Looking at the lighter side of being a road warrior can keep you sane!

For those who don’t travel extensively with their work, it may sound very exciting to have one day in Brisbane, one in Sydney and the next in Perth – but the road warrior knows – it can be exhausting. Would love to share the lighter side of last week with you and I am sure any regular road warriors will also appreciate the humour in my experiences.

These days with a tight corporate market, I aim to make myself available to as many speaking opportunities as I can – even though sometimes the logistics become very interesting. Last week was a perfect example – On Tuesday night I presented in Geelong, Wednesday lunchtime in Hobart, Thursday evening in Brisbane and Friday afternoon in Sydney. Sounds simple enough. Logistically it looked like this:

1. Tuesday – fly to Melbourne – pick up a rental car – drive to Geelong – check in to hotel – mini rest in the afternoon, presented to a great group of young professionals in the evening, back to the hotel around 8pm, watched a bit of TV and off to sleep.

2. Wednesday – Woke at 5 a.m., drove from Geelong to Tullamarine airport, topped up the petrol, returned the rental car, breakfast at the airport, flew to Hobart, presented to a small group of business owners about writing articles, ebooks, blogs etc., taxi to the airport, 3 hour wait for flight Hobart to Gold Coast and home to Tweed Heads around 10 pm.

3. Thursday – catch up mode in the office in the morning and then drove to Brisbane. Checked into the hotel, had a couple of hours nap, set up for the evening presentation to a group of Office Professionals – great presentation, lots of questions, chatted to the participants, back to the hotel room and a reasonably early night.

4. Friday – Alarm woke me at 5 a.m. NSW time, checked out of  hotel, drove to Brisbane airport in time for 6 a.m. Qld. departure, navigated the Brisbane airport car park – which will be fantastic when it is completed, but is slightly confusing right now for a New South Welshman, breakfast at the airport,  flight delayed, we finally board at 6.30 am qld and eventually get to Sydney around 9 a.m. nsw Thankfully I am the after lunch speaker so I make my way to Luna park – a great venue for the  Executive Assistants Network conference – lots of fun with the audience. Quick change back into my travel clothes, back to the airport for another 2 hour wait for flight departure to Brisbane. Traverse the Brisbane airport car park again and drive back to Tweed Heads – Lots of road works, entertained myself by listening to the car radio – unfortunately my football team lost their match, home at 10.30 pm. Exhausted!

Thankfully not every week is like this – have voice will travel. Would love to share some funny things that happened during those travels.

1. On Thursday night after my presentation I was given a lovely bunch of flowers and I also had a bag with some books in it, handouts etc. and a display unit for the books. I asked one of the staff to help me carry my bits and pieces to my room, which was on the same floor as the conference room. We were chatting away and as I got to the room and swiped the lock I opened the door to a very neat room, all the pillows fluffed up on the bed, curtains closed, chocolates on the bed. “Oh no, this isn’t my room”  – “Well it must be your room or you would not be able to open the door.” No, I definitely left my room messy, I had a sleep this afternoon and I didn’t make the bed, and I definitely would not have chocolates on the bed because I would eat them.” “Robyn, this is definitely your room. The housemaid freshens up the rooms every evening.” I slunk into the room feeling like a total idiot! It definitely was my room and those chocolates were very tasty!

2. On Tuesday driving from Geelong to Melbourne airport was interesting. I have been known to get lost before and I have a resistance to using GPS navigators as I think if we keep dumbing down our brains by using appliances to think for us – we will end up with inactive brains. Well that’s my theory. I know I had driven from Melbourne airport to Geelong – but I did take a wrong turn with some road works and ended up on the wrong road, so I made sure I checked with the hotel receptionist – “you can’t miss it, just get into the western ring road and follow the airport sign”. That sounded easy enough and I managed to find the right road heading out of Geelong – and I was off. Lots of airport signs, I was on a roll. Picture me driving on a straight road, no chance to turn off anywhere since the last airport sign I had seen. And all of sudden – there is a sign Corio and another name that escapes me, but no airport signage. Mild panic overtook as I doubted my navigational ability, wondered exactly how on a straight road I had managed to get onto the wrong road – and now I looked like I was on the road to Corio. I had almost talked myself into purchasing a GPS device, when I saw that wonderful blue airport sign – phew – I was still on the right road – I am not totally incompetent. Before long I was at the airport, now to fill up the petrol and return the rental car.

3. Just in case you find yourself in a similiar situation – let me share my mistake with you. As you approach tullamarine airport there are large domestic arrival, departures, car park, rental car return signs – but only if you are facing the actual airport. There is only one garage close to the airport where you can top up your petrol and as you approach the airport entrance, you must turn to the right to get to the petrol station. Then once you have filled up you come back on that same road and turn right into the drive up to the arrivals, departures and parking – but there are no signs visible as you turn right. So what looks to be rental cars return is in fact the short and long term car park entrance – as I found out.

Definitely not where I wanted to be, but driving into that entrance, I did see the sign for the next lane saying rental car returns. So I quickly did a u-turn, cameras flashed recording my driving the wrong way – who knows when I will get the fine for that error and I quickly zipped back out onto the road and back in to the rental car returns lane. I wondered to myself, how many people get caught with that scenario every day. As I left the rental car with the attendant I suggested that the rental car companies suggest some signage for the people coming from the garage – to avoid what had just happened to me. “Yes, we get complaints all the time. You are you lucky didn’t go through the short term car park and drive around the block, because they would have charged you for that short term visit – even though they know you are a rental car looking for us”. So I guess I should be grateful, that I may only get a fine for driving the wrong way out of the car park entrance!   And I made the flight on time.

4. Speaking of that flight. By the time I grabbed some breakfast, bought the newspapers and waited for the flight, I was tired. So much so that as I boarded the Melbourne/Hobart flight I knew I would probably sleep my way to Hobart.  Thankfully I had a window seat and was no sooner in the seat than I shut my eyes and dropped into a deep sleep. What seemed an hour later I opened my eyes to see the plane taxi-ing along the runway, and I patted myself on the back thinking how smart am I – I have slept the whole Melbourne/Hobart flight and feel totally refreshed.

Not quite, as I looked beyond the runway, I realised we were still in Melbourne and the flight had not even lifted off the tarmac – we were still moving on the ground. Oh dear, tiredness often makes you imagine things that are not as they are.

5. Finally, on Friday night I made my way through the Brisbane Airport carpark, starting at the ground floor, up two flights on the travelator with my trolley to get across the road and into the main carpark building, pay the parking ticket in the quickest credit card muncher I have ever seen, and make my way in the lift back down to the ground floor to my car. Having mislaid my car many times over the year, I am very particular now about making a note of the row where I left the car and I knew that my car was on the ground floor  in row NI – now just in case you ever park in NI – let me tell you that how a car park looks at 5 a.m. Qld when you park the car and 9 pm Qld when you collect the car is very different – even NI looks different – and heads up – NI is in two sections – north and south. And I am now very familiar with both of them.

I believe I have one of the best jobs in the world and love what I do. And I have also learned to reduce my stress, I have to look for the humour in things when they don’t quite go to plan. And for the non road warriors, rather than imagine how glamorous all that travel sounds, the next time you speak to your road warrior mate, ask them about some of the things that don’t quite go to plan.

Happy networking until next time.



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