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The ultimate dream of a business traveler on a bad day is getting off the road to be closer to home. Get home at a reasonable hour. Quality time with the kids can be enticing. The grass is always greener, right?
I went for that dream not to long ago and am here to share a few observations. Not to say that they are all encompassing, it’s my story, yours may be different. But that is the beauty in it all, to each his own. Here we go.
I have been a weekly flyer for over 11 years. That means the worst and best of business travel in some people’s minds. Every week a new location. New people to meet. Lifetime status, unlimited free trips, reverse travel, and expense accounts. Fun, exciting stuff right? Except when you miss out.
Missing out on birthdays, friends parties, you name it can make you feel like a true nomad. So it is natural to yearn to get off the road. I too had that yearning for the life I only experienced for long weekends.
Before I got off the road, I consulted, counseled, and sound boarded my mentors and friends. What is it like? How much time do you really get at home when you are in a fast paced work environment that doesn’t stop for a birthday cake or movie in the park? I heard the answers I wanted to, and ignored the friends who had gone back to traveling after a year or two. The grass was so green. I wanted off the road.
Let’s compare for a second. As a traveler, Monday at 5 am comes quickly. That means early wake ups for the first flight of the day. There is a good chance you’ll have to book the last flight of the day on Thursday. Sure, you may be able to squeeze an early afternoon flight home to get home for dinner. Let’s count that, because every moment counts. Assuming working from home office on Friday that puts you at 80+ hours a week at home with a good quality day of Friday at home.
In the converse, let’s say you grind it out in town at a fast paced position. You set the pace, get in early Mondays around 7:30 am, before the flying in crew does. Mondays are the longest days, that’s why they are the Mondays. So you miss breakfast lunch and dinner with the kids. You are essentially gone that day. Tuesday you stick around for a rushed breakfast, but because you did, you stay late at work to get shit done. Missed another opportunity for dinner with the kids. Before you know it, it’s Wednesday. Mike, Mike, Mike, what day is it? It’s hump day and you haven’t spent but 1 or maybe two hours with your kids. Wednesday isn’t much different but let’s assume you get breakfast or dinner in with the kids, a long one at that. So you are at 3-4 hours with the kids before Thursday. This is being local.
Now the traveler has it rough. The hours are even more ridiculous. You have no home to go home to on the road except the hotel room. Sure the restaurants and bars with friends pass the time, but you can’t keep that up. The inevitable plan is to head back to the hotel around d 8 or 9 pm, work out, get room service then answer emails or do extra work till late night. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thursday early afternoon flights. The upgrade clears. You settle in and think of all you’ve accomplished since that Monday 5 am flight. The Woodford on the rocks is delivered, you FaceTime with the kids and plan a late dinner and Friday at the park. You’ll have all 8 hours working from home on Friday spending quality time with the kids when you would have had an otherwise chopped up 1 hour here and 1 hour there throughout the week.
You are in fact visiting Thursday through Monday at 5 am. You can get an uninterrupted 3 day weekend, every weekend. But what’s better? Would you rather have uninterrupted time with the family or chopped up hours here and there throughout the week?
Some of you have been through that decision process while others are coming up on it. Appreciate any perspective you can share with our fellow travelers in the comments below.