Business Travel

Business Travel

I’m on now what is likely my 3rd business trip ever. I don’t travel much, for work or otherwise.

I’ve been reporting for element14 at the ESC Silicon Valley 2011 conference. It’s been really fun, getting to make videos and posting to their “Do It Together” blog; but outweighing the fun has been the weariness I’ve felt, the same weariness I’ve felt at other conferences and other times I’m traveling. And that’s the inspiration for this post.

First off, I think I should mention what I always try to do. I always try to go on Yelp when I travel and try out some of the highly rated local restaurants and bars. I don’t travel much outside of work (I’m a cheapskate), so when I do, I like to try to get to places I wouldn’t experience otherwise. But I’ve found on this trip that I haven’t cared as much. I know this is exactly what regular travelers feel as well on a regular basis. It’s no longer about getting out and trying the flavor, it’s about getting fuel to operate the following day. While I don’t hope to operate like this forever, I have started to understand it more.

Another thing that is a particular problem at conferences is the late night schedule. Mostly that I should be eschewing burning the midnight oil and instead get some solid rest. Often it occurs that I go and stay out late on the first night of a trip and then it ruins the rest of my experience because I have a hard time keeping my eyes open. And while I know I shouldn’t stay up, I think I had a good excuse this time. I had a chance to go tour the Evil Mad Scientist Lab (one of our judges for the 555 contest) when I was out this way. How could I resist that? I got to see their new shop bot (which was awesome!) and hang out with Windell and Lenore (even awesomer than the shop bot).

There’s a lot more to talk about with regards to business travel, but I’m once again travelling…this time taking a flight home. How have your travel experiences been? Are you able to keep a level head while traveling and still see the local sites and sounds? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

8 comments

Separate business and pleasure, but don’t forget pleasure during business.

I travel for work several times a year, mostly within Japan, but occasionally to Europe and elsewhere. Business travel works best when you focus on business. Don’t try to shoehorn any sightseeing or other planned activities into your schedule. They’ll just stress you out, reduce your rest time and become another headache when your work-related schedule inevitably changes. Save the holiday making for your holidays.

On the other hand, do take chance opportunities to see the local place. Walking is great. Take a walk around the neighbourhood when you’ve checked in, and walk to and from the conference venue – or at least walk part of the way – rather than taxi. It reduces travel stress, helps you with jetlag and gives you a bit of much needed exercise when you live on cheap restaurant fare morning, lunch and dinner.

At lunch time, suggest going to a local place (that you may have spotted on your morning walk) rather than the conference center food court. Nothing big, nothing planned, and nothing you can’t cancel at a moments notice. Skip the bars, the clubs and the hotel-room beer during business travel, unless it’s part of doing business. Sleepiness and hangovers just makes your job performance worse the next day. Keep it for the holiday trips.

I used to travel all the time in a previous job. It was exciting at first and then extremely draining after a while. The excitement wore off and it was the same thing over and over, airports, hotels, taxis, getting used to a time shift, repeat. It could get very lonely, especially if traveling to a place where I didn’t understand the local language. I think you need a certain personality (and a significant other with one) to be able to consistently work on the road. It can be especially tolling on relationships. I agree with Janne’s system. I’d mostly concentrate on work and if I ended up with some free time off I’d just wing it and enjoy myself.

I love traveling, and 2011 has been a really busy year (with six round-trip plane flights so far, and more scheduled). I’ve found that a week is about my limit. I can keep a level head, enjoy the food and local culture, and generally keep up for about that long. After a week, I’m tired, I miss my own bed and creature comforts, and I get irritated much easier.

After a week, that’s about as much eating out as I can do. I love hotels that have hot breakfasts (I’m a yogurt-granola girl at home), but after a week of heavy food for breakfast, I just feel sluggish and it’s no longer a treat. I think that’s why regular travelers order salad even at fancy restaurants – you can only eat so many big meals, until you just don’t want it any more (not to mention you would gain weight).

As to the schedule, that depends on the trip. On my last trip, the days were nonstop from 9am-2am. That gets old fast. I can usually only do three days if that’s the case… I’m not as young and resilient as I used to be. 🙂

In my younger days when travelling abrouad I would try to go a day or two early and return a day or two late. This had two benefits: (1) I got to see a bit of the place whilst I was there and (2) the flights were often a lot cheaper so the company was very happy to pay my hotel bill for the ext4ra time.

As I have got older I find the whole idea of long distance travelling for marginal benefit less appealing. I’d rather stay at home and work in the garden 🙂

I enjoy travelling. Even if I’ve been there before, there’s always something new to discover. I agree just walking around is a good idea and sometimes quite surprising. When I went to Milan to visit ST Microelectronics, I didn’t do a lot online research on what to do in Milan. I took a taxi to the city centre and just started to walk around. To my surprise, I ran across a church that had a sign saying the viewing of the Last Supper is by appointment only. I didn’t even know the Last Supper was in Milan, let alone in this unremarkable looking church.

If I was ever in one place more than a few hours, I’d check out bike rental places. In some situations I’d go so far as to skip the rental car, and just use a bike for transport. Such can work well for trade shows and the like… albeit not so well for sales meetings.

Weariness is a function of routine. Back when I was on the road 100 nights a year, being home for extended periods was a lot more wearisome than traveling. The key to travel is the development of autopilot systems for non-critical thinking matters, such that one has a greater reserve than normal for the unexpected, and to ensure that trivial things really do remain trivial.

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