The profession of ‘road warrior’ is a tough gig. Long hours driving, time away from family, burnout and loneliness are just a few challenges traveling for work presents.
Other than long-haul truckers, who else drives all day for work? Traveling sales reps are one such demographic.
While there is a sense of freedom associated with hitting the road for work, it can also be exhausting to spend so much time driving from one location and appointment to the next, while negotiating traffic and a variety of road conditions.
Take some of the pressure off by being safe, healthy, and prepared. Here are 5 simple tips for those road warriors who spend 70-80 percent of their time driving for work.
Instead of sitting in an office, you’re sitting in your car. What’s the difference? According to Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, there’s a specific strain on the back that can occur from the unique situation of driving.
“The vibration of the spine pushes on the discs between your vertebrae–the cushions that act as shock absorbers and allow spinal movement–which can cause mechanical damage to the disks,” says Hedge.
Most cars don’t have enough lumbar support, which is why it behooves those in the driver’s seat to spend some time researching the best car seat cushions for long drives. Improving your seat comfort with the right accessories is worth the investment.
Chips and soda may be convenient and temporarily satisfying, but are obviously poor food choices. Bring real food with you, including protein-packed almonds, jerky and fruit. The crappier you eat, the less alert you’ll be on the road. A sugar crash could lead to a real crash!
Also, you’ll be less tempted to buy unhealthy items at the gas station if you pack your own healthy snacks and drinks in advance. Bring a cooler with you and stock it with things like yogurt, string cheese, deli meats, apples, water and tea. Just make sure to have it handy during the drive.
Stop & Stretch
Ok, so maybe you won’t literally crash from a sugar spike. But sitting all day can be detrimental to your health. One of the most important things you can do for your body is to get out of the car every two or three hours, walk around, do a few down dogs – anything to keep the blood circulating and relieve tension.
A few stretching exercises will help you feel less tired by the time you get to your destination. Maybe you even need a quick 20-minute nap to help you feel rejuvenated. Climb in the back with your pillow during your next pit stop.
The advice of periodically pulling over at rest stops to stretch the legs and freshen up is not just fluff. There’s a serious side to it.
Hidden Health Danger
Sitting in the same spot for hours on extended road trips is considered a silent danger to your health. Blood clots can and do occur more often than most would believe. The risk of developing a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) blood clot, which develops in a large vein (usually the leg), increases during extended travel time.
The real danger from a DVT is the potential for it to travel to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism, which are fatal in one-third of cases.
Stick to Routine
Traveling for work can be disruptive to your normal schedule and home life. If possible try to keep a similar routine on the road that you would at home, including your waking and eating schedule, exercise routine, and break times. It will help keep you focused throughout the day.
If you ask yourself what’s important in life, what is on your list? Maybe it’s earning a big paycheck, spending time with your spouse, kids and good friends, going on fun adventures or leaving behind a legacy to be proud of.
Creating a good work-life balance is tough for everyone to do, especially for those brave road warriors. Whatever your personal priorities are, be sure to take good care of your needs both physically and mentally.