The Bogus Part of Business Travel

Imagine this:

“Julie, can you make it to the staff meeting on November 12th?”

“Let me check.” A reasonable pause ensues. “No, I’m in Singapore that week. How about November 30th?”

“No, I have to go to Germany that week.”


Are you catching this? I have to check my calendar? Someone has to go to Germany? It’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Trust me; I know exactly what I’m doing on November 12th, where I’ll be, what time my flights are, my tours start, and what the weather forecast in Singapore is for that day. I’ve read three tour books, lined up as much sightseeing as I can, and already have a map of the Metro. I do not need to check my calendar to know where I’ll be on November 12th.

The most bogus part of business travel is that we have to pretend we’re not over-the-top excited about it.  We drum up more excitement about where we’re going to have lunch on any given day than we do about traveling halfway around the world on the company’s dime. It’s ludicrous.

Here’s what’s really going through my mind:

“Julie, can you make it to the staff meeting on November 12th?”

No! I’ll be in Singapore! Oh my God, I’m going to Singapore! I never thought I’d go there. What should I pack? I know it’s humid. I’ve got to go get some tour books. I wonder how much free time I’ll have in the evenings? I’d better add on a couple of vacations days. What can I do there? Oh my God, I’m so excited!

I’d like to do a happy dance. I’d like to jump up and down and squeal like a little girl, but instead I have to bite my lip and act as if it’s no big deal and that I couldn’t care less if they send me or not. Because it’s work. And work isn’t supposed to be fun, right?

Then, when I get back, the pretense starts again.

“How was Singapore?”

“Good. We made a lot of progress; got a lot of work done.”

Not a word about the all the incredible sights I’ve seen or things I’ve done. All anyone wants to know about is the meeting I was there for. I’ll almost have to pretend the rest never happened. That I didn’t traipse all over Chinatown, and Little India, and spend half a day in Malaysia, or go on the night safari. I’ll just describe the hotel and the office and give a brief, two-word report on the meetings themselves. That’s what they want to know about.

How bogus is that?

Have you traveled on business? Did you have to pretend that it wasn’t the greatest thing ever?


11 responses to “The Bogus Part of Business Travel

  1. LOL! You sound like me with all the planning. I’m always afraid of missing out on something amazing! I just don’t understand how those people travel someplace new for a limited time and just wing it.

    • Worse. The people I work with fly in, go to the office the next day, and then fly home in the evening after their meetings are done! They might have dinner out, but that’s as much of the country or city we’re in that they see! It boggles my mind.

  2. Julie, I hope you have a wonderful trip. And, if you weren’t excited there would be something wrong with you!! Be careful……

  3. HA! The wife and I were talking about this today. When we travel for work we stay over the weekend and maximize our time in a place; our friends though go to a city and see the following things: airport, taxi, office, hotel room, hotel restaurant (if they even bother going down for that). I wish I could say I understand, but really I don’t.

  4. That’s funny because I’ve never thought of business travel that way. From what I’ve heard, most people don’t have time to do much except go to meetings and stay in their hotels. Enjoy your stay in Singapore!

    • Yes, that’s how many business people see it. But I add on a couple vacation days and stay on at my expense. I can’t imagine travelling to other regions and then not taking advantage of it while you’re there. I think I’d cry if I didn’t see anything but the hotel and the office. It’s just not how I’m wired.

  5. I always meet business travelers who always complain about never having time to explore the place they fly in as they just fly in, work, and fly out.

    You’ve definitely got it good! 🙂 That’s how I feel about going on volunteer missions at times, although when I get to the location, I’m usually always on work mode. However, my favorite quote is: “word hard, play harder” so there’s always a lot of playing after work!

    • Good for you! And yes – we definitely get our work done, and then PLAY! It astounds me that some of my co-workers don’t add on a little extra time to explore. Our airfare is paid for. A night or two at a hotel and meals isn’t that much. I think they’re just not that adventurous.

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