Hit the Road: Business Travel’s Biggest Pros & Cons
Have to leave town for a business trip? The news may fill you with dread or give you a flurry of excitement in the pit of your stomach. Business travel can be filled with fun or charged with challenges.
Veteran travel consultant Carol Margolis, the founder of SmartWomenTravelers.com, BusinessTravelSuccess.com, and the author of Business Travel Success: How to Reduce Stress, Be More Productive and Travel with Confidence has learned how to maximize the positives of business travel and minimize the negatives:
Pro: Connecting with New People
Interacting with locals gives a trip more meaning, as you learn so much about food, culture and history through them. “Meeting people and exploring the places you get to visit has been the biggest pro of business travel for me,” Margolis says.“I’ve made friends with business people I met for work, as well as friends of friends who knew I was traveling to a particular location.”
Con: Missing Loved Ones Back Home
Use Skype, Face Time and other technology to be able to catch up with family and friends who are still at home. Texting photos about your travels, as well as bringing image gifts back, can soften the homesickness. “When my kids were little, I could bring the airline snack peanuts home, and they were thrilled,” Margolis says. “Then their tastes got more expensive.”
Pro: Seeing New Locations
Research the places you visit to find new spots to explore, whether it’s checking out an attraction, like a shoe museum in Toronto, or bringing along your kids and a nanny to enjoy the sights while you work. “I took my kids to a Holiday Inn in Minneapolis once, and for years, whenever they saw a Holiday Inn anywhere else, they would think they were in Minneapolis,” she says.
Con: Less Structured Days
Make time for yourself, by asking the front desk for a “shut-down call” at a designated time. Otherwise, “I will be on my laptop until I can’t see straight,” Margolis says. Once the call comes, “take time to relax, sit by the hotel pool, read, take a bath or do meditation.”
Pro: Being Nice Goes Far
Take care of the service professionals who are making your trip more pleasant. “I’m a big believer in tipping the maids every day — they’re they hardest working people in the hotel,” said Margolis. “Being nice to the front desk staff by saying good morning and being friendly to people you meet — I don’t expect anything by it, but I get treated like a queen. It just improves the whole experience.”
Con: Travel Stress
Missed connections, traffic and other issues can increase frustrations while traveling, but Margolis has learned that worrying doesn’t solve anything. “I know I will always get home, and I just don’t get stressed anymore,” she says. “I usually have a Plan B, like a list of flights to take, or where I can have a good dinner in an airport. I go with a positive attitude, and I’ve found I’ve had very few flight delays.”
Pro: Acquiring Points Through Programs
With airline flights, rental cars, and of course, hotel rooms, you can rack up a lot of credit if you enroll in programs like the IHG Rewards Club. You can then use that credit for discounts on travel fees or treats, such as buying flowers, shopping and eating out.
Con: It Can Be Hard To Stay Healthy
With access to new restaurants and long days, it can be hard but not impossible to eat well and exercise regularly. “You can make healthy choices every step of the way,” Margolis says. You can travel with your own snacks or foods, order grilled fish or chicken at a restaurant, and skip the fried side dishes in favor of steamed vegetables or a side salad.
Using the hotel gym or learning how to do exercises on your hotel bed or in your hotel room is another option. “Even if your willpower is down while at the airport, or at a conference where there may be a lot of drinking, it is possible to stay healthy every step of the way,” Margolis says.