Introduction: Welcome to the Pitfalls of Frequent Travel
I (Steve) began hitting the road–or air–when I was still in my twenties.
Since then, I have logged more than five million miles, about four million of them on American Airlines. Travel has become a regular part of my life, and virtually every week I find myself on an airplane bound for a new destination.
Early on, I learned that a trip could become an easy escape if I let it. Though the weight of marital problems might sap my energy at home, I could instantly be reenergized as I carried my suitcase out the door (this was before rollers became standard equipment).
But with the world as my playground, temptations lay everywhere. I felt the allure of the road and learned of the disconnection and compartmentalization that can so easily creep into relationships. The road is seductive. It offers a romance all its own, and it’s easy to allow it to take hold of you.
How does this dangerous road romance begin?
It’s really quite easy. Let’s say you’re traveling somewhere for business with important and powerful clients. Not only is your identity back home a mystery, but you become a special guest in their eyes. You’re the one they go out of their way to make feel welcome. Anonymity and inflated significance– that’s a dangerous combination.
Or perhaps you’re a long-haul trucker with a load to pull and a check to earn. You’ve spent all day out on the highway, busting your chops. You’re tired; you’re hungry. But the moment you set foot in a motel or truck stop, you’re waited on hand and foot. Inside those walls is a sanctuary–it’s all about you.
You never have to clean up after yourself, wash dirty dishes, discipline your kids, or share the remote. You’re the paying customer, and in that kingly environment, you’re always right.
In both cases, you learn to develop an attraction for a world quite different from the world you regularly encounter at home. This new world makes you feel consistently important, respected, significant, in control–all the things men (especially) long for. That feeling is highly attractive. The more you feel it, the more you want it.
That’s the allure of road romance.
But this new romance is not all it’s cracked up to be. Over time, the superficial ways in which you are treated satisfy less and less. You begin to realize a new, gnawing sensation. It may be hard to pinpoint at first, but soon you learn its name.Loneliness.
It feels painful at first; you wish you were around people who knew you. But over time, in a twisted sort of way, that loneliness can actually begin to feel appealing. As strange as it sounds, left unchecked and unmanaged, loneliness can actually become a romantic pursuit of its own. It becomes something you look forward to, something you learn to not only cope with, but prefer. It is how you live, what you do, who you are, and where you spend the majority of your time.
You’re alone and disconnected–and you like it.
I (Sam) was seduced by that strange romance. It nearly destroyed my relationship with my wife and pushed me to the edge of personal disaster for years. What prevented me from going completely over the falls was a very painful wake-up call (which I will share in the pages ahead) that finally jolted me to my senses. How ironic that my deepest personal failure came at the height of my professional success.
I know I am not alone.
If you travel frequently, or your loved one does, you understand what I’m talking about. We are often perceived as successful, hard-working, and in control of our lives. But we are constantly battling the same problem.
Some of us haven’t even stopped long enough to assess the situation, to see that our constant career travel is taking a toll on our lives and on the lives of those we care the most about. It’s a horrible trade-off: every career success brings another personal failure.
In the end, what we end up pursuing is that which we have come to hate: loneliness.
And every mile logged on the road helps dig that pit of despair just a little bit deeper.
Our goal in writing this book is simple: when you travel frequently, you come face to face with forces that can destroy you. We want to prevent that. We’ve titled this book Road Warrior
because that’s what frequent travelers must become–combatants of destruction, protectors of integrity, guardians of the personal relationships that matter most.
In the next few chapters, we’ll address the effects that loneliness can have on a traveler’s personal life and relationships. We’ll take a look at some of the substitutes we pursue and addictions we find. You’ll hear stories from our lives and from the lives of others we know. We’ll show you proven strategies to overcome the obstacles that every road warrior faces, and we’ll give you the tools to fully protect your personal life and relationships as you travel.
At the end of each chapter, you’ll notice a series of questions for reflection. We hope you take advantage of these. They are there to help you sort out the information you read, evaluate your personal situation, and take action to create a battle plan.
No matter how many years you have spent on the road, our hope is that this book stirs you to take action, to invest “face time” in your personal relationships– your spouse, family, and friends. Whether you are single or married, fly in private jets or drive an eighteen-wheeler, you can
develop balance and fulfillment as you move forward with the rest of your working career.