Book Sales Trips: The Art of the (Healthy) Meal

17 Feb

This last week I was on the road for three days—and two nights—visiting East Texas colleges in Athens, Kaufman, Jacksonville, and Tyler to drop off catalogs plus comp/desk copies of different books we’ve published. This trip—plus going to Hill College in Hillsboro and Navarro College in Corsicana week before last—are all part of the effort to visit as many two-year colleges in Texas as possible this spring. After all, most discussions among faculty in their departments for fall book adoptions occur over the next couple of months so now is the time to get out there to show off your products.

There are a lot of factors that go into having a successful sales trip: printing out maps and school directories, checking to make sure you have all your supplies, and keeping track of all necessary paperwork as you go for record keeping and travel reimbursement. In addition, though, one of the really important things I always keep in mind is to eat as healthily as possible. So, for me, there are three different aspects to that correspond with the three basic meals for the day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Breakfast

Because I’m a state employee, I make sure to stay at state-approved hotels. Basically, this means that they fall within a certain price range. You can, however, also compare the list of amenities for all the approved hotels in a given area to see which particular ones each place has. (All the possibilities are here.) There are three basic options for breakfast to keep an eye out for: complimentary continental breakfast, complimentary full breakfast, and complimentary breakfast buffet. I always try to find a place with the breakfast buffet because that’s your best bet for having a breakfast with eggs and sausage/bacon. That is, protein. Everything else is usually variations of carbohydrates and sugar: waffles, donuts, pastries, biscuits, cereal and the like. If I get a good ration of protein for breakfast, I’m usually good to go until lunch. Otherwise, if all I have are some donuts, I’ll be having a drastic sinking spell by the middle of the morning.

Lunch

By the time lunch rolls around, I’m usually out driving from one campus to another in different towns. The key here is to eat something that is filling yet healthy but doesn’t leave you with the urge/need for a long nap. To that end, I usually look for a Subway. (I even keep notes of all the towns I go to so that I can note where the nearest Subway is.) Thankfully, a foot-long vegetarian with a small sack of baked chips and a diet drink will leave me feeling full while, at the same time, not break the bank in terms of calories.

Dinner

Finally, at night I’m usually back in my hotel room so I’ll cook something in the microwave. When I get into a town where I’m going to be staying for a day or two, I’ll keep an eye out for a grocery store so that after I check in I can go back and load up on supplies: 100-calorie bags of microwave popcorn, Lean Cuisine or Weight Watchers TV dinners, and diet drinks. Once again, having this in your room will 1) save money instead of eating out every meal and 2) let you eat relatively healthy meals.

In the end, for me, the biggest mental leap I’ve had to make is the realization that when it comes to food (and eating) being on the road for sales trips is not at all like being on vacation. Sure, there are many superficial similarities: you’re driving/flying someplace new, staying in hotels, and are out the the flow of your regular life/work routine. But, when I’m on vacation I like to throw caution to the wind when it comes to eating—hey! that’s why it’s called vacation!—but if I did that on every business trip I was one it would cost me an arm and a leg as well as having me pack on the pounds from endless rounds of chicken fried steaks, waffle fries, gravy, and biscuits. (You know, the kind of food that’s good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)

Mark

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