9 Crazy Myths About Business Travel – Debunked!

How many times have you heard it? “It must be so fun to travel all the time for work! Staying in all those nice hotels and eating all those great meals!” Yup…I’ve heard it too. I can’t always figure out if it’s envy or they don’t really have a clue what it takes to be a regular road warrior. There are a lot of Myths About Business Travel out there – and we aim to debunk every one of ’em.

If you travel for work and are reading this right now you just said “amen!”

When I get time off the road from business travel I often get the winsome comment from a family member or friend excited about my trip to Chicago (or wherever) last week. “Must have been awesome man. Did you go to Wrigley?” Uh…no. I flew in on the early flight so I was up at 3AM to make a 10AM meeting…did lunch w/ the customer and went straight back to the airport, only to have my flight delayed for 3 hours because of thunderstorms and got a sinus headache. So NO I did not see Wrigley…!

Myths About Business Travel

I will also get the occasional sly comment about “how quiet the hotel room is and how insane the kids have been today. Must be nice…” Yes, it’s nice to be completely alone, exhausted from entertaining customers all night (If I have to hear another lame customer joke…), away from your family, and trying to sleep so I can get up at 5AM to catch my next flight..

 

Everyone has their preconceived notions about the glamorous life of the business traveler. And don’t get me wrong, there is some truth to some of those cliches, but at the end of the day us Road Warriors know it’s a grind!

So here are the 9 Crazy Myths About Business Travel…debunked!

9 Crazy Myths About Business Travel…debunked!

  1. It’s all glamour!
  2. “The Sightseeing is AMAZING…OMG, you are so lucky you get to see X
  3. You will always travel in business/first class!
  4. You have so much free time while you travel!
  5. It must be so relaxing to be alone in your hotel room w/ no kids to feed or dishes to wash!”
  6. Business travel is only about getting work done!
  7. I will use all my miles for free vacations & trips!
  8. I don’t need to travel for my industry!
  9. Business travel is going away thanks to video conferencing

Ok, let’s get to the Myths About Business Travel!

Business Travel Myth #1: It’s all glamour!

Myths About Business Travel

As I am writing this I just wrapped up a week long stint in Nashville and as luck would have it I got some food poisoning which stayed with me through my 2 stop flight back. So glamorous…

Or the dirty sheets that didn’t get changed in my hotel room but I was too tired to move rooms story.

Or the time I got a cold the morning of the flight and dripped and sneezed and oozed my way back to Florida only to get hit with a migraine so bad I had to miss my customer dinner. Still got up a 7 the next day (which with the time change was 4 am) so I could deliver my speech – which I did.

Dare I go on? Ok…I will!

How about the time when I sat next to a migrant worker who literally had come straight from the field and boarded the plane. The stench was so bad I was gagging.

Or the time our plane lost an engine on takeoff and we almost crashed?

Travel MEME Myths About Business Travel

Well, you get the picture. There are countless examples of the less then glamorous road warrior life. And, to be fair, there are many examples of it being exactly that. Like staying in a ridiculous suite in Vegas for a conference, or meeting with a customer for lunch in the Empire State building, or visiting some of the best restaurants in the country — all on the company’s dine.

Of all of the Myths About Business Travel, this one rings the truest for me. To the outside world it may seem glam, but it often is not. My point is this: it’s glamorous some of the time, but not all of the time. Remember, it’s a j-o-b!

Business Travel Myth Status: Dispelled!

Business Travel Myth #2: “The Sightseeing is AMAZING…OMG, you are so lucky you get to see X

Have you ever been a trip with your significant other where everything was just right? The sunset was perfect, the sights amazing, the food delicious? You’ve just seen a once-in-a-lifetime destination. Sounds awesome.

Now do it alone.

Myths About Business Travel

You see, when you travel for work, you often spend significant amounts of time by yourself. ALONE. Yeah, there are customer’s and colleagues which is fun sometimes, but you are not seeing or visiting these places with the PERSON YOU LOVE.

I recall taking THE most scenic drive ever up the coast of Oregon on my way back to the airport. I stopped at a lighthouse, I took scenic shots, put the top down on my rented Camaro (thank you National!). Stunning by all accounts. But it was just me. I wished my wife was with me to share the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, you get to see and do some amazing things. Truly amazing things. But you probably won’t be with the people you love the most so it will be a little bittersweet.

Business Travel Myth Status: Debunked!

Business Travel Myth #3: You will always travel in business or first class!

Listen, getting an upgrade to first class or business class is a awesome. Especially if you are tall like I am. Nothing like more leg and seat room, plus some booze and maybe food. This is especially valuable for really long trips. And by sticking with a single airline and gaining status you will increase your chances to get upgraded. Which all sounds nice in theory.

Here’s reality.

  • More people are traveling for business – so you have more competition for the upgrade.
  • More people travel first class (often non-business people who actually spend the money to buy the more expensive ticket)
  • Most companies will never allow you to actually purchase a first class ticket these days so you are buying coach…and hoping or an upgrade.
  • If you fly a discount airline like Southwest or Spirit they don’t even have first class…
  • Most companies want you to choose the cheapest air travel you can which can sometimes make it difficult to stay on a single airline (and thus harder to get status to get upgraded with)

Myths About Business Travel

You get the picture. The upgrades do happen, but it’s not a guarantee and you will still spend a fair amount of time in coach.

        Business Travel Myth Status: Debunked!

Business Travel Myth #4: You have so much free time while you travel!

Free time. What a nice idea. You will have free time while you travel. No doubt. But is it really useful free time? For example, last week I was in Nashville for business. I fully intended to get out and see the town a bit more (after all I run a business travel blog and well, Nashville is chock full of great places to see and then write about). But, after spending all day getting audited, and then having a bout of food poisoning I spent my free time sitting in my hotel room – close to the toilet.

lazyperson Myths About Business Travel

Often the time you get is spent catching up on email, or being too exhausted to go out and see the area. Not always, of course, but it’s not nearly as easy as your friends and family might think. This is one of thosMyths About Business Travel that’s hard for your wife to understand…no comment :-).

Business Travel Myth Status: Debunked!

Business Travel Myth #5: It must be so relaxing to be alone in your hotel room w/ no kids to feed or dishes to wash!”

Sleep_while_traveling Myths About Business Travel

When you travel for work you will get mountains of alone time. Alone in your rental car. Alone in your airplane seat with your headphones watching a movie and alone in your hotel room. And yes it’s quiet. There are no dishes to wash. No house to clean. No kids to put to bed. And yes, it can be relaxing. But the truth is, while it’s nice to not have to wash the dishes, you are also not always 100% relaxing. For example, I often have to spend time catching up on email at night that I could not get to during the day. Or putting the finishing touches on a presentation for the next day. Or ironing my clothes.

 

And your  body is in one of two states: super exhausted and tired (because of jet lag / time zone change) or super awake and you have insomnia (because of jet lag / time zone change). And you are sleeping in a place that is not your own. Not your bed. Not your pillows. Not your couch.

So yeah, while it’s quiet it’s not always restful. Some of the best rest I’ve had is when my kids are swimming noisily in the background while I doze in and out of a football game under my patio cover…after coming home from a long trip.

Business Travel Myth Status: Debunked!

Business Travel Myth #6: How awesome is it to eat all that great food!! (double check w/ the top)

Myths About Business Travel

I won’t lie. You get to eat at a lot of nice places as a corporate traveler. And often you get the company to pay for this pleasure. I’ve eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world in place like NYC, or Boston and Indianapolis. So yeah, it’s awesome. But, there’s a dark side to this as well:

It is REALLY hard to eat healthy when you are on the road. 

All of those great places to eat make it very difficult to keep the calories down. Multi-course meals, with alcohol and the customer always wants dessert. It can be very hard to eat healthy, exercise and stay on track when you live the road warrior life. So while it’s awesome in some respects, it’s NOT awesome in many other.

Business Travel Myth Status: Debunked!

Business Travel Myth #7: I will use all my miles for free vacations & trips!

By following travel hacks like these, I’ve been able to pile up oodles and oodles of free hotel nights, miles for airline travel and rental cars. You’d think I’d be gallivanting off every chance I get with the family to some exotic location. Not true. The realities of life are such that despite all of that free stuff you get, you don’t always get to use it. More often then not I find myself booking a free flight for my eldest daughter to come visit or sending my wife out to see her family.

Sure, we use our miles from time to time (e.g. a quick one night “date staycation” with the wifey at the local Hilton) or the occasional vacation to Hawaii, but the truth is the corporate traveler is not going to use them as often as you might think.

Travel Myth Status: Debunked!

Business Travel Myth #8: I don’t need to travel for my industry!

My dad is a carpenter. You wouldn’t think carpenters need to travel for work, but sure enough he does. Flying to different projects across the country, staying in hotels and racking up points. If anything, relatively cheap and accessible air travel has created opportunities to travel even more. I’ve sat next to farmers, field workers, drank beers with oilmen in North Dakota in from Texas, sat next to teachers traveling up to Sacrament for the union meeting. So many careers that you wouldn’t expect to travel – do just that.

Business Travel Myth Status: Debunked!

Business Travel Myth #9: Business travel is going away thanks to video conferencing

My company recently started using Google Hangouts and I have to say it’s pretty darn awesome. Now, instead of putting my the conference call on mute and multi tasking, I am live on the screen as we all are. And since I work for a 14,000 person company getting to see people “face to face” via Hangouts is wonderful for building relationships with key people that I might go years never meeting in person.

Myths About Business Travel

That said, business travel is NOT going away. I repeat: it’s not going away. This is one of those really stupid Myths About Business Travel, IMO. If anything video conferencing has enhanced the effectiveness of communication modes we were already using (e.g. a conf call or a 1:1 call with an employee in Boulder City). But there is still a need to meet with customers face to face. To press the flesh. The build that relationship in person. Or to attend a conference. Or install the software at the customer’s site, or do the project kick off meeting, etc, etc. Should I go on? No – you get it. If anything MORE industries are traveling than before.

Business Travel Myth Status: Debunked!

My Final Thoughts on Myths About Business Travel

Listen, Business Travel has its perks. I like my job. But it is still a job. And it comes with the pros and cons of any job. It’s not all glamour. And it’s not all grind. Like anything, it’s a mix of both. So the next time you are at the family BBQ and your cousin asks you how Wrigley field was, just smile and say, “Great!” You and me will know better.

So, how about you? Did you enjoy this list of business travel myths? What are your favorites? Did we forget any business travel myths? Join the conversation on social media or drop us a comment.

If you like this article, don’t forget to check out my 101 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler and level up your corporate traveler life! Or if you are a first time business traveler, check out this great list of tips to get you started.

9 myths about business travel
 

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4 comments on “9 Crazy Myths About Business Travel – Debunked!

  1. Jay G.

    I really enjoyed reading this. When I worked as an outreach coordinator, people always commented about how nice it was to have a flexible schedule and travel all the time. I enjoyed the work, but like you said, it was a job. I was only traveling in one state! So, I can only imagine how you feel. When you’re working you have to be on for the client. When you’re finished you just want to face plant into the closest soft space. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. J Smith - Biz Travel Blogger Post author

      Thanks Jay! Great comments. Being ON for the client is one of the most exhausting things there is. And it’s hard for people to understand it unless they’ve done it!

      Reply
  2. Pingback: 101 Business Travel Tips Business Travel Tips and Travel Hacks | The "C" Boarding Group - Business Travel Blog

  3. Pingback: 105 Business Travel Tips Business Travel Tips and Travel Hacks | The "C" Boarding Group - Business Travel Blog

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