Monthly Archives: December 2013

Four Of The Worst Things About Business Travel

For the second day in a row, I was up at 4 am.  Was it a noise outside, a cold child, or, (perish the thought!) my alarm clock?  Nope, it was just my friend, Mr. Jet Lag (not to be confused with Mr. Jet Li).  I spent 10 days traveling and once back in my ‘home’ time zone, my internal clock was adjusting…just a little too slowly for me.

I’m truly thankful for every opportunity to see the world and the other benefits of business travel but, in the aftermath of my most recent trip, let’s look at a few numbers:

November 6-16 – 11 days/10 nights
19,767  miles flown
7 different beds (including 2 seats in coach)
5 different hotels
3 countries (US, France, and India)
1 week aftermath of jet lag

It makes me tired just to think about it…almost a month after the trip!  So, with that in mind, let me list my four worst things about business travel.

I am not known for my adventurous eating.  In fact, it took me a couple of years of visiting France to expand my repertoire to include ‘classic’ French food (foie gras, weird smelling cheese – yes, please, but escargot, most things including fish – non, merci).  Therefore, adding Thailand, China, and India to my countries visited list induced gastrointestinal consternation upon my arrival. I keep it simple…chicken and rice, folks, chicken and rice.

A salty rice crispy treat with peppers and cashews

One dish from a lunch with Chinese colleagues: a salty rice crispy treat with peppers and cashews – just a taste, please

After waking up to find a bedbug crawling on me at a hotel in the 7th arrondissement of Paris in 2006 (ewwwwww!), hotels are not my friend.  I usually check the mattress before doing anything else and keep my clothes in the suitcase if at all possible.

I can soldier on through about a week of jet lag using the “Dave Dewease rule” of business travel.  Dave, a former colleague, espoused the benefits of walking around the town you were in (often Paris for us) until about 11 pm, going to sleep at midnight, and getting up at 6 am.  This works quite well for about a week (especially when you throw in a 2 or 3 mile run first thing in the morning).  However, all great tactics aside, after about a week of travel, I just want to collapse!  The return home can also be a challenge.  Being ready for bed at 6 pm for a week does not engender family togetherness.

Airplanes are simultaneously great and awful.  Although I love the silence at 30,000 feet, it’s a 50/50 proposition on whether I get a decent night’s sleep or not.  Food is hit or miss as well.  The indian curry veggie wrap that KLM recently served me was pretty bad stuff but the ice cream that Air France serves in the middle of the flight is good stuff.  I always have a Lara Bar or two,  just in case.

So, what “bugs” you the most about travel?

Four Of The Best Things About Business Travel

Next up, a couple of posts for those of you who think ‘Wow, a chance to see the world for free…sleeping in nice hotels, eating in restaurants every night…business travel must be great!’  It certainly can be but, from where I sit (or sat (recently in seat 41A in the next to last row of coach for 10 hours)), business travel has its share of issues too. Today, let’s talk about the good stuff.

To begin with, yes, I have gotten the chance to go some cool places for work.  The list includes France, the UK, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, India, Thailand, China…I kind of feel like that song I’ve Been Everywhere (although I most certainly haven’t!).

Storefronts in India

During my most recent trip to France and India, I definitely had the benefits of:

Appreciating Home
Ahhh, the joys of brushing your teeth with tap water, cold milk from the fridge, lots of hugs, and having a conversation with your wife longer than 5 minutes.  Nice.

Unique Experiences
I saw Indians playing cricket in a dusty field at dawn, enjoyed fall on a 6 mile run in our ‘French hometown’ on a Saturday, and feared for my life as our taxi navigated around cows at 40 mph.  All memorable things I would have missed in good old Greenville, SC.

Developing Relationships with Colleagues
I got to wander the Chennai airport while looking for the Indian equivalent of milk and cookies (so so) and have an impromptu business meeting in the Bangalore airport ‘executive lounge’ (success!). It was a good opportunity to work with people outside the ‘standard’ work environment.

Time to Myself
Yes, the holy grail of all parents can be found at 30,000 feet. I read, watched movies, and napped at will. I have even had time to write for a couple of hours (which I usually do around 5:30 am). It was admittedly a nice break.

And you, what do you think are (or would be) the benefits of traveling for business?