Suzanne LaFata discovers some commonalities between her road warrior friends and finds that having a certain set of qualities makes life on the road much easier for some professionals.
It's a question we each should ask before embarking on a career path that finds us traveling constantly -- am I willing to be a road warrior?
For most reading this article, the answer is a resounding and enthusiastic, "Yes." For others, it's quite possibly a necessary evil, and their business trips are more an exercise in tolerance than something done with ease.
For instance, a colleague, new to traveling for business, was crabbing about his less-than-direct route from Chicago to Denver. One airline could get him to Denver via Cincinnati; another airline planned to send him through L.A.. Another carrier left him sitting for over an hour in Charlotte. My advice to him: Sit down, order a beer, let the pilot do the flying, and earn your next free trip to Europe. Who cares where the plane goes -- as long as you get home.
Another friend insisted upon packing more than necessary for each and every trip. She brought enough clothing to make sure she always had a choice of blouses and shoes each day. She ran herself ragged laundering and re-packing over the weekend when she was home. She wouldn't use a dry-cleaner while on the road, fearing the hotel dry cleaner would lose an item or not have it done in time. Her toiletry bag was as big as her overnight bag, packed with all of the incidentals that could get her through a litany of just-in-case scenarios. Needless to say, she did not last long as a road warrior.
What makes a road warrior?
The keys to being a successful road warrior lie in what you as an individual can do to better tolerate and streamline your life for business travel. After chatting with several colleagues, I discovered some commonalities between us that reveal qualities we possess that make business travel easier.
We're a tidy lot. Road warriors have relatively neat homes that aren't filled with bric-a-brac or cluttered with old newspapers and magazines. We all seem to live with the same philosophy: If I can't pack it up in a weekend or carry it in a piece of luggage, I don't need it.
We're thrifty. Road warriors recognize that there generally is a store on almost every corner. We don't pack something that may not be used. We buy it if we need it and leave it at the hotel if it's no longer of use.
We're flexible. Road warriors can't be fussy. We don't need a special pillow or a type of bed. We eat just about anything in a pinch -- from fast food to a sub from a gas station across the street.
We're adaptable. Road warriors sleep almost as well sitting up as we do lying down.
We're agile.: We can get re-dressed in security line in the blink of an eye. Left hand drops shoes to the ground while right hand picks up laptop and shoves it in briefcase while stepping into shoes. Belt is buckled on the run for the gate -- 15 seconds -- flat!
We're patient. Long lines at the airport just give road warriors a chance to catch up on our thoughts or read the newspaper. We don't crab about traffic and are accustomed to getting lost. We even expect to be held up. And we live by the motto, "There's always another flight."
Life for a road warrior will never be perfect. Shedding some of your expectations and relaxing a bit can help you better handle the realities of frequent business travel.
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