As a now seasoned traveller for the purposes of work it occurs to me that certain truths exist about travelling for work that are really universal, apart from the look of disbelief when you tell people that don’t do much business travel, that it’s not actually all that much fun. The truth is that frequent use of airports for work travel purposes turns you into an entirely functional person, something my wife pointed out to me last summer when travelling for a weekend away when I had parked the car and had us at the gate within minutes in a whirlwind through the terminal that meant that she didn’t even get near the duty free! So, apart from becoming an airport ninja, what are my to pain points of business travel?
1. The painfully early start
There is simply nothing funny about setting your alarm for any time pre 6am. As a parent of 2 toddlers, I am not precious about getting a full 8 hours, but there something not right about your alarm going off at 4.50 am followed by an attempt to semi-consciously get dressed in the dark and negotiate a way to the front door, without waking the entire household up, and then remembering to turn off the alarm and quietly close it behind….
2. Journey to the airport
Here you have 2 options, either drive yourself or grab a cab, and both have their challenges.
Option A – Taxi
Now I don’t know about you but small talk is not something that can be engaged in easily when only semi conscious for me. Unfortunately this goes with the territory in getting an early morning taxi, whereby you either have to listen about how they have been working all night and not got a job and were going home after this one or how they only do early mornings because evening times “you do get all the messers…..insert war story about drunken passenger here……”
So taxi is out, the alternative is option B
Option B – Drive yourself
No nonsense small talk required but, car is invariably in need of being defrosted, followed by radio/music being too loud, incredible effort to concentrate on the road etc followed by negotiating the ever changing beast that is signage at the airport car park (I’m convinced that they move stuff around just for the amusement of those monitoring the CCTV!) Find a parking spot, walk 20 miles in the rain to the terminal/courtesy bus stop!
3. The bag
So you are traveling for business, this means laptop bag – work of the devil (or at least someone that has never heard of ergonomic design!) into said bag goes, chargers, electronics, a variety of bits of paper (passport, boarding pass), corporate grade indestructible 25 kilos of laptop, notepads etc… Essentially enough stuff to give you separated shoulders and an unnatural tilt to one side that you have the pleasure of hauling around miles of airport walkways.
4. Security screening
The first is the expert: Tell tale signs are flat shoes (her) and no belt (him) ,laptop, iPad metals and jackets into the tray first time with all the liquids in a see-through bag that sails through like the instructional video.This part of the fun is not uniquely the reserve of the business traveller, but being slightly more expert in negotiating this area means it tends to be the scene most likely to trigger your “Falling Down” moment. At airport security screening there are 2 types of people.
The second is the person that I inevitably get stuck behind. We all know them, oblivious to the lurid instructional signage they have been passing or standing adjacent to for 20 minutes, wearing more jewellery than Mr T, carrying gallons of liquids in their pockets and a bemused look on their face……
5. Time to kill and nothing to do
Going on holidays and having time to kill in the airport is fun, duty free to peruse, relaxing drink and bite to eat. Being a business traveller and having time to kill is torture… Same shops, everything the same in said shops as on the occasion of your previous visit, can’t drink as going to work and expenses policy won’t quite cover the €15 cheapest item on the menu! Just time to kill vainly attempting to connect to the “free wifi” that requires you to complete a crystal maze-esque set of cryptic instructions for access to 5 mins of 14.4k “broadband”
6. The arrival and the reminder you are not on holidays
Flying for holidays – Doors open at destination to sunshine and heat
Flying for business – Doors open to gale force arctic gusts, sidewards rain and a harsh reminder that you should have kept additional clothing in your carry-on!
7. The slight sense of exhaustion/being slightly tuned out all day
Due to point 1 you will have a strange sense of not being jet lagged but of being in a slightly different physiological time zone to the rest of world. You are ready for lunch at 10am, getting your second wind when everyone is hitting the post lunch lull and ready for bed by tea time leading to what feels like a slightly dampened level of consciousness all day long!
8. The “destination” hotel
To be fair most hotel facilities nowadays are pretty good and most employers will put you up somewhere reasonably decent ( if not only to ensure there is wifi and you will do a few late night emails). The only problem is generally the location, view of the local motorway, airport, office park and usually not terribly close or well connected to the real world!
So there you have it, an insight into the joyful things that cross my mind when the inevitable need arises to travel for work. Worth bearing in mind however, that once you’ve found your car (top tip: always write your car park zone on your ticket, airport carparks are massive!) the best part is being able to get into your own bed at the end of the return travel!
Would love to hear your gripes/tips for business travel via the comments box below!
This article originally appeared on http://www.theimperic.com on 15th May 2014