Has anyone come to you and say how lucky you were? All those trips that you take, the glamorous hotels you stay at and you get to eat out every night. For those of us that have or are living that lifestyle will tell you is there are many adjectives to describe their working lives. However, “lucky” is not one of them.
The most frequent word that comes up is lonely. Being away from family, friends and regular routines for extended periods of time is incredibly lonely and hard. Eating meals by yourself, staying in another box-like room with only a desk, a TV, a chair, and a bed is lonely and hard. The miles and miles, either in the air or by car where you are in complete solitude without having the luxury of speaking to another human being until you arrive at your client’s office, is lonely and hard.
A 2015 study by the Harvard Business School found that there are physiological, psychological and emotional, as well as social costs to frequent travelers. During my extensive travels, I used the following strategies and hope that they may be of help to those that are ‘road warriors’ in easing the loneliness.
Working Out: Once you have checked into your hotel, find where the workout room is. Deposit your bags in your room and go for a workout. If there is no workout room, go for a walk/run. This will relax you and actually brings clarity to not only today but also to what will be happening tomorrow. It can be as brief as 30 minutes, or as long as you want. However, the importance of doing this is that it will allow you to decompress. By decompressing, you become more creative and focused.
Don’t work in your room: After taking a nice hot shower from the workout, get dressed, grab your laptop and/or any other work and get out of your room. You may be asking why? Do you work in your bedroom at home? Thought not. Your hotel room is your bedroom. Go to the lobby and find their work center. If they don’t have one, go to the lounge, or even a nearby coffee shop. By being away from your room you are with people, even if it’s a quick ‘hi’, you are still connecting with people and the loneliness is diminished. With that, you have greater focus in your work; as well, the TV, bed or feeling sorry for yourself because you are alone are not a distraction. You will find this decreases the amount of time you spend doing the same work that you would do in your room.
Find a popular place for dinner or drinks: Again, you want to mingle with people and you will find it very easy to strike up conversations. Ask them about their city, as people always like to brag about their city. I used to look for people like myself, other road warriors, and we would swap stories. Many times, we would have dinner together, or at least a drink. Once that is done, you are ready to settle in for the night.
Keep in touch with family and important friends: Once you get back to your room, make those calls that are most important; the ones to the people that matter most to you. Check in to see how they are doing. Ask about their day and tell them about yours. Never forget to stay in touch with those that matter most.
Get ready for tomorrow: Lay out your clothes. Pack everything else so that you can just grab and go. Take a quick glance of who you are going to see first, as that is your most important call of the day. The second call only becomes the most important when you finish with the first one. Grab some light reading and drift away into dreamland.
Eat breakfast: It is the most important meal of the day. Your car runs on fuel. Breakfast is your fuel. Without it, you will never be at your best. As a reminder, coffee is not breakfast.
These tips were for weekly trips. At times I have spent weeks away from home and in a subsequent blog, I will share how to best handle those weekends away. Until then, safe travels, keep your eyes on the road and remember as Confucius said: “Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.”