Pico Iyer romanticizes about business travel, a lifestyle traditionally open to “ridicule, of satire, even of tragedy” (and even pity):
The vacationer arrives in a city with all his time free (so he believes) and finds he can never enjoy a break from his holiday agenda. If he has a plan, he’s already halfway toward an unhappy ending; if he doesn’t, he may be in bigger trouble. The unexpected free day in which to explore a foreign place? It’s probably a joy quite lost to him. The hours of hard work that give life outside the office real savor? Unimaginable. Even when I’m traveling on holiday, I’ll often give myself an assignment or a writing project because, if I don’t, the days drift by in a blur, and I come home not really knowing where I’ve been.
The first rule of any kind of travel is that the destination, and even the purpose, of your trip is less important than the spirit you bring to it. One friend of mine, a self-employed filmmaker, plays frequent flying as if it were a kind of Monopoly with miles. Recently he took seven mileage runs in a month (one of them from L.A. to Bangkok and back), and a part of me guessed that he was in it for the accomplished business traveler’s sense of movement, the possibility of adventure, the chance to escape as much as for his 1K status.
Others like to sample the ways in which Atlanta, Chicago, and Raleigh, N.C., are all foreign countries. As when abroad, they aim to pick up a few words of another language in each of these places and some of the customs. The most exciting new city I’ve discovered in the past two years of global travel was Little Rock. For a few, the ultimate hero is a highflying consultant like Ram Charan, who didn’t have a proper home until he was 67, lived his adult life entirely in hotels and on planes, and sent his laundry to an office in Dallas, where a group of strangers would forward it to his next destination.
BusinessWeek recently ran a travel feature with some pretty interesting articles:
- The Bangalore Express: Business class on the LH455 from Silicon Valley to Bangalore is always full. It’s essentially a 10 hour networking session.
- Point Kings: How some people have a butler when they don’t have a home.