This has been a tough but happy year for us with lots of challenges and changes. My new job has been hard not only because it’s new and difficult, but also because I now travel a lot.
I’m amazed at how easy it is to disengage with what matters most when I’m in hotel rooms far away—especially when I’m worn out. I sleep less, exercise less, and eat worse. Even my thoughts and behaviors can stray.
I don’t want to be a different person on the road than I am at home And I don't ever want to come home feeling like a worse person than I was when I left. As Russell Nelson said, “Living life in separate compartments can lead to internal conflict and exhausting tension.”
Part of loving and respecting my family is to be consistent and devoted, no matter where I am. So I’ve begun looking for traveler survival strategies.
When I meet other travelers, I ask them what they do to keep true to themselves and their families. This week I got the best answer yet. I sat next to a wonderful gentleman who, as a vice president for a large company, travels constantly. He had several specific pieces of advice, but summed it all up with a simple directive: “You have to control your travel and not let your travel control you.”
I was reminded immediately of David Bednar’s book on the joy of learning: Increase in Learning: Spiritual Patterns for Obtaining Your Own Answers. In it, he references the Book of Mormon’s description of things that were created to act and things that were created to be acted upon (2 Nephi 2:14) and says: “I personally do not know of a principle more central, important, or essential to spiritual learning than the principle of acting as agents and not being acted upon as agents.”
My travel is a thing for me to act upon, not the other way around. So it’s up to me to set the terms, to establish the safeguards, and maintain the habits that will keep me consistent to my own values wherever life might take me.
I’ve collected a list of traveling strategies that I’m eager to share. But two stand out to me and I follow them every time: 1) Take the batteries out of the remote, and 2) Put up a family picture. I’ve found that nothing good comes from watching TV alone in a hotel. And Wendy had our family picture specially printed on an aluminum plate at Aluminyze to make it
Other strategies have come from colleagues, from my LDS Bishop (who travels
heavily), from a fantastic article in the Ensign and from strangers I’ve asked all over the western US:
1. If you can, fly in the morning of instead of the night before.
Similarly, fly back the same night, instead of the next morning.
2. Put family reminders up around the room.
3. Right when you check in, unpack your bag and organize your stuff.
4. Pray vocally morning, noon, and night.
5. Eat light and healthy foods and don’t over-indulge (even if the food
6. Exercise every day, even if it’s just a few minutes.
7. Stay at the same hotel chain as much as possible so it’s easier to get a
full night’s sleep.
8. Keep the TV off at all times.
9. Partner up with other travelers who share your values.
10. Look at travel as a constant opportunity for missionary work; talk to
everyone you meet about your joy in the gospel and the church.
I’d love to collect more. If you travel a lot, what strategies do you have?