May 25, 2011
Biggest question I get: How do you do it?
My name is Tim and I'm a road warrior. I've flown almost five million miles since 1999, and for the last month, been out of town five days a week (one city a day). For many, this sounds like a hell-on-earth, something you could only play in a movie (like Up In the Air).
But, like anything else, it's really a design issue. I can't say that it's 100% enjoyable, but I've been able to find ways to make it highly bearable. Today, I'm holed up in the Admirals Club at Chicago O'Hare. My flight's been cancelled, and I've got five hours to kill - so I figured it was a good time to tell you 'how I do it.'
1 - Logistics: First things first, you have to travel with the right gear. I use a TUMI suitcase and TUMI T-Pass nylon briefcase. The briefcase rocks, because it's got a TSA approved design where I don't have to remove my laptop at security! Next, get a CLEAR card to skip the security line (really!) at Orlando and Denver. Many more airports to be added soon. I carry Richard Solo power backups for my Apple gear (the Mophie juice pack doubled the weight of my iPhone, so I returned it).
For practical issues related to appearance: Carry your home blow dryer, as hotel ones are not dependable and can give you frequent bad hair days. Make sure and keep the dry cleaner plastic around your suits/shirts to avoid wrinkles - and whenever possible buy no-iron dress shirts.
2 - Health: Wash your hands at every step of the way, and carry sanitizer. Avoid sick people, move if you have to and use the overhead fan on planes to divert their germs. Drink water often and carry your own filter/bottle solution (I use a Clear product) to avoid depending on $$$ bottled water. Avoid sugar, as it breaks down resistance.
Sleep is important on the road, so here's my tips: Make your room really cold (I like 65 degrees), because being hot will wake you up and make you sleep fitfully. Request a room far away from elevators. Carry your own alarm clocks (a real clock and your iPhone, set to Airplane mode). Unlpug the hotel alarm clock or make sure the alarm is off (as the previous guest has it set to wake you up at 4am.) Don't watch ANY TV or drink liquids within an hour of going to bed. If you wake up, don't look at the clock, instead, count down from 200 using 3 at a time increments (eg., 197, 194, etc.).
3. Mind: Make friends, especially when you are trapped on planes (read my NYT feature on this: A Chatters Guide To Easing Anxiety). Sitting there in silence with your iPod on will keep you from meeting others. They are key to making trips more pleasant, especially during interrupted travel. Be gracious to TSA security, servers and attendants. You'll get back the same energy that you give them. Be grateful for each city you visit, walk around the block after you check in to take in the sights. Call your significant other, often, and tell him/her "I love you."
Lastly, prior to a hard trip (multiple segments, red eyes, hard projects), rehearse your 'dance moves' mentally the day before the trip. Visualize a challenging but successful journey, going through the scenarios in your head. Relax, realizing you've got the gear, the plan and the purpose to make it all work.
Share this with anyone you know that's a road warrior too. We are all in this together.