coach so families can sit together.  I feel so deeply about this I think we should start a Whitehouse.org petition to make it a Federal Law.

The lesson in all this?  Well, Pope Francis got an ovation on the floor of Congress for mentioning it, you may know it as the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  Christ told us the greatest commandment was to love one another as he loved us.  Somehow I do not see Jesus saying – “Nope, I need the window seat”.  Now to be fair, he would probably make every seat a window seat but that is a whole other post.

So how about you RoadWarriors?  Who are some of the people I forgot to include on the list?

Here is to hoping you are able to avoid them all on your travels.

What’s on your Bucket List?

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend at church.  His wife is currently training for her first full IronMan and was out training in the Texas heat by riding 65 miles.  Like I am sure the spouse of any endurance athlete feels every once in a while if they are being honest, he mentioned he was ready for the race to be done so the training could end and it would no longer be on the bucket list.  So I asked him

“Well, what’s on your bucket list?”

His answer was not what I had expected at all.

“I have pretty much done mine.  Martial arts – check.  Hockey – check.  Bass guitar – check.”

That got me really thinking.  If your bucket list is done, what is left?  Simple – adding more items to the bucket list.

Ok Andrew – what is on your travel bucket list?  What the things you want to accomplish around your fitness goals and keeping sane on the road?  So here are the top 5ons my RoadWarriorFit bucket list.

Swim in both the Atlantic and the Pacific on the same day.

I am never sure whether to cry or get excited every time I think about completing this one.  I am the kind of traveler that if I am in sight of the ocean, I have to get salty.  So much so that I have been known to take the last flight out of Miami just so I can hit the beach for an hour or even squeeze in a 30-minute run next to big blue.  I have had the opportunity to complete this one slip through my fingers on 4 different occasions that I can remember.  The challenge here is it usually means I am getting up way early to swim before meetings and staying up way late to swim after my plane lands.   Throw in a 5+ hour flight and that is one really long day.  Going to have to happen though.

Complete a RunDisney event.

If you are unfamiliar with these events, you need to check them out at rundisney.com.  I have registered and paid for 3 different RunDisney events over the last 5 years, including the Inaugural Star Wars ½ Marathon.  I have even gone so far as to train (including the long runs) to be ready and something has come up to prevent me from going.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.  I am so into this that I even know what my running costume will be if (when, I mean when) I will be able to check this one off.  For a great read on how to really maximize this goal, check out my friend Jennifer’s blog here.

Visit all 50 States:

Last I checked I think I am at 42 states that I have visited for work (43 in total).  I have the sick desire to visit all 50 on work trips.  I know it is a basic bucket list items but still, I want to make this happen.

Run the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Yep, those steps.  The ones Rocky conquers in Rocky III.  The ones I went to run about 2 years ago and headed the wrong direction out of the hotel and never made it.  I can hear the theme music now and can almost taste the raw eggs.

Train at one of the top MMA gyms in the country:

I make it a habit to research, contact and train at the martial arts gyms in my destination cities.  Just this week I trained at Art of Eight in San Diego during my trip.  There are a few top gyms that I have the goal of training with (assuming they let me).  I am one of those freaks who likes to get kicked in the head and who better to get kicked by than those who train with the best?

Bonus item – Workout aggressively in an airport

This one is just silly and I think it would be fun to have someone video other’s reactions while I was doing it.  I want to plan and complete a workout in the terminal of an airport.  And not some walking lunges, wall sit easily hidden workout, no, I want Shaun T/Insanity, sweat dripping,  “What is that freak doing?” kind of a workout.  The kind that would have to take place in another one of those airports with an Admirals Club with showers in it.

I have been blessed to be able to do a lot of really cool things while on the road, especially around fitness but there are a few that have escaped me thus far.  This was my top 5 list – would love to hear yours.  Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to seeing you on the road.

My favorite travel things….

Anyone who travels at all knows that life is just easier when you can carry everything with you on the plane and skip the fun of the baggage carrousel.  There is no place I would rather be less than standing around watching the metal conveyor belt revolve around a carpeted island of futility and wasted time.  I avoid it at all costs.  It does not matter whether I am traveling for the day or for the week, you can bet I will be getting it all to fit in the overhead bin so I pay special attention to what I pack in my bag.  Suitcase space is premium real estate and has to be utilized well.

So what are the things that make the grade for me?

Here is my list of what holds special place in my carry on and why.  These are just a few of my favorite things (cue the edelweiss background music):

shoes
Vibram Five Finger Shoes:

This was probably the first product that I purchased specifically because of the way they travel and the one that I get the most comments on.  Vibrams to put it simply, are awesome and yes, I do run in them regularly.  Now I am not in the camp that is all about minimalist footwear or the camp that wears Five Finger shoes because they will help strengthen the smaller muscles in your feet.  For me, these are all about how much space they take up in a suitcase.  When you wear a size 11 shoe like I do, your tennis shoes take up a lot of space, even if you do stuff them with socks and underwear.  These take up less space than my flip flops and I really do love working out in them now.  I started on the space argument but now don’t think I would ever switch back to traditional shoes.  To shop for your own, click here.

jump rope

Jump Rope:

This is one that travels with me about 50% of the time based on the hotel gym I may be encountering.   All you need is about 10 sq ft of space with an 8 ft ceiling and you can get a great HIIT cardio workout in.  One thing to note, if you carry a weighted speed rope like I do, be prepared to be stopped by TSA about 50% of the time.  They are not used to seeing them and often confuse them with a club of some type.  I have never been stopped when I have carried my true rope with wooden handles though.

shaker bottle
Water bottle:

Seems simple enough but I did a whole blog post on just this about a year ago.  I know carry a ‘Premium’ bottle with me so that I can have both the benefit of tracking the water I intake as well as being able to utilize the shaker function.

TRX
TRX:

I LOVE MY TRX!!!  However it usually only travels with me when I know the hotel gym that I will be experiencing is beyond lackluster.  This one really does take up a lot of space but is totally worth it.  I use it routinely at home and on the road and you can get a GREAT workout with this single apparatus.  With the door mount, you don’t even have to leave the hotel room.  Best travel fitness investment I have ever made.

Snack bag:

You can read all about the contents here but I always travel with a snack bag, even day trips.  If I am going to invest my time and energy into making sure I get a good workout in, I am going to do everything I can to not sabotage it by making poor dietary choices if I can avoid them.   I always also include Shakeology in my bag as I want complete nutrition.

mouthpiece
Mouthpiece:

So this one is pretty specific to the martial artist but it does bring up a good point.  I love to train in martial arts, especially rolling BJJ.  One piece of equipment that is critical to preventing injury is wearing a mouthpiece so I travel with one everywhere I go.  A mouthpiece is custom fit to your mouth so it is not like you just go borrow one or pick one up at Walmart.  By having my mouthpiece, I can go roll at any school that will have me with little to no notice.  It lets me pursue one of my passions.  For you it may be a raquette or a club but bring along what you are passionate about so that if the opportunity arises (or you create it), you are not left with the excuse “It is too bad I did not have my……”

So there you have it, the list of my favorite things that may or may not be in your suitcase today.  What makes your cut?  What are the things you simply can’t travel without?

For full disclosure, I am not receiving any type of incentive from the companies that make or distribute these products, with the exception of Shakeology as I am a Beachbody Coach.

Bad travel hobbies and Harper Lee

What you should be asking yourself right now is “What does the beloved author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and travel hobbies have anything to do with each other?” – I am so glad you asked.

No matter how productive you are on the road, there is still significant downtime you have to fill somehow.  You are always going to run into the situation where you can’t make a call, not enough time to make powering up the laptop worthwhile or quite frankly, you are just done with it and need to do something else.  This is the time that most folks fall back on their hobbies.  Those time fillers that also help to sooth the soul and restore the mind.  For my son it is streaming game play on Twitch, for my wife – streaming TED talks and fitness advice, for my Mother-in-Law it is knitting.  I on the other hand have some bad travel hobbies.

When I really analyze it, I have four hobbies – and none of them are conducive to the travel lifestyle:

Bad Travel Hobby #1 – Martial Arts: 

I actively practice American Karate and have just started my study of Brazilian Jui Jitsu.   Now I will actively admit that there are times when I can get out and roll as I travel but for the most part, it is a hobby (lifestyle) that I  practice only when I am at home.  I watch videos and study the arts while I am on the road but the reality is the only way for me to get better is to get out and participate.  As I am writing this, it has been nearly 3 weeks since I stepped on a mat and I am Jonesing for my return.

Bad Travel Hobby #2 – Aquariums:

Way back in the day I wanted to be a Marine Biologist, so much so that I actually have degree in Aquatic Biology.  Well life happened along the way and I took an alternative direction but I have never lost my love for the water and aquariums. I have a reef tank in my house that about once a month looks great.  The reason it is only once a month?  You have to be present to take care of a tank the right way.  It takes time, attention, detailed monitoring and basically good old TLC to have a salt water reef tank really thrive.  That is really hard to do from 1000 miles away…even if you are staring at the ocean (osmosis is not that strong).

Bad Travel Hobby #3 – Gardening:

See everything above except think above the water line.  Every year I plant a garden on the side of the house.  Every year it starts off strong (before the TX heat really kicks in) and every year about this time, I watch it begin to wither away in 5 day increments when I get home.  I love getting my hands dirty and cooking with fruits of my labor but it really is a bad travel hobby.

Bad Travel Hobby #4 – Home Improvement:

I really do love working around the house and am pretty good with my hands but again, you actually have to be home to be able to work on the house. Watching DIY videos of the closet organization system you want to put in will not ever really get you any closer to actually putting in that closet organization system.

So how does Harper Lee fit in to your self-realization Mr. RoadWarriorFit?

Again – so glad you asked.  I recently saw that a publisher is releasing her little known manuscript that preceded To Kill A Mockingbird and it made me realize that I used to read.  A lot.

Before we had iPads that had every movie I have ever owned available and/or a Wikipedia page on anything I could ever want to know, I traveled with a book….or three.  I devoured Presidential biographies.  Read extensively on the Revolutionary War era and would consume business books like they were a part of the breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant.

Somewhere a long the way my time filler shifted.

I am not even sure how or when it happened other than the introduction of the iPad.

I could now carry ALL of my books with me at once!!!

It was a wonderful theory but the application sucked.  I was distracted by games, email, movies and YouTube.  I lost my way and now time fillers are no longer productive they are actually destructive.

So here is my commitment, I am going to rekindle at least one good RoadWarrior habit – Reading.  The first book to put back on the list, the High School required reading list favorite, Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.  I remember liking it well enough back then (unlike Catcher in the Rye) and maybe, just maybe, the southern tale of Atticus and Scout Finch will rekindle my friendship with my long lost friend, the book.

So what are your good RoadWarrior hobbies?  How do you fill time productively?

Can’t wait to hear and look forward to seeing you on the road.  I will be the one with the iPad actually reading.  If I’m not, you have full permission to call me out on it.

The Spirit of Competition and TSA Security Lines

Have you ever had one of those trips where everything seems to go wrong?   Yeah, me too but you have to find the win in everything.

I am coming off of a trip where I arrived at my hotel at midnight only to be told that the hotel was oversold that evening and I was being ‘walked’ to another hotel, in a different chain and one that was on a much lower level of service.  Awesome, right?

And this was with a chain I am very loyal to and have status with.  Strike one!

Then in true Road Warrior fashion, I spent the day running around Atlanta with one of my co-workers who continuously got us lost. It was not her fault.  I am well aware that this person is completely directionally dysfunctional but for some unknown reason, I let her drive.  She even sincerely offered to slip out of the driver’s seat and let me drive but I was too ‘polite’ to let that happen.  The result, we were late to both of the meetings scheduled for the day and I HATE being late.  Strike two!

To top it all off, I got to the airport in Atlanta only to find out that the secondary security line, the one that puts me right by my gate and is always way shorter than the main line, was closed.  Strike three!

You can probably guess that I am not in the best of moods at this point of the day.  It is late, I have been rushing all day, I have continually been marginalized and I just want to get on a plane home.  How am I ever going to make this trip palatable?  Enter unknown Road Warrior #2.

I still don’t know his name, or what he does, or where he was going but I know that I beat him through security.  If I could, I would make getting through security an Olympic sport.  Now this process does not start with unpacking your laptop, nor taking off shoes or even making sure you know what 3:1:1 is referencing.

No!!! It begins with lane selection!! 

There is an art to this and RoadWarrior#2 and I were about to do battle.  We both had had rough days and needed some release.  So the challenge was on, who could make it through security first.  I had to do some quick evaluation:

  • Evaluating the other travelers in front of you (are there families? Travelers that are obviously not seasoned?  Elderly who you know are going to set off the alarm?)
  • Evaluating the length of the line options
  • Evaluating the TSA officer who is in charge of ticket validation
  • Observing the TSA officer who is running the x-ray machine (the most important factor in my opinion)

With our lines chosen, we waited with baited breath to see who would prevail, me in the longer but seemingly faster moving line or he in the shorter but ‘TSA Challenged’ choice.  In the end it took a last minute jump from one x-ray machine to another and a random extra screening warning on RoadWarrior#2’s part to ensure the victory for me.  A hard fought win at the end of a challenging day.

More importantly, it was levity to a heavy day that two RoadWarriors were able to share and brighten each other’s trips.  So stay safe and be friendly out there RoadWarriors and remember, if you are getting in line at TSA, it is always a race.