Picture if you will: a Road Warrior.
No, not this guy.
I’m talking about the traveling champion of business, a little something like this:
You see these entities all over fictional pop culture. They cruise around airports, airplanes, transit, and hotels in their perfectly pressed business suits. Confidently, they whip out their laptops and work for hours no matter the conditions. For a prototypical example, check out George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham in 2009’s excellent “Up in the Air“.
I travel a fair amount for work. Last month, I was in Germany/England/Netherlands setting up and training on Puzzle Break: Escape from the Future and the first volume of our Royal Mystery games on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas. In a week, I’ll be in France doing the same for Escape the Rubicon. So far this year, I’ve flown 17 times in 4 months on one airline alone.
For my trip next week: This room will be the most technologically advanced escape room in the world. I’ll get to see the fruition of months and months of intense work across 3 states. The public reception will be amazing. I love spending time on cruise ships. And with all that said: I am not looking forward to traveling.
Traveling destroys me. It is draining & stressful. Nothing is comfortable. You’ve got to drag your whole life with you, and may god have mercy on your soul if you lose your passport or wallet. Internet may or may not work. Delays. Delays delays delays.
How do people work in this environment?! I can barely think thoughts, let alone focus enough to accomplish substantive work tasks. On many airplanes, there’s not even enough room to fully open a laptop!
The biggest problem I encounter is trying (and failing) to focus on two things at once. When traveling between your ultimate destinations, no matter what the context, you’re waiting for something. And when you’re waiting, you must keep part of your attention on making sure you don’t miss that for which you are waiting. On the bus? Can’t focus, might miss my stop. At the airport? Can’t focus, might miss notification to board. On the plane? Well, it’s hard to focus when you have negative personal space. If the Internet is working at all (spoilers: it isn’t).
Arriving at my destination isn’t much of a respite either. Once I’m snugly and securely in a hotel or back at my place, I’m demolished. I need hours and hours of recovery before I can feel human again, and that’s not even factoring in the jet lag.
Thing is: I see actual road warriors all the time! I can never understand it. How do these superheroes do it? How can you sit on the hard floor of a crowded terminal and refine that presentation? How do you open your laptop 80% of the way and crane your neck down at a Kafkaesque angle to bang out those emails? My hat is off to you as I sit in the seat next to you trying not to explode from jetlag and soreness.
Do these people pretend? Are they faking it? Do they try to business and give up when I’m not looking? Or do they possess something(s) I lack?
What about you? Are you a road warrior? What’s your secret, and can it be taught? I sure hope to learn one day. If not, I’ll see you at the airport. I’ll be the guy trying and failing to sleep.