Being a consultant for VMware, I spend about 70% of my time on the road in hotel rooms across the world. Recently, I spent over a month straight in a German hotel room while going to work and doing a job far away from the norm of my every day life. It can be intense at times and I’d be lying if I didn’t get home sick but over the past year, I’ve found a few things that have helped keep me grounded and happy while living on the road. This post is going to detail a few of those things in an effort that maybe it will help someone out there like me.
Walking Score of Hotel
One of the most important choices to make your time away comfortable and exciting. I typically seek out a hotel near places I might find interesting in a new city. After a day of work in a new place, what better way to discover the city but by walking around. Before booking, I do a quick search of the city and what it might be known for. A few hot restaurants, museums, or other points of interest and then see if my preferred hotel chain has a spot nearby. This allows me to get back, change, and go exploring. Some people also find driving in a different place a bit daunting, so this helps alleviate that as well.
Hit the Gym
I am not a gym rat, by any stretch of the imagination. I avoid going to the gym at all costs when I am at home because I want to just relax after a week away and enjoy the fruits of my labor and bask in the fruits of my home I am away from for so long. But while away, you have limited excuses for not getting off your ass and at the least just walking on a treadmill. It’s a great way to wind down, it keeps off the weight of typically having to eat out for all your meals, and it’s good for you!
Portable Router with OpenVPN
This one goes without saying. Hopping on hotel wifi is a risk. It’s open and a security risk. If you’re like me and travel with a laptop, phone, and tablet, having to sign into the hotel wifi on each device and then connect to your vpn can be a hassle. Getting a small, portable router fixes this problem. They’re $20-$30 on Amazon and can give you a peace of mind while leveraging these open networks. Mine is always on VPN mode when powered on so I know that in the very least, my communications are secure.
Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, the concierge… all are great for finding things to do between getting out of the office and sleeping. Find an awesome local coffee roaster, a mom and pop restaurant serving the local food scenes best dishes, a craft beer bar slinging beers from the region of the country you are in. All are great ways to get a feel for where you are calling home for however many days or weeks ahead.
There have been plenty of blogs and books about mindfulness and its benefits so this won’t go into that. With the surplus of alone time, you might as well use it to better yourself (see Hit the Gym above). Learning the act of meditation can aid in getting over a rough day at the office or even just coping with being away from your family and loved ones. It takes a bit to get going but try to build into a part of your daily routine and you will thank me later.
Be Picky with your Flights
I know some people are completely brand loyal to their air carrier of choice but sometimes your project lands you in a place they might not have great routes to. Some will put up with 2+ layovers for the segments and miles but your relaxation at home is at risk! I personally will give up the miles in a heartbeat if it means I can get home 5 hours sooner. If it is a long term project you will be traveling to for the foreseeable future, maybe it’s time to change flight preferences. Open a credit card under the new airline, call them up and say you aren’t happy with your current provider and would like your status matched on their airline. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In the end, it’s all up to you but I know that I want to be home ASAP.
Read comics, read tech books, read blogs, read whatever you want. Get your mind going on something you care about. Your household chores are waiting at home, use this time to catch up on something that interest you. Maybe even sprinkle in some gaming with a Nvidia Shield or Nintendo Switch, but you didn’t hear that from me.
By no means is this an exhaustive list but these are my personal list of things I try to do each project/week I am away from home.