On the Road Again: Tips for the Traveling Dad

I just arrived at the Type A Mom Conference in Asheville, NC, for three days of networking, listening, speaking and connecting. Because I’m a frequent traveler, being a Gold Elite member on several airlines means I usually get to pick my seat, bypass the lines and get a little extra leg room. I get to try new restaurants and hotels, occasionally meet the locals and sleep with peace and quiet. Laugh Mom used to say I was “lucky” because I get to see the country (and sometimes the world) and not have to be home with the kids. Sounds great, right?

Here’s the reality of road travel: It blows. Sure, there may be rare instances where you get a few hours of free time to see friends around the country and get out and explore, but for the most part it means an early morning to the airport followed by a late night in a conference room working. Rinse and repeat until work is done and then it’s right back to the airport. If you’re lucky you’ll make it home for a home cooked meal or to see the kids before bed. And don’t even think about sex. You just got back to see your wife who’s now completely exhausted from managing everything from meals to school to extra curricular activities to the dog to laundry and dishes. This is in addition to being inundated with fart, pee and poop jokes non-stop since you left. Sex is typically off the table as soon as you forward your itinerary to her.

Understanding that it’s not easy for us road warriors either, I’ve put together a few tips to make road life more manageable:

  • Do some non-work reading. Pick up a book, buy a magazine, update your reader. Don’t want to wear out your eyes? Try audiobooks from eMusic as well as podcasts. HBO posts the full version of some shows like Real Time with Bill Maher and NPR’s All Things Considered. Feeling really ambitious? Learn a new language.
  • Eat healthy. Yes, I know it’s hard because you’re in and out of, say, In-and-Outs, but avoid the fries and other carb-loaded crap that makes you tired and inflates the spare tire.
  • Game it up. Pick up a PSP or Nintendo DS or download some games on your iPhone, especially on longer trips. Sure, iPhone games are pretty quick and shallow but they help kill time on a quick flight. Just don’t play me in Madden or I’ll have to crush you on the plane. 😛
  • Get some sleep. The best thing you can do to stay healthy after being exposed to all of those germs and doing all of that hard work is make sure your body has a chance to recover. I would advocate some sort of vitamin C products, whether it’s juice or pills.
  • Bring your gym clothes. I’m not suggesting that you’ll have time or will always use them but having them means it’s one less excuse to not work out. If you can’t fit them in your bag just wear comfortable shoes and go for a walk. I’ve seen the downtowns of Atlanta, Boston, Washington DC, Cleveland, Chicago and New York just by venturing out for a walk and burning some calories.
  • Get organized. See that mess of a desktop you’re staring at? Clean it up by putting your work files from the desktop and download folders into their actual places. Take it a step further by filling out your expense reports as you fly.
  • Buy wrinkle free shirts and khakis. Who wants to iron, really?

Any other travel tips you’d like to add? Moms, any tips you want to share for making the return more manageable?