Staying Sane on The Road
Today we are driving back from a weekend with my family in Florida celebrating my grandparent’s 60th anniversary and 80th birthdays This came after only spending about five days at home all of which was filled with meetings and non-stop work in order to get the most out of our time in the studio. Our road stamina used to be much stronger than it is now. After taking nearly five months off from travel, I feel as if I am out of shape and out of practice when it comes to travel. Though work travel can feel like riding a bicycle and our muscle memory to the routine comes back quickly, it doesn’t take away the feeling of being out of practice.
Just like working back into anything in life it makes you aware of new ways to improve your old practices. Maybe you find a way to do something better. Maybe something isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Maybe somethings aren’t as big of a deal as they once were. There is shift and changes that can be good even if you feel as if you are rediscovering your balance in the process.
I used to value the busy lifestyle of being on the road. I felt in some way it indicated that I was successful and that exhaustion was part of that sign of being great at my work. For many people working that way is their validation of success and fulfillment, but recently I have become comfortable with a more settled and consistent life. I have loved the five days back home this last week between one trip to another. In the process, I was reminded that leaving is important in order to appreciate the rhythm you can make when you are in one place. I also realized that self-preservation is more important than anything when you travel. After nearly three years of living a life driving, flying, and living out of a suitcase nearly every month in some capacity, I feel that settling in to what I have in front of me is more important than anything to me right now. There is a contented feeling that I am embracing without hesitation these days.
There is an energy I get when I travel for work and I do enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, expand my skills, and be inspired by new places. But there is something satisfying about your own bed and the slow mornings that come at home. Though I am ready for a more relaxed life that involves less of me going from one place to another and cross-country flights, I know that my work still calls me to the road so Mike and I together have worked to develop structures, comforts, and little things to make those moments on the road a little less stressful, exhausting, and difficult to recover from. Here are just a few things we have been doing lately to remain sane on the road:
Don’t Try to Keep Every Plate Spinning:
Keeping up with work back at the office isn’t easy especially when you are traveling for one client but have a couple others still on the dock back home and need to keep them moving. We try to set expectations for ourselves and with our clients that are doable and allow us down time. Travel is exhausting no matter how you slice it. We have learned our work is no where near as good on the road as it is in the studio because of the many directions you are pulled. Our focus is far better when we can dedicated a whole day undistracted to a website for a client or a photoshoot for content creation for a brand. Trying to make it happen while on the move isn’t worth it because ultimately it isn’t our best work and that is no good. So we set timelines that allow us room to travel and then to create our best work. Great communication and clear deliverables help us to relax and our clients to know they are receiving our best work. This keeps everyone a little more sane and happy.
For the past year we have been using IFTT to help the blog make the most impact even when I cannot run the social myself. This helps me stay focused in meetings with clients and not be worried about getting the word out about a post or campaign we are running if I am spending the day onsite with a client or at a shoot. It also helps back home to lower my time on social channels so I can stay focused where I need to. We also use Lyric to help us keep an eye on the temperature and weather back home for our house. Also, we can make sure the house is ready for us upon arrival as well with just the push of a button on our phones.
Don’t Try to Fit it All In:
Sure you can do it, especially if you are young, but honestly it isn’t worth it. Go to the party, but peace out if you are tired after one drink. We promise your body will thank you even if you feel lame as you watch some crappy TV and then fall asleep at 10 pm. Worst case you save a little money and maybe it allows you to head back for a weekend to see all the places you wanted, visit the people you missed seeing, and see the view you hoped to. Self-preservation is more important than fitting it all in. Know thy self are words I have learned to fully embrace while working and traveling even if someone makes a suggestion at how lame I am being.
Find the Healthiest Food You Can:
It’s hard when you aren’t always in charge of where you will eat or what will show up to a meeting for food options, but I have learned to pack snacks that keep me full, but also to use the fact I went to bed early to wake up early, and find a local juice bar or invest in the expensive breakfast menu in the hotel because a day of good and healthy food in your system will keep you on your game. Also, opt for water whenever possible. Guzzle it like it’s your job, because it will keep you awake, hydrated, and less likely to feel the effects of jet-lag on the trip home. You will be better able to have to take a day off when you get home in order to recover.
Learn to Renew on the Run:
We learned this essential and important tip from our buddies Caroline and Jayden Lee at Echo and Earl and Woodnote Photography. They have hit every continent together while working together, so when they tell me travel tips I listen with my ears wide-open. This phrase has changed how Mike and I work as a traveling/working creative couple. So what does it mean? Basically you know something is going to go wrong. Someone will mess up the map. Someone will forget the credit card somewhere. Something will maybe make you late to the airport. It is bound to happen, but you have to let go of it in the moment and not dwell on it. We recently had a moment like this on our last trip out to LA. We were about to board a flight from MSP to LAX which was three hours and we were boarding angry with each other about something small. There we were stuck next to each other surrounded by tons of people and we really needed to handle this disagreement. We could have sat angry, pent up, or we could have made a scene in order to solve it. Instead, we texted back and forth, solved the issue and in minutes were asleep on each other’s shoulder with no need to let that moment ruin the rest of our three hour flight. It used to be those moments would be pivotal and hard to overcome on our trips and end up setting the tone for the entire trip. Now, they are quickly over and moved on from. Choosing the right battles is important when working and traveling especially with someone else.
I would love to hear how each of you choose to handle life on the road. What have you learned from leisure travel and from work travel? Any moments that taught you a great lesson?
All images are from this Summer’s Mille Mitten trip.