Thursday, March 01, 2007

Can someone tell me what's so great...

...about traveling for business? I thought it would be interesting, but really I could be anywhere. Instead, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Brentwood, TN, wondering about tornadoes, eating room service and, you guessed it, doing more work. I just don't get the appeal. Plus, the guy in the room next door is like practicing singing while playing guitar (badly). What's up with that?

Anyway, all things being equal, I'd rather be home in my torn apart house. But I guess I can do that tomorrow. If I had more time, and didn't feel exhausted, I'd write more about either of the exciting stories I have for you (per my last post). Soon. There's photos...


Jado said...

The only thing good about work travel is that sometimes you get to see neat scenery - I have seen the Rocky Mountains due to work travel.

Insidious Mr. Huge said...

As someone who's done quite a bit of business travel, I can relate to the misery you feel. It ain't all glamorous.

Travel is great when you get sent somewhere fun. For me, the best places have been NYC, Vegas, Seattle, Italy and Germany. On the flip side, get sent somewhere in the middle of nowhere and it can be a test of one's fortitude.

I can't count the number of military bases I've been to that were located smack in the middle of Bumfuck, Nowhere (incidentally, quite a common address for the DoD). Meager accomodations, crappy food choices, and an utter cultural void are the commonalities.

With that in mind, here are some tips from The Insidious Mr. Huge on business travel.

1. Do your recon. Before you travel, get on the web and scope out the area as best you can. Download local maps. Find areas of interest (if you'll be there for more than a few days and will have time to explore). Find local restaurants.

2. Find the best hotel you can for your per diem rate. If that isn't good enough, and if you really need comfort, suck it up and pay the difference out of pocket. With the money you'll be saving on food (see below), when all things are considered, you'll probably break even on the deal.

3. If your room is equipped for it, go grocery shopping so you can fix your breakfasts yourself. You'll save lots of money this way and may just eat healthier.

4. When eating out, be aware of what and how much you are eating. Remember that whenever you eat out, you are not in control of your food. Your meals are often less healthy than what you'd normally make and eat at home. Don't feel bad about not finishing your meal. You can always get a doggy bag and finish it for lunch the next day. If you don't follow this simple bit of advice, you WILL put on weight and lots of it. However, with that in mind...

5. Don't just sit in your hotel eating room service. Get out and have yourself at least one good meal that burns through your entire day's "meals & incidentals" allowance. Spend a little effort finding the best place to eat, even if it's a 30 minute drive in the next town over. Treat yourself. You'll be happy you did. Look at it this way: if you were home, you'd be buying gorceries with this money. However, business travel is pretty much found money. They're paying you to eat. At the very least, you break even when you're reimbursed, but usually you'll actually be making money on your travel.

6. Bring something to keep you occupied during your down time. Books, magazines, ,video games, CDs, DVDs--SOMETHING. That guy in the next room practicing guitar? That's his way (and mine, actually) of keeping sane while he travels. What's yours? You say you're bored out of your mind? Too effing bad, sunshine. It's your own fault for not planning ahead. If you forgot to bring something, get your ass out to the local video store and rent or buy some pre-viewed movies. Hit Best Buy or Walmart for some reading material (trust me, there are big box stores within range of wherever you might be). Stop wallowing in self pity and be proactive here. You'll be happier once you have something to do.

7. Get out. If you are there for any length of time, get in your car and drive. Find the "neat thing" to see or do in the area, even if it's hours away. With few exceptions, there has always been at least one thing wherever I've been. This is a big country. There is a lot to see. See it. If nothing else, I'll always have that story about how I was in Minot, ND for two weeks and decided to drive eight hours south over the weeked so I could see Devil's Tower, Mount Rushmore, and the Black Hills of SD. As Nike says, "Just Do It."

So that's about it. Aside from finding a decent bar that serves something other than domestic draughts, I can't think of anything else right now.

Try to enjoy yourself. Bring back some stories.

Insidious Mr. Huge said...


I just did a quick web search. Dude, you're like, 10 miles out of Nashville! If you can't find something to do then you're a hopeless sack of crap. Remind me to slap you when I see you next.

JAM said...

You misunderstood me, Huge. My bag has DVDs, CDs, and enough reading materials for at least a week. I'm staying at a good hotel that I've stayed at before (yes, that's right, this is the second time in my life I've been to Brentwood, TN. And the last time was sorta by choice, though not exactly...)

I know of a great restaurant and lots of stuff to do in this area (albeit kitschy), however, none of my colleagues were up for it (and there was some mayhem involving oversleeping from naps) AND we all had a lot of work that was due today (because the end of the company's fiscal year was Wednesday). Trust me, when I left, I was sorta looking forward to the trip.

And I know what you'll say in response, but I'm just not a troubled loner like you. (Also, I hope you sing better than that guy next door...)