Top Five Secrets About Business Travel

Secret #1: It’s not glamorous. At all. No matter how much George Clooney makes it seem like it is.

First class seats. Expense accounts. Exotic locations. George Clooney. Uh, no. Try cramped coach seats, paying for a pillow and blanket, eating room service at 1am because your flight was delayed, visiting Cornelia, Georgia AGAIN (where they don’t even have room service—if your plane is delayed you get no dinner), and a guy who really doesn’t look like George Clooney (or a lady who doesn’t look like Vera Farmiga) trying to chat you up in transit. Sure, business travelers get the occasional nice dinner out, a chance to visit somewhere interesting, and sometimes meet fun people. But mostly it’s a lot of time away from your family, delayed flights, and realizing you forgot the critical thumb drive, or charger, or jacket, and running to Walgreens in the middle of the night to replace it. All of that being said…..

Secret #2: Sometimes it’s nice to get away.

Yes, I miss my husband and dogs when I’m gone. But honestly, not having to worry about the million things I should be doing around the house, or having to get up in the middle of the night to let our dogs out, plus having someone to make my bed and bring me food…. It can be nice for a little while. Usually about two nights and three days pass before I start getting homesick. Although, there was a period of time last January-March where I was literally gone every week and most weekends. That was way too much away time.

Secret #3: What’s in my contacts case? Not contacts.
Over the years I have picked up many, many packing tricks to maximize the space in my carry-on. I put my face moisturizer in spare contacts cases so that I don’t have to bring the bottle. And this is just one example of hundreds, because a business traveler will never, ever check their bag. Ever.

Secret #4: We deserve our Elite status. Trust me, we have earned it.

I know, I know. You get on a plane and there they are. The business travelers. Sitting smugly in their first class seats, or their exit row seats, or their bulkhead seats. Typing furiously on a laptop, finishing up a phone conversation, their suit jackets folded neatly over their suitcases already in the overhead bins. Yes we get to board first, yes we get the good seats, yes we sometimes get upgraded to first class. But that is because we are on these planes all the time. I have friends who are literally gone Sunday night through Friday afternoon, every week. One time I was on seven different flights in two days. We are there because we have to be there, and it is nice to get a few perks for it.

Secret #5: Almost half of business travelers are women.

In the early seventies, 1% of business travelers were women. Now? Over 40%. This explains the  recent appearance of women’s clothing in airport Brooks Brothers and the “women-only” floor and improved toiletries at many hotels. So just because I’m a woman (and a young woman at that) doesn’t mean I’m not just as serious about that exit row seat as you are.

Readers, what are your “secrets” about business travel?



  1. you only see the city you’re in from the back of the cab on the way to and from the hotel/airport. You may as well be anywhere for all you see of it.

  2. Back in the day when I was in the Corporate world, I traveled a lot (for the last company I worked for I was Corp. Environmental manager and we had 7 plants around the US). I even had the classic waking up in a hotel room and not knowing where I was (just knew that my bedroom at home didn’t have a window where there was one). And I used to have to tell everyone that business travel was not glamorous.

    But . . . the good part was collecting the frequent flier miles and taking my family on great vacations. Sometimes I even got to take my children on business trips. One summer I had to visit our two plants in the LA area — my daughter and I flew out (first class), drove down to San Diego to spend the weekend with family, drove back to LA, spent my birthday at Disneyland, and then I worked for several days while she hung out at the hotel, watching the Olympics and sitting by the pool. That made all of the traveling worthwhile.

  3. You will gain weight because you will always forget your sneakers and can’t go to the hotel gym.

  4. I would add “you know what city you are in because you recognize the gate you arrived at”

  5. Lordy. I don’t even travel as much as most of you, but I feel this. I feel this hard. Maybe because, though I don’t travel as often, I travel LONGER than the average business trip. I work for 7 different nonprofit associations, and I have to travel to some of their annual conferences, trainings, etc. to run them. I’m usually gone from home for 8 to 10 days for one trip, and I make those trips 3 to 4 times a year. People who don’t do this don’t understand that it’s really kinda sucky – I’m on my feet for 15 hours a day in a hotel or conference center, smiling and trying to make all attendees happy, crashing at 9:30 pm so I can get up at 4:00 am and start again the next day. I eat a LOT of bad food, because I’m far too stressed and busy to worry about what I’m shoving into my mouth, I’m exhausted, and when I go home, I am familiar with nothing more than the hotel/conference center and the airport. I’ve been to Vienna, but I know nothing about it except where to get the bus to the airport from the conference center across the river. And HA! to Gizmosdad – YES, been there. Or you get “airport deja vu” because you’re sure you’ve been in that airport before but you just can’t remember exactly when.

  6. Business travelers are younger than you think. Many traveling positions with the Big 4 and various IT consulting firms like people fresh out of college. That young person next to you wearing a suit with a back pack isn’t a college kid going to a job interview, s/he probably has already flown 3 flights that week and is on the way to audit your business.

  7. Just a side note to thank you for this blog. In my industry most of my work aquaintances don’t travel as much as I do, if ever. I work for one of the smaller companies with only a few reps in the country, so we all have big territories and when we get together once or twice a year it is nice to share common stories and complaints. But most of the people I see and work with on a day to day business have no idea what life on the road is really like, so it’s so refreshing to read your blog and think “wow that’s EXACTLY how I feel”. Makes me feel that I am not alone. My husband means well but I can’t expect him to fully understand what I go through with this job, so most of the time I won’t even talk about it. Again thank you!

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