It’s funny, but I have a lot of conversations about all the travel I, and my fellow investment professionals, do in the course of our daily lives. For some reason, telling people that you “have” to go to New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Monaco or some other “sexeh” locale puts all sorts of weird ideas into people’s heads. It’s like they think business travel turns you into P-Diddy or something. You’re big pimpin’ and you spend the cheese because you go to New York and stay at the W Hotel in Times Square for a night (Starwood whore!).
So, for those of you who wonder what all us lonely travelers do when we’re out on the road, I thought I’d sum it up for you. If either scenario sounds familiar to you, sound off in the comments section.
How Folks Picture My Business Trips
My (first class) flight leaves at a completely reasonable daylight hour. I was able to pack during work hours and therefore had no encroachment upon my “personal life.”
I arrive at the airport and whisk through security ‘cos, you know, frequent flyer street cred.
I board the plane and drink champagne or my alcoholic beverage of choice all the way to my destination, where I am picked up by a helicopter or limousine and deposited at my uber-chic hotel.
My first meeting is always a lunch meeting, which is somewhere swanky and leather and where martinis are swilled until it’s time for my next meeting, which, curiously, is also over drinks.
After that meeting I return to the hotel to return a few calls. Or nap. Or get a massage. You know…”work.” Maybe I even take time to sightsee or catch a show.
My dinner meeting is always somewhere fabulous that the average mortal can’t get into and where my meal costs more than a mortgage payment.
Everyone then adjourns somewhere similarly hip/swanky (depending on the friend) and then finally return to the hotel around midnight.
The next morning starts no earlier than a brunch meeting before I head to the world’s largest board room to make a presentation about how everyone secretly makes money but doesn’t tell “the little people” about it.
I then go to another lunch meeting, knock back a couple of drinks before collecting checks totaling eleventy-million dollars and boarding my (first class) flight home, having skipped security entirely because, let’s face it, I’m me.
How My Business Trips Actually Go
I almost never get a flight that leaves when it’s daylight. Whether that means I get up at the absolute crack of dawn or whether that means I schlep my bags to the office and work all day before racing to the airport to catch a flight that night, I rarely see the outside of an airport while the sun shines.
The whole time I’m en route to the airport, I am checking to see where I am on the upgrade list. However many first class seats are left, there is at least a 50% chance that I am that number plus one.
I do have TSA Pre-Check, but I seem to have a high “hit rate” for random extra screening. So I get often get felt up before boarding the plane. And it’s Nashville, so there’s often someone with a gun in the pre-check line. After security I rush to take my seat and put my earphones in (and/or feign sleep) before my seatmate can strike up a conversation about insurance, actuarial work, healthcare or some other topic I could care less about.
I arrive at my destination city and get in a cab. It usually smells like Fritos. Unless it’s been raining in which case it smells like O that didn’t stay with the B. And Fritos. (C’mon y’all, that helicopter thing was like TWO TIMES and it only happens for GAIM Monaco).
I drop by the hotel (which is either corporate or points-grabbing approved), but my room isn’t ready because it’s still WAY early to check in. I store my bags and run to my first meeting.
(Full disclosure: Sometimes I check in so late that the only rooms left are “accessible”, so I get to hang my clothes 3 feet off the floor…almost equally fun).
I generally have meeting scheduled back to back. A full day will have no fewer than 5 meetings, which is just doable if you don't have more than 30 minutes travel time in between each. My last meeting of the day may include a glass of wine, but otherwise, weirdly, there is no adult refreshment during the course of my day. 50% of the time I have a dinner to go to, and 50% I have a date with room service while I work on all the stuff that didn’t get done while I was flying around like a buzz saw all day.
At some point, either really late at night or super early the next morning, someone calls who has forgotten I’m in another time zone. I tell them it’s fine while wiping sleep out of my eyes and firing up my computer. Hint: I sound unusually perky when you wake me up.
The next day starts with breakfast at 8:00 where one or both people don’t really get to eat because they are trying to do work during the meal. I generally check out of the hotel before this meeting so I’m essentially homeless from now on, and schedule meetings back to back until I get back into a Frito-esque cab to return to the airport.
Flights home seem to have some sort of karma attached that makes them more likely to be delayed. I hang out in the Admiral’s Club doing work that I didn’t get done during the day and listening to other business people talk too loudly into their phones. I eat too many pieces of square cheese and brownie bites.
I finally get home (after dark) and go to bed. The next workday happens 8 hours or less later.
The moral of the story: Business travel? Super sexy. Sorry to spoil your fantasy.