What Business Travel Says About Me

I used to do business travel at lot more than I do now.  I don’t think that there was ever a point that I can say I enjoyed it.

I used to do two or three weeks of travel to the US followed by two weeks at home for about 10 months.  After that phase of work passed, I was going backwards and forwards to mainland Europe every week.

A few of my friends thought that this sounded amazing.  However, it was always interesting to see their expressions when you told them what was actually involved.

The thing about business travel, for me, is not necessarily what it takes from your evenings while you’re away.  You can zone in to the fact that you’re going to be away, often on your own and often somewhere (in my case) distinctly uninteresting that is a nightmare to get to somewhere decent from outside of office hours.

It robs you of far more interesting times.  To sum up a working week of typical business travel for me.  In this example, let’s use a single stand alone week.

A few week’s in advance I have to book my travel.  I have to find my flights and my hotels and I have to make sure I get them as cheap as I can because if I can’t hit a budget, I have to pay for it.  (Yes, I know that says more about the place I work for than it does for travel, but stay with me).

The weekend before I go I’m getting clothes washed and dried to an enforced timeline, getting foreign money as well as my normal one to pay for taxis.  I get nervous about planning anything fun for Sunday in case I’ve forgotten something.

I have to get stupidly early flights to get the most out of my day, so I’ll be getting up at 3am to get to the airport.  I finish my commute and if I’m in Europe this will normally mean that I’m getting to the office at around lunchtime.  The first afternoon is spent getting through everything in half a day that you would do in one which means I’m usually in the office late.

First night I’m usually shattered so I end up eating and crashing.  Next day is like a normal work day, but then I finish it and realise that I’m going to be spending the night on my own or with the people that I’ve spent all day working with.  If I’m lucky, there will be a bar nearby that offers more than just drinking because otherwise conversation will turn to work again.

Repeat that for however many days I’m away because my work locations are usually nowhere near anywhere offering anything amusing or touristy to do, especially in an evening.

I get home tired and fed up and realise that I have no food in the house because it won’t have lasted from the time I bought it so I have to go to the supermarket.

And repeat.

There are many things that business travel removes how you live.  You can’t control your diet or how you spend your time and I always used to find myself simply living from trip to trip – it was hard to use the time in between for anything other than preparation.

Standard room service fare when you’re on a zero based budget.

It is the far from sexy thing that most people would believe in my experience.

I realise when typing that that many of the things I have to do are the same as when I’m going on holiday.  The difference with work is that I don’t want to have to do it.  It’s an inconvenience.

That got me thinking about what I enjoyed about travelling with work.  I enjoyed going to watch baseball, playing pool in the bar, eating the weekly stupid breakfast I so enjoy at new places.  I realised that this reflects my view of travel in general.

I seem to be interested more in what I can do than what I can see.  Yes, yes – I realise that seeing is technically doing something, but you know what I mean.  Very few sights take my breath away, maybe because it’s now so easy to see them online that I know what to expect.  Where there are things that I want to see, I always picture seeing them with someone under a circumstance and none of those circumstances are on my own with my laptop bag.  Yes, I’m romantic.

The biggest thing, though, is what I said before.  It kind of feels oxymoronic to say that travelling to new places feels constraining, but I do feel like business travel robs me of a level of freedom, and I don’t like it.  With all respect to my colleagues, most of whom I would class as friends, but I would rather be other places, doing other things.

On a long and lonesome highway
East of Omaha
You can listen to the engine
Moanin’ out his one note song
You can think about the woman
Or the girl you knew the night before
But your thoughts will soon be wandering
The way they always do
When you’re ridin’ sixteen hours
And there’s nothin’ much to do
And you don’t feel much like ridin’,
You just wish the trip was through

Here I am
On the road again
There I am
Up on the stage
Here I go
Playin’ star again
There I go
Turn the page

Well you walk into a restaurant,
Strung out from the road
And you feel the eyes upon you
As you’re shakin’ off the cold
You pretend it doesn’t bother you
But you just want to explode

Most times you can’t hear ’em talk,
Other times you can
All the same old cliches,
“Is that a woman or a man?”
And you always seem outnumbered,
You don’t dare make a stand

Here I am
On the road again
There I am
Up on the stage
Here I go
Playin’ star again
There I go
Turn the page

Out there in the spotlight
You’re a million miles away
Every ounce of energy
You try to give away
As the sweat pours out your body
Like the music that you play

Later in the evening
As you lie awake in bed
With the echoes from the amplifiers
Ringin’ in your head
You smoke the day’s last cigarette,
Rememberin’ what she said

Here I am
On the road again
There I am
Up on the stage
Here I go
Playin’ star again
There I go
Turn the page
Here I am
On the road again
There I am
Up on the stage
Here I go
Playin’ star again
There I go
Turn the page
There I go

Turn The Page by Bob Seger

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