Monday, December 14, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Business Travel

“It must be great to travel for business; you get to see so much.”
“C’mon, how much work do you do when you travel?”
“You must get to so many fascinating places…”
“Can you recommend a place…”

I do not know where the image came from that business travel is so romantic.  I started traveling when I became a consultant in 1995.  During my interview, I was asked about whether or not I wanted to travel.  I thought it would be cool.  Yes, you do some site seeing, if you work over a weekend, or extend your time.  But in general, you travel alone, you eat by yourself most nights and site seeing, while you might see cool things, is to take up the time you are by yourself.  If you travel with people, better.  As I am sitting on a plane on my way to Australia, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on business travel.

  1. You get to tick off places on your bucket list
    Pro:  Yes, I have been to places that I have enjoyed and had a chance to bring my family
    Con:  Going to places on nobody’s list.  I do not know anyone that has Caracas as a destination.  When I was there, all of the houses were surrounded in barbwire and we were told, for safety, do not leave the hotel.
  2. You get to have time away from your family
    Pro:  When you are working until 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00 at night and through the weekend, not having the family means you are focused on the task you were sent to accomplish.
    Con:  I miss my family and sometimes travel can happen at a particularly bad time.  Got a job to do, you do it. 
  3. You get to see the sights and go to the beach
    Pro:  I have squeezed in a few half day trips (that I paid for) to see something, but generally not.  To stay extra time means I am away from my family.
    Con:  I have never traveled for work and gone to the beach.  When I was in Barbados, which has nice beaches, I got to see them on the drive to and from work. 
  4. You get to eat at fancy restaurants
    Pro:  OK, I try to eat well at least one night.
    Con:  Eating in a fancy place and reading a book for company is not too fun.  In addition, the goal is not to get fat while traveling.  Most nights, when working late, you end up grabbing something quick (not good for waistline either)
  5. You get all of those travel points
    Pro:  That was good in the old days when I would lay out the money (con), then get reimbursed
    Con:  My company, as a cost saving, uses points for travel, so no airline miles
  6. You get to stay in hotels
    Pro:  Yes, I have been in some nice hotels.  There was a hotel in Mexico City that had seven restaurants in it.  Some are in good locations for walking in the cities.
    Con:  At the end of the day, you close the door and remember that you are all alone.  
For all of the cons above, I am still a firm believer in traveling.  But it has to be for a specific reason.  There are times when being face-to-face to handle tough situations are important.  Certain points in projects need teams to work together for a prolonged period; doing this remotely is inefficient, untimely and has the potential for misses.  Understanding needs and requirements can sometimes be handled on a phone; however, you cannot read people over a telephone and cannot share certain ideas and concepts.  I was recently asked if I still like to travel.  I found, that as Debbie and I have recently become empty nesters, I have enjoyed getting re-acquainted with my wife and do not like leaving her alone for extended periods.  For whatever reason, the time apart has become different.  I still like and believe in travel, but now, more than ever, I look forward to returning home.

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