Confessions of a Twenty-Something Road Warrior

By Stephanie Milam

The Road Warrior is a unique subset of the full-time professional, who instead of working a standard 9 – 5, clocks a large chunk of their 40+ hours in airports, planes, and hotels. The twenty-something traveling professional is the streamlined version 2.0 of the Road Warrior because of our comfort and ability with technology and general youthful amount of energy. Becoming a Road Warrior initiate, however, still requires some serious adaptation.

The on-the-go skill acquired by the business traveler overlaps incredibly well with the twenty-something generation’s everyday habits. We grew up IM-ing while writing papers for school, texting and emailing while waiting in any type of line, and are well used to looking at content on teeny tiny screens for long periods of time. Looking at content on teeny tiny screens while sitting in teeny tiny airplane seats in an attempt to manage projects at 30,000 feet is where it gets tricky. Which is why it is crucial to find your flying zen.

The twenty-something travelling professional is not likely to be in a position worthy of first-class airplane seats, so we must learn to get comfortable in economy. Economy seats are designed with no regard to your personal space bubble, so having a flying “routine” can help create a level of familiarity and regain a feeling of comfort. For me, it’s reading a book during take-off and landing and ordering ginger ale from the beverage service cart. Because I can’t use any electronic devices at the beginning and end of the flights, I can’t do work, which means this is my small amount of “free” time. I use this time in the same way for each trip I take, and because of this consistency, it has become something I actually look forward to when traveling.

I also look forward to breakfast.

One of the most surreal aspects of business travel is the hours. At 7am, one of the hottest places to be for Road Warriors is the hotel breakfast buffets. For the normal full-time worker, 7am is just the wakeup call. But for the Road Warrior, 7am is primetime for rubbing elbows with the other well-tailored travelers over a bagel, or, if you’re lucky, an omelet.

I’ve been traveling for work for about 5 months now and, as a recent inductee into the Road Warrior culture, I believe it truly takes a twenty-something Road Warrior to know one. There’s a mutual respect for one another that goes unsaid but is nonetheless understood. Because even though we’re good at having our whole world exist through our smartphones, that doesn’t make airplane seats any more comfortable. But in the fluorescent lights of terminal waiting areas, it’s nice to enjoy a sense of camaraderie that can be accessible wherever there are Victorinox carry-ons.

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4 responses to “Confessions of a Twenty-Something Road Warrior

  1. Pingback: Business Travel Tips for a Stress-Free Vacation | On Your Mark Research

  2. Caitlin Milam

    It is significant to note that our work, whether for school, companies, family, etc., is broken by our constant need and desire for technology. Our generation relies so heavily on technology that we relate our smart phones, macbooks, GPS, and MP3 players to our mode of survival. The notion of being able to sit down and write a paper or go through an entire 8 hour work day without using technology seems almost impossible. I ask, however, whether this affects our performance and whether we are capable of focusing on one task anymore. How are institutions coping with this change in how we work and communicate?

  3. Thanks a bunch for your feedback! We’ve started posting more frequently in the past few months and would love to hear more thoughts and ideas on topics – is the twenty-something Road Warrior something you would like to read about regularly? Did any of the other topics interest you or is there something you would like to know more about?

    -Stephanie Milam

  4. I’m not quite a road warrior yet but I do some traveling for work and absolutely love the idea of your blog! Breakfast buffets are definitely the highlight of the day.. especially the hot breakfasts and you do have a certain sense of camaraderie with your fellow business travelers.

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