Friday, May 22, 2015

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Traveling for Work vs. Pleasure

I am on the road frequently, sometimes for pleasure, but mostly for business. Working in the tech industry, my job takes me all over the world. I have flown over 1.3 million miles over the past 15 years. On most of my trips, I end up at the airport at some ungodly hour in the morning, have layovers at distant airports and sleep in multiple hotels on a single trip. There have been times where I have woken up and not known what city I was in or where I needed to be that morning. 

I have traveled across Asia, Europe and all over the U.S. Many people I meet think it is exciting and exotic, and I suppose at first it was fun. However, anyone that does this for a living knows that things are not always as it appears. It can take 24 hours or more travel time door to door with long layovers in remote locations to get to my final destination. 

A typical trip goes something like this...You go from the airport to the hotel, try to get some sleep that night but usually don't. The next day, you get up and go to partner office for meetings, then jump in another cab or take the subway to next partner and more meetings. After 3-4 meetings that day, you finish it off with dinner with 1 last partner and finally back to hotel. After a full week or two, you finally go back to the airport for another full day of travel. 

Sometimes, your partners will take you to the most exotic restaurant in town and feed you things you only see on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman. I have risked my life eating blowfish, I have had escargot, I have eaten lobster Sashimi so fresh the lobster was still moving on the bed of ice and there have been things I have eaten where to this day I am not sure what it was. Usually I look for anything chicken on the menu but that is not always an option. There has been a time or two where I wasn't sure I would be able to eat what was sitting in front of me, but you don't want to offend your partner so you find a way to choke it down (sometimes alcohol helps). My wife has learned over the years that when I get home, all I want is a nice, home cooked meal, usually tacos.

If you are in a country where English is not the primary language, forget watching TV to relax in the evening (assuming you are even awake by the time you get back to the hotel) as you will be greeted by 30 channels of TV shows but you will have no clue what is going on. You rarely get any time to "see the sights" and most of the time your view of the city is from a taxi window. Now, you will get to see some interesting architecture as you drive by and if lucky, snap a few pictures. Oh, and taxi drivers can give you every bit as thrilling a ride as the best roller coasters in the U.S., so keep your hands inside the car at all times. By the time you finally get adjusted to the local time, it's time to head back to the airport and spend the next few weeks getting back on local time.

So, the last thing I want to do when I get home is jump on another airplane for a vacation. Sure I have plenty of air miles but sitting in another cramped seat that only reclines a few inches is not going to be on the agenda. Sleeping in a hotel and hearing the sounds of sirens up and down the street is not what I look forward to on vacation. 

Nope, camping for me is what is needed after so many business trips. I like to get away on a nice road trip. Get out to a nice state or national park where I can sit in the shade and feel the breeze, read a book or go for a hike. I want to spend time with my wife and my dog and just get away from traffic, the crowds, the emails, the noise of the city. I will cover in more detail about the healing properties of nature in an up coming issue of Cool Tears so look out for that one soon.

Do you have stories from your life on the road? If so, share it here, would love to hear about your experiences...let's compare notes!

See you on the road (or in the air), 
Jay T.

Some images used in this post provided under Creative Commons License