Enter a meetup of twenty- and thirty-somethings and mingle. Begin to discuss passions and life goals over a glass of wine. In my experience, at least half the people you talk to will wax poetically about seeing the world. “I love to travel,” they say. Travel is about exploration, meeting interesting people, challenging yourself. “It’s my passion.”
Then enter a cocktail networking reception at a conference for mid- to high-level executives, and start introducing yourself. At least half the people you talk to will complain about the stress of travel. “I hate to travel,” they say. Travel is about being away from loved ones, the burden of managing an office while away, and a painful way of getting from point A to point B. “I’m burned out.”
I may be exaggerating a little. But the fact is, it’s easy to love travel and it’s easy to hate travel. Business travelers tend to fall a little closer to the latter.
Unfortunately for business travelers, the journey becomes a means to an end, and so much of the fun goes away. It’s more about making the sale. Nailing the keynote. Coalescing the team. Whatever the business goal of the trip was. And the means—getting there—sucked.
For the passionate travelers, there is no business goal. The goal is just to see something new, beautiful and stimulating. “Isn’t that cool?” is goal enough. Getting there disappears from memory once the cool begins.
The cool of travel can be elusive for biz travelers. The most fabulous sight or event is dulled when flying solo. I’ve had so many cool experiences on business trips—flying in a private jet to the Taj Mahal, stepping onto the glass balcony of the Willis Tower Skydeck, chatting with celebrity chefs, dining in a hangar at IAH (not to mention so many fine, fine meals at the best restaurants in the universe)—all made a little hollow because I was not with those I care about. And chances are, the older you get, the more people get left behind when you’re on the road.
It’s hard to love travel when you do it for work. And the more you do it, the harder it gets. (The committed and focused few are able to turn the trip into a journey in creativity.)
Do you love travel? Or hate travel?