Thursday, September 17, 2009

Business Travel

Where oh where can my baby be?
Her job took her away from me...

"Are you traveling for business or pleasure?" Isn't it interesting that this is an either/or type of question? To take it one step further, isn't it almost unthinkable to consider answering, "Both. Business travel is pleasure."

Of course there's much to like about traveling on the company dime. Per diem, generally nice hotels, frequent flier miles, and free trips to new places. Yes, there was even a time when I actively positioned myself to go on as many trips as I possibly could. In fact, I've enjoyed Maui, Paris, and THE Oktoberfest in Munich, all for free... So what could I possibly be complaining about, right?

Aside from wreaking havoc on our blog-posting schedule - after all, what can we say when one of the "two" is not in DC? - business travel has become more of a duty than a vacation. Maybe it has to do with increased responsibility at work or having more of a settled home life. Or maybe I'm getting old and can't as easily change timezones as often as I change my socks. Or maybe I just don't like living out of a suitcase and eating alone. The point is, I like my job and I love vacation, but I'd prefer to take them separately.

But aside from my mini-rant, here's a few helpful hints I've picked up along the way:

Bose Nose Canceling Headphones. You know those giant headphones that everyone in first class seems to have on flights now? What else have you noticed? How about contented, peaceful grins on the faces of everyone wearing them. Sure they cost a pretty penny (~$300) but if you spend a lot of time on the plane, having a little serenity amidst the security lines and crying babies is worth it. The only downside, other than the cost, is the fact that it makes sleeping difficult if you like leaning your head on something.

Earn Those Rewards. You probably already put in to receive frequent flier miles but don't forget to sign up to receive points at the hotel. Also, if you have to pay up front and will be reimbursed later for your travel expenses, sign up for credit cards that will give you points or cash back... because the only thing better than vacation, is a vacation with free airfare, a free hotel, and a little cash you earned while traveling for work.

I've Got Friends in Far Off Places. I'm not a huge fan of traveling on my own - and by traveling, I mean exploring new places - because I like to share my experiences with other people. Combine that with a laundry list of good friends scattered around the world, and you'll usually find that I try and squeeze some friend-time into my work trips.

Catch up on your reading
. I read a lot for my job so when I'm home, I tend to not have the desire, much less the time, to work my way through a good book. And are you really expecting me to work on the plane and at night in my hotel room?

Catching Up with Life. As a couple that actually enjoys one another, business travel for one of us affects both of us. Nevertheless, a little alone time is always needed. Whether that is day-to-day household chores that we never have a chance to do, working a little later on a overdue project, or just catching up on that "bad TV" that our better halves can't stand...

Isn't it Romantic. Thanks to 9/11, the ever-romantic and over-played scene of a reunion at an airport gate now must take place at the baggage claim. Still, there's nothing like a little distance to remind you of what you left at home. People always talk about keeping a relationship "fresh." Here's a great opportunity to find that spark...

J Says

I've traveled a lot for work this year and have a couple of tips to add to B's list:

Pack and Snack Healthy. Let's face it, if you're eating in an airport or at the hotel, chances are you're going to blow a weeks worth of calories on one meal. I get really hungry when I travel so I try to plan ahead by packing healthy snacks such as dried fruit, unsalted nuts, kashi bars, and packs of Emergen-C. I travel to New Orleans often and these healthy snacks in my purse have saved me many times when all that's available to eat when I arrive at midnight is a fried shrimp po boy.

Bring Your Street Smarts. As a female, it's not always easy to travel alone. Be smart about walking in unfamiliar neighborhoods alone and only use cab companies that are recommended by the hotel or are part of an approved airport taxi line. It's also a good idea to get the cab number. This can save you if you leave something in the cab and can be used for reporting purposes if something goes wrong. Most importantly, listen to your instincts. If you don't feel comfortable going out of your hotel alone to get dinner, try room service or talk to the hotel concierge about delivery options.

Always Pack an Extra Pair of Shoes. If you're like me and wear heels for business, it's a good idea to throw an extra pair in your bag just in case. Heels break, straps come loose, and blisters pop up and you don't want to be stuck limping into the courtroom or boardroom in a busted pair of shoes. It's probably a good idea to pack at least one sensible pair of shoes just in case. Remind me some day to tell you about the time I wobbled through a gravel railroad yard in a pair of Kate Spade heels while interviewing witnesses for a trial....

Safe travels!

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