Life on the Road as a Geospatial Field Technician

By Isaac Chantos, Geospatial Field Technician and Team Leader

Firmatek Geospatial Field Technicians live a life different from most Americans. Saying we travel a lot is an understatement. We spend a lot of time on the road roaming the nation with a laser scanner and drone. We visit different cities, listen to a lot of podcasts, and often live out of suitcases at different hotels. As of this writing, I have spent 147 nights in a hotel this year, with about ninety nine percent of those nights in a new room each night. Waking up in a different town each morning is a lifestyle that presents its own sets of challenges and rewards. From one road warrior to another, here are three of my best tips and tricks for making life on the road easier.

Stay Organized

Organization is crucial to prevent leaving things scattered in 14 different states. I learned this lesson the hard way when I went to plug my computer in at the hotel in San Jose, California and realized my charger was in the hotel in Victorville, California. It does not take too many of those mistakes before you realize how important organization is. In the spirit of tidiness, all my personal items go in the exact same spot in each hotel room each time. Organization equals success. Creating little habits for the small things carries over into the big things and the organization and routine is what carries a field tech through the tough days. Just like hydrating before a big race, good jobs start with proper prep-work the night before. From charging drone batteries to printing out historical maps and spreadsheets, what I do the night before sets me up for success the next day.

Take Care of Your Health

Nutrition is of course a major key to keeping your body moving from one job to the next. Anyone who travels a lot knows that nutrition can be the hardest to accomplish when living a life on the road. To take care of myself, I take a solid multivitamin to ensure I’m getting minimal requirements of vitamins and nutrients. Sometimes on the road, I have to grab something quick to eat and it is often lacking any aspect of nutrition . When in doubt, Cracker Barrel has some mighty fine broccoli to help get the greens in.

Fitness in this lifestyle can also be challenging. While I don’t have a gym membership because I’m never in the same city for an extended period of time, every hotel has a gym and most of the time they are deserted. So, it is like having a private gym. With the variety of hotel gyms, I like to try new things and think of my daily workout a bit  as an interesting mental challenge to devise new ways of working up a daily sweat.

I have also learned the hard way to always travel with plenty of medication to cover any allergies, headaches, or food poisoning that may occur in the course of travel.  It is absolutely critical to take care of yourself because feeling crappy on the road is no good for anyone. Our clients rely on us to get the job flown on time and stick to their schedule. Taking care of my health is important to ensure I can better serve our clients and meet their expectations.

Find the Perks of Road Life

Life on the road has its challenges, but it can be rewarding. Literally. Points are your new passion. Most hotels offer rewards for consecutive night stays. Great news, in this job consecutive stays are all we do. Do your research and find a point program that you like and stick with it. Consistency is key in building points, jumping from hotel chain to hotel chain only results in a small smattering of useless points.

Once you have picked your chain, joined their rewards program, and linked it through your company travel account, stay up to date on special promotions. Most major hotel companies tend to run quarterly promotions giving you the opportunity to double or even triple your points per stay. As you accumulate more and more points, don’t be surprised if it becomes your new on-the-road hobby and you start gaining points for rental cars, airline miles, and even Chick-Fil-A. Deciding how to spend your points is a completely different matter.

Points are the easiest way to gain a tangible benefit from life on the road. However, points do not bring you happiness. I can not tell you for sure what brings everlasting happiness, but a routine does not hurt.

The most important thing that I have personally done to improve my quality of life on the road is establishing a set routine. This is something that can vary from individual to individual, but for me I try to include things like organization, nutrition, fitness, and focusing on the positive. Hopefully some of these tips prove useful if you ever find yourself in a in a different town and a different hotel every night.