Business Travel Without Losing Your Mind

Let’s just start with the fact that business travel is not about you.  It’s about the client, the company, the boss. That being said, you will rarely be bored, you’ll (probably) collect many frequent traveler points allowing you to take fun vacations on the cheap, and you’ll have a great deal more control over your schedule.  If those things sound fun, you may be cut out for the work of a consultant.

That being said, I will note that business travel is a very expensive way of building relationships.  In this world of social media platforms, all-encompassing teleconnectivity, and 24/7 availability, the quaint idea that the only way to conduct business is to warm a seat somewhere and look professional while doing so, is archaic.

Yet many many companies spend billions sending their employees all around the world, often at a moment’s notice.  If you are going to be what is affectionately called a “Road Warrior” you have to embrace the fact that one of the most important things you do as part of your job description, is to get yourself from Point A to Point B without having a breakdown or causing some hapless Administrative Support person to hate you.

There is something about the fact that the person sitting across your desk has upended their entire life, braved TSA and various security measures, physically packed clothing and sundries into a bag, and managed to navigate whatever ground transportation is required to be there… that makes people feel happy.  It’s that sense of power and control.  So you, the business traveler must remember that your very demeanor should convey a sense of urgency, deadlines, and information to be conveyed or learned that must be incorporated into the latest strategy or business case … by Friday.

You must, in short, take yourself seriously.  Very seriously.  While being polite.  Especially if you’re a woman.  More on that later.

But  not when you’re in your hotel room.  There you get to throw on your comfortable clothes, kick back, watch junk TV, and imbibe heavily (not so heavily you can’t get up in the morning, but seriously, I’ve never met a genuine Road Warrior who didn’t know every cheap place to drink within a 5 mile radius of the office at their regular destinations). One can only take oneself seriously for so long before you start to believe your own press.  This is the path to crazy.

Call it work-life balance, self-care, or just plain common sense, but please take time off from the job.  The company paid for you to get there so that you can be fresh, personable, and ideally add value during the work day.  At the end of the day, just like the people that live there do, you need to clock out for a while.

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