Browsing Tag


Fun on the road?

This post clearly has the opportunity to be a whoa is me post, but I’ll try and not make it one of those.

So I’m officially immersed in the my spring speaking tour, 3 speaking gigs this week and at least another 12,000 air miles and additional 3 pitches before June 10 and various and sundry trips in between. I just received an email from a colleague informing me to have fun in Boston and I thought about it and I think folks who don’t travel much don’t necessarilly understand that travel isn’t fun.

The Essence of Business Travel

No matter what the location – Pheonix, Maui or Amsterdam it is still work! Typically you travel somewhere because you have stuff to do and places to be. You may be staying at the Pheonician, a four seasons or resort in some place like Banff Springs – you rarely get to enjoy the ammendities. OK sometimes you DO get to golf…

Ultimately I try my best to weave in friends and family in as possible, but it is normally a 1 out 10 type of thing since the paid gig comes first – priorities. You have to make sure your up for a keynote, customer meeting or prospect meeting at 9, so you can’t do bars with your fraternity brother until 3 AM. So while I appreciate Ed’s well wishing and fun recommendation, it is gonna be difficult.

But wait, I should have a good meal at least right?

Good Food Must Mean Good Times, Right?

A man’s got to eat and not every meal on the road is good, there is a whole lot of airport McDonald’s, more than I like.  That being said, admittedly I have had some GREAT meals on the road, both on and off the expense account, but that doesn’t mean that it was fun. The general rule is that the better the meal, the more likely it is NOT on an expense account, since I’m a foodie I try and get the best local food possible.  I acutally spend a good deal of time investigating place to eat, since this is typically the only thing which you can ultimately count on when on the road, since a man’s got to eat.

At the end of the day, no matter what the restaurant is – it is business if you aren’t able to eat alone. You’ll typically have customers, partners or staff members and you still have to talk supply chain or technology all night long, remain sober and not unveil your real interests. I gotta be work Jon who likes wine, boring stories and is just facinated by your latest project which has no relationship to the deal I’m trying to position or close.

Not that I’ve done the math, but I think there is actually an inverse relationship between food quality and fun on the road. The better the restaurant the more mundane the discussion – karma punishment. Too often you are forced to fain interest in stories about a kid’s tee ball league, football or the latest cool thing they did with a Seibel integration.

So while you may get good food, you’re ultimately stymied by the atmosphere.   How many people who you work with or who you are selling to are people you would actually hang out with?

In closing, I do have to say the event I’m at and speaking to are some of the most interesting folks I know. The people that participate at NEECOM are as innovative as anyone in the industry and significantly improve my understanding of the stuff I do every time I attend. I am ultiamtely blessed by the opportunities I have and the people I meet, so Ed – I guess I will have fun in Boston since I will learn from the folks I see.

Please Note: Feel free to forward this to your spouse if you have the same type of discussions I have when I say good night as I leave Morton’s. If you have these discussion you know what I mean and you need to forward this as independent validation of life on the road.

6 Sure Fire Scenarios to Make Business Travel Suck Less

I get to do a good deal of travel annually, both personal and business – but at least 85% of it is business and I continue to make B-team mistakes when it comes to living out of a bag. Travel train wrecks are no fun and for some reason things that happen are more annoying when you’re traveling. I suspect it’s the hurry up and wait thing which exasperates this weird travel “hectic-ness vibe”.

So I’ve spent time identifying a couple of reoccurring scenarios I find myself getting into as a business traveler which need a resolution.

Damn it’s too late/early to call!

I often find myself on other times zones and get goofed up on my schedule and forget to ring home. This scenario’s resolution plan is fairly straight forward – Microsoft Outlook. By using outlook timezones, meetings, and whatever might get in the doesn’t because I have a reminder to call home now. All I did was put an outlook task on my calendar every day at 3:00 PM. I may ultimately need to adjust the timing, but should work everywhere – Europe to San Francisco. The daily task even has utility when I’m home. It becomes the “Do I need to stop and buy something” call.

Holiday, what holiday?

With the near reliance on Outlook for nearly a decade and even more so with the call home task, I hadn’t noticed that US Holidays aren’t enabled by default which has caused me issues multiple times. I attempt to schedule my travel a min 6 weeks out and all I see is a clear calendar, no holidays. Not any more! I was able to easily enable US Holidays in Outlook by going to tools>options>calendar options>add holidays without issue.

With holidays visible now on all of my devices I shouldn’t end up forgetting to plan for long weekends or to not be aware that I’m accidentally traveling on say Mother’s day. It’s not like you have much flexibility on btravel, but it’s helpful to know such context earlier rather than later, just in case you have to buy a bigger gift.

I got my iPhone, I’ll find it

As a geographer and a male, I sometimes find it difficult to acknowledge that paper maps are required at all. Especially if I have already been to the city a couple of time or I have my phone with me. I’ve used my iPhone a couple of times and I can’t seem to orient myself with it while driving. On a recent trip to IAD, I made 1 wrong turn which ate up 8 minutes of time and $6 in unneeded tolls so I’m not to confident in the iPhone as my map/directions provider. So it’s paper directions for me going forward, I’ll just print them out when I print my boarding pass.

A 7:00 am Flight is never a good idea

This concept of taking 7:00 am seems reasonable and actually tempting more often than not, but in practice it never works. You have to wake up at like 3:45 AM, get to the airport and you now catch a hour delay. So I just asked myself 1 question: How cool does one need to be to roll into Mid-Town for a 11:00 am meeting from Atlanta. Quick answer, I’m never going to be that cool so it’s a flight the night before for me.

NOTE: Each region will have a similar scenario – just substitute the city most appropriate for your location to internalize this spatial scenario – 9:30 meeting in Chicago from Detroit. A 10:30 meeting in LA from SFO.

Don’t be the weird old guy at a concert

Sometimes with business travel you get this rare open evening, late morning or an afternoon where you can catch a moving, a leisurely lunch or live music at a local venue. My preference has historically been music on the road as a great way to consume downtime, today I mainly opt for hotel wireless and delivery.

I’ve seen some really good music by happenstance on the road – String Cheese, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Widespread, Derek Trucks, Disco Biscuits….. so it’s your call. I’m just not sure I’m in for hanging with a bunch of kid’s, which is what audiences have essentially become to me.

So why have audiences become a bunch of kids to me? Well I’ve recently noticed that I’m trending towards the weird old guy standing in the back of the venue checking his blackberry.

Dude, I lost my “X”

Let’s just get a baseline on the stuff I’ve lost during travel in the last 3 years or so:

  • 2 iPods – 1 was the victim of a airplane seat pocket and the other a cab I think
  • 3 pairs of sunglasses – 1 hotel, 1 rental car and 1 plane pocket
  • 1 pair of prescription glasses – not really sure
  • 1 jacket – forgot I had it in the overhead compartment, didn’t realize until the next day.
  • 1 set of headphones – combination iPod loss as well in a seat pocket
  • Socks galore

The only common thing each of these scenarios had was some sort of distraction like being on the phone or a quick turn connection to my final destination. It’s not like I generally don’t like losing stuff and it annoys me for a while. So I’ve decided my Zen-esque path forward is to at peace with my losses. On the pragmatic side I’m going to just budget for losing $600 worth of stuff a year in flight and hope to stay under budget.

Shows on a Plane: Top 5

Business travel isn’t that great deal of fun so I make the best of it. Flights are my dedicated reading time – real books the whole tactile experience and everything. The book is a fairly elegant and enduring technology which I enjoy to use a must as possible. Ultimately I finish a book every now and again mid-flight, but I could always read the in flight magazine until recently, Delta Sky now has an RSS feed which reduces the reading options for me now since I read online.  To that end, I suspect I will see more movies and cooking shows when I finish a book mid-flight in future. To date, I’ve seen a good deal of blockbusters and crap (Hot Rod), but mainly it’s middle of the road stuff – not too good, not too bad TV or movies.

The mix of programming ranges from sitcoms to in-flight shorts, Delta created perhaps up to 4 fairly entertaining cartoons on being on a plane, 3-4 minute vignettes. Overall the in flight programing has a general audience feel about it and which makes sense since it’s a captive audience of unknown passenger make up. Apparently planes are a tertiary market for film targeting business travelers and vacationers.

So I spent some time thinking about what I have seen on a plane. To be exactly: What semi-precious gemstones of media have I picked up on along the way at 32,000 ft.? So here’s 5 items which I put at the top for various reasons:

  1. Notting Hill – I saw this on the way to the UK – this film is just one of those neat coincidences which burns into one’s memory. While this would be a movie I would never have thought I would watch, ultimately I would be wrong. Emily loves it and I’ve now watched it like 10 times. Damn you TBS!
  2. The Spiderman(s) – I watched ALL 3 for the first time on a plane. #3 wasn’t that entertaining, but the trip to Italy was great.
  3. The Wonder Boys – There is no other way to see this movie but on a trip to Seattle and a forgotten book.
  4. Becker – While not a movie, it was a really good thing to watch repeatedly on my way to New York a couple of times. It was like prep work, I guess that’s why I never really “fit in” in mid-town.
  5. National Treasure: Book of Secrets – I’ve seen the first one like 45 times, so catching it this month was cool. A reasonably good sequel.

Bolton, UK – Btravel

A little business travel and a bunch of writing, just finished a piece on the plane which I have to submitt later today.  I could just press send, but I have 18 hours to think about it before I hit send.  Timezones can be good things and bad things.  Today, it is a good thing.

The Villiage of Bolton in the UK


Where? Bolton UK - Just outside Manchester

Bolton: 53°.31’N 2°16’W approximately