I used to travel for work much more than I do now. I was never one of those rarely-home-always-on-the-road kind of travelers, but I have put in my share of miles in the past. I can’t say as I really miss it much – I do miss some of the places I’d see and people I’d visit, but otherwise I’m not upset that I’ve given up the “glamour” of the road to be able to drive 15 minutes to my office each day.
Once in a while, however, the opportunity to travel pops up again. And I’m discovering that either because of age, or being out of practice, I’m just not as good at it as I used to be. I don’t mean that I don’t know how to do it – I still know how to pack, I have no issues with various modes of travel, staying at hotels, even coordinating things back home while I’m away – those are all Real Woman skills that last a life time. No, the change now is more a personal/physical one.
This week I had a short overnight trip for a planning meeting with some co-workers and associates with our marketing agency. As trips go, this one was a piece of cake. I carpooled with a co-worker who nicely did all the driving. The distance was not extensive. (Although I will say the traffic was rather ugly; if I had to commute through the NYC/NJ Metro area on a daily basis, I’d have to take anti-anxiety meds). We stayed at a nice hotel, met in a comfortable conference room, and were treated to dinner out and lunch brought in. I greatly enjoy spending time with the people we were meeting with. Not a bad jaunt.
However…. When I was younger and traveling more, I could much more easily handle a few aspects of this type of trip. For example, in those days I had no problems with the challenge of eating away from home. It didn’t really matter if I had a few days of unhealthy food, or indulged a bit too much. If we had a social evening out, I could eat late, have a few adult beverages, stay up past 11:00, and the next day only feel a bit tired. Now I suffer from food hangovers. I carry Tums in my overnight bag. If I’ve had a couple of drinks and dinner didn’t end until near bedtime, falling asleep is a challenge, and the sleep itself is interrupted by hot flashes and weird dreams.
Then there are the aches and pains of sleeping in a foreign bed and sitting for long periods of time – either in a vehicle, or in meeting room chairs. If I have any prayer of avoiding some discomfort, I take advantage of the hotel fitness center, and try to get up out of my chair during a meeting as often as I can without being rude. Today, about half way through the day I was considering starting a new trend where after lunch, all chairs in a room should be removed, forcing participants to stand and roam while carrying on the meeting. My guess is it would be a more interactive environment as well.
By the end of a trip – or perhaps even part way through — my butt is numb and my knees are in pain. My back has stiffened up. In short, I feel that somehow during a 9-hour day, I have passed through an invisible portal and come out the other side as my grandmother. I waddle my way to the ladies’ room to check my reflection and make sure I’m not suddenly 75 years old.
And finally, the other facet that I used to be able to handle much better is the weariness at the end of the journey. As I said, this particular trip was an easy one for me – I did not do the driving, and the meeting sessions themselves were not stressful. Yet it seems now that the combination of the use of my brain, the personal interactions, the lack of sleep, and the time on the road generally renders me slightly useless upon my return home. My energy level allowed only for me to unpack, start a load of wash and catch up on the past couple days of activity with my family. I had no desire or drive to make dinner, so my husband nicely ordered a pizza – thus of course adding to my food hangover issues. My mental agility feels to be at only a slightly higher level than that of my dog. (No offense to my furry son).
So I have made a few notes for tomorrow, listed the calls to return that I just didn’t have the enthusiasm to make tonight, had a few minutes on my Elliptical machine to ease my knees, and have just popped a couple Tums. To those of you who are still Road Warriors and regularly spend many days and nights away from home as just a way of life, I salute you. To the other R.W’s like me out there, I think I hear our beds calling our names.