Who said that just because travel is a big part of life in this industry, it has to be so … painful? Why can't we enjoy our business trips, make the most of our time away, and still stay connected to the ones we love? These were some of the questions posed by road warrior and speaker Cindy Novotny of Master Connection Associates, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., during a session at the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives' International Conference in Monterey, Calif., last month. Not only is Cindy passionate about loving life on the road, but she can also hold her own against the best stand-up comedians out there.

As we ring in 2008, it seems the perfect time to examine life on the road. I'm sure some of Cindy's ideas will inspire you, as they did me:

  • Home is where you plug in your phone at the end of the day. No matter how short your stay, unpack everything, bring some items to make your hotel room cozy, and always check in with the people you love.

  • Look for the humor in travel delays. Cindy was held up for hours at the airport on the way to the SITE meeting and had people in the lounge singing Christmas carols by the time she got on the plane!

  • Check it Out

    Always see the sights when you visit a city, even if it's just a short cab ride. Taking the opportunity to check out a different place will keep your excitement about travel alive.

  • Bring your kids when you can. Traveling offers life lessons richer than any textbook. I took my 11-year-old daughter to the SITE meeting, and she was able to experience a part of the country that she had never seen and to catch a glimpse of my work life that she'll never forget.

  • Stop beating up on yourself by thinking you're an inferior parent if you have to be away from your children. Cindy did an absolutely hilarious schtick about FedEx'ing cookies to her daughter's school from five-star hotels around the world. The fact is, some moms can make the cookies, and some have to buy them — and it really doesn't matter.

  • Find a way to unload the household tasks you dislike so that when you are home, you can relax. You don't necessarily need money for that, as Cindy pointed out: She once bartered with a neighbor to clean her house, and in return she cooked that neighbor a meal each weekend.

  • Every once in a while, try to picture your life without your work. Do you really want that? And if you are unhappy, stop complaining and find another job!

What will always resonate with me from Cindy's talk was that we only have one life, and the time to live it to the utmost is now!

I wish you a truly fulfilling 2008.

Cindy's book, Living Without Balance and Loving It, can be ordered online at www.masterconnection.com