Life Out of a Suitcase

Note: All WP Saskatchewan Transcripts are edited for flow and readability.

(Narrator) Saskatchewan. A place where many employers ask their workers to travel for business

(Marissa) “Yeah, I’m Marissa Glofcheskie. I work for Trace Associates as an environmental scientist.”

(Matt) “My name’s Matt Boey. I work with Trace Associates as an environmental scientist.”

(Narration) So what are the challenges of this lifestyle or the benefits? Can working out of hotels, vehicles, and small town diners really facilitate a healthy lifestyle? Working on the road can be a thrill, however, to just roll with it may not be the healthiest way to go about things.(Marissa) “I think everything has its benefits and drawbacks, but for me, some of my favourite things about being on the road are just that change of scenery. Office life can get a little bit dull.”

(Matt) “I’m not terribly productive when I’m sitting down all day in front of the computer. So getting out of the office is obviously nice, and just being able to travel across Saskatchewan is pretty cool because there’s a lot of places in Saskatchewan that you really don’t get to visit otherwise, or have no reason to. I guess just how beautiful Saskatchewan really is. A lot of the times when you’re driving around Regina-Saskatoon area, you’re really just coming across tamed farmland and such. But there’s a lot of really interesting parts of Saskatchewan that few people get to experience, so I feel pretty fortunate.”

(Marissa) “There is nothing I like more than packing my bags and throwing on my favorite podcasts and just hitting the road for a couple of days.”

(Matt) “That’s the reality of this type of work. Trace Associates does work for clients all across Saskatchewan. Traveling is just the nature of the beast. Even if it’s a small job, sometimes we’re still driving 5 to 6 hours just to get out to that spot. Now that being said, we do have fatigue management strategies to prevent any sort of major fatigue. And obviously driving; we’re doing lots of driving. You don’t want to be super fatigued.”

(Marissa) “We are being proactive and thinking about how we’re going to minimize fatigue and maximize our chances of getting home safe. We need to check in just to let our supervisors know that there’s a plan in place. I think it’s important to even just take a step back, take that 5 minutes and think about that for yourself. Even if you’re sending it off to somebody else, you’ve still had to think about what are you going to do to make sure that you can get home safe and not fall asleep behind the wheel or something like that.”

(Matt) “First of all, we set limits for the amount of hours that workers can work in a day, and in a week. If we are to exceed those, we need to develop a fatigue management plan that is then approved by our supervisor that we give to them ahead of time, essentially outlining, ‘Here’s why I need to work this long. What am I going to do to prevent fatigue and to make sure that I can get back to where I need safely at the end of the day?’”

(Marissa) “That is always nice to know that your safety protocols are working, so at least you haven’t been forgotten and if you’re not back in service in that four hour increment, somebody is looking out for you. It’s just nice to know that people are still thinking of you and still care what you’re up to. Otherwise, it can be a little bit of a lonely existence.”

(Matt) “Lots of times I’m working by myself. I’m on the road alone.”

(Marissa) “That’s definitely a challenge, always. But for me, I think my family and friends kind of come to expect that I might call them at all hours of the day from the road.”

(Matt) “Anybody’s going to get home sick after a while. So if you can develop some sort of routines, I found that it really helps you with field work in general. It helps the time pass by faster and it’s a lot easier to live a healthier lifestyle if you can develop some healthy routines as well.”

(Marissa) “Well, in my first couple of years, I definitely didn’t have those routines and it definitely catches up to you pretty quick. And so for me, keeping that sense of routine when I’m on the road for six months of the year, it really helps me to come home and feel like my health hasn’t suffered. I can still hit the gym or get a good night’s sleep. It’s not all about the wings and the beers, but you definitely have to make time for that, too.”

(Matt) “Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you’ve got to try and have some fun when you’re on the road as well, right?”

(Marissa) “I think there’s some days, you know, if you’ve got a really tough day with the weather or you just had a rough day, there’s nothing you want to do more than sit with your coworkers and have a beer or just honestly be in your hotel room and watch a hockey game. And I think that’s definitely fine. It’s all about that balance, right?”

(Matt) “The end of my day usually looks like going to my hotel, checking in. That’s part of sort of my routine and that kind of initiates the, ‘Okay, it’s finally end of day, I can start to relax.’ If I packed food, I’m going to eat that. If not, I’m going to go to the cool, local restaurant. I really enjoy checking out restaurants when I’m on the road. That’s probably one of my favorite parts of traveling. Just seeing the little hidden gems in small town Saskatchewan. I’d highly recommend the Harvest Eatery in Shaunavon. It’s probably one of the best restaurants that I’ve visited. Everything is local, fresh and it’s just highly rated. You can check it out. I highly recommend it.”

(Marissa) “I don’t have a lot of favorite restaurants, but a lot of really good little bakeries. The best little bakery I ever found was in a town that I don’t even remember, just a tiny town. And it was this little old Ukrainian woman that made the best pastries that you could ever get. That to me was a really good little unexpected gem. I’ve been spending a lot of time in southwest Saskatchewan, and I’ve gotten to know the hotel folks so well that they know my schedule in the morning. They’re supposed to start breakfast at 7 a.m., but now they know that I’m out the door around 6, and they’ll put breakfast on earlier just for me, which is really nice and gives you a bit more of that sense of home when you’re away.”

(Matt) “Well, my coworker, Marissa, she quickly made me realize it is possible to stay healthy on the road. It is possible to keep your sanity, so to speak. She’s basically never tired or depressed or anything like that on the road. She’s always happy. She’s always checking out things locally and she’s always staying super positive. Kind of used her as a role model for this type of work.”

(Marissa) “Once you get on the road and you’ve got everything with you that you need, you’ll be really happy that you took the extra 5 minutes to make your stay a little bit more comfortable. Try to make that home away from home. Try to bring your comforts with you when you can.”

(Narrator) Saskatchewan is a big, beautiful place where remote or field work is not going away anytime soon. Now we want to hear from you. What challenges exist in your industry and how do you maintain wellness on the road? Contact us now to tell your story.

This WP Saskatchewan story was filmed at the office of Trace Associates & around the Rural Municipality of Sherwood, SK. featuring Environmental Scientists Marissa Glofcheskie and Matt Boey.

WP (Work & Play) Saskatchewan is a fund-raising production of the registered non-profit charitable Saskatchewan Safety Council (Charitable Registration Number: 11914-0382-RR). It serves the strategic priorities of the organization by creating community connections and provides a new platform upon which injury prevention messaging can be communicated.