Business Travel is No Travel At All

My job sends me all over the country. I’ve been to New Orleans more times than I can count, California (Anaheim, LA, and San Francisco), Baltimore, Philadelphia, Manhattan, Atlanta, Orlando, Oklahoma, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Las Vegas, upstate NY, Virginia, and Arizona. I just came back from two days in Washington, DC. And lest you think this is all glamor and business class and room service, here’s what a typical business trip looks like.

I catch the earliest flight that I can from Pittsburgh, which usually means catching the 4 am airport shuttle in the dark. Because Pittsburgh isn’t a hub airport anymore and my employer is cutting costs, I almost always have to transfer at least once, if not twice. To get to DC, I flew through Boston. When I arrived in the afternoon, I took a cab (and my luggage) to my first meeting of the day, which lasted until dinner time. I stumbled two blocks from my hotel, found something affordable to eat, and stumbled back to hit the sack, since by this point, I had been awake for 17 hours.

After 6 hours of sleep, I wake up, throw on a suit and run to the hotel Starbucks for a coffee. Corporate coffee is the devil, I know, but it’s convenient and it’s not even 6:30 am yet. Then I dash off to an all-day event where I am running at top speed from 6:45 am to 7:30 pm. If I’m lucky, like on this trip, I have thirty minutes to grab a sandwich at Subway.

My co-workers planned a dinner reservation at 8:30, but since I can barely hold polite conversation by this point, it’s back to the hotel to seek room service. The hotel does not have room service. I bundle up and slump over to a restaurant a few blocks away and collapse into a chair, praying for speedy service. Before the last course shows up, I’m shoving my credit card at the waitress and begging for mercy and sleep.

A quick phone call to the Lady, responding to twenty or thirty urgent work emails and I’m back in bed. I’m up again at dawn to pack my bags and dash off to the airport in a taxi and head back home.

I have friends who claim to be jealous of all of my travel, and I suppose when you see the locations it does sound fun. But in reality, I very rarely get to see the cities that I visit. Museums close at 5 and my meetings often run much later. If I’m at a convention or training, like next week, I’m in a chain hotel by the airport without a car.

Don’t get me wrong, in this economy I’m grateful to even have a job. And every so often, a meeting will get cancelled and get me a chance to see a little piece of the cities I’m visiting. And if I get to go somewhere warm in the winter, just glimpsing some sunshine as I run around is a blessing. But, more often, I see chain restaurants, chain hotels, and entirely too much of the Applebee’s at the airport.

I think that’s why I’m really looking forward to next month’s trip with my sisters to San Francisco and Napa. A real opportunity to stroll around and see things during the day! (And to get wine buzzed with my sisters…) Then in March, I’m hoping to make a long weekend trip to New Orleans (without meetings!) with the Lady, BC, and the gang.

I’d hate to think that I never got see the cities I’ve been to. So, I suppose I’ll have to make that happen on my own time.

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4 Comments

Filed under Daily Life, Travel, Working for a Living

4 responses to “Business Travel is No Travel At All

  1. I’ve heard similar comments from my friends who travel for work – you never get to see the cities, you only get to see the airports. My uncle, who travelled the world for work, told me he hated all his trips and wanted nothing more but to stay home. It’s probably exciting the first few times but air travel has a way of burning people out very quickly. It’s fast paced and slow moving at the same time. It’s stressful mentally and hard physically.

    I hope you get a chance to go back to all those cities without having to work one day. Hey, that’s what retirement is for!

  2. Kate

    Ooh! I live in San Francisco and work in the wine trade. Shoot me an email if you’d like to meet up for a drink or get any recommendations for your wine country trip!

  3. Ten

    When I used to travel for work and spent from sunup til sundown in a windowless banquet room in some overheated/overcooled hotel at a beautiful location, I used to get so sick of people leaving me voicemail messages saying, “I hope you’re enjoying your vacation.” I WISH! The most I could tell you about some gorgeous places I’ve been is the name of one good restaurant.

  4. I’m with you, sister. I don’t know how many times I’ve told people (envious of the travel) that I fly to an airport, rent a Chevy (or not – maybe take a shuttle), stay at a chain hotel, eat at a chain restaurant, have meetings in an office in a strip mall or tall building in a suburb and fly home. Except for the glimpses of warmish weather in the winter or a palm tree in the parking lot of the hotel, I could be in a suburb of my local largish town.

    And if you do it right, when you’re traveling, you’re working ALL.THE.TIME.

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