CNN Covers The Dark Side Of Business Travel

Filed Under: Media, Travel

I’m a big fan of CNN Business Traveller, which I think is one of the few shows which covers travel in a fair and consistent way. For that matter I’m also a big fan of Richard Quest, who is a true aviation geek and road warrior. He’s one of the few mainstream media people covering travel who actually knows what he’s talking about.

I watch CNN Business Traveller every month, though found this month’s episode to be especially interesting, as it focuses on travel woes, and specifically the trials and tribulations of being a frequent traveler. Here’s the preview for this month’s show:

You can watch the full episode here, or also read the story about the episode if you’re not a visual person. But I think this episode, and in particular the first segment, will resonate with a lot of road warriors. While they speak with a doctor and a researcher, I think the insight from the business traveler is perhaps the most relatable to many. The discussion goes something like this:

“Do you still enjoy it?”
“You know, I think at some point it’s hard to say enjoy. It’s something you can’t live without.”
“It is a love-hate relationship. There is a glamor to it, there’s an achievement. They’ve gamified the system to where you really want to earn that badge. But yet, the toll it takes on your personal, professional, and marital life is significant. Yet we keep doing this.”
“Do you ever feel lonely?”
“You see these amazing places, and then you realize you have virtually no one to share it with.”
“How long will you keep doing this?”
“As long as they let me do this. We complain about it but we don’t stop doing it. We like going out and seeing the world.”

Hearing that reminded me of “the curse of the traveler” which I first wrote about last September:

An old vagabond in his 60s told me about it over a beer in Central America, goes something like this: The more places you see, the more things you see that appeal to you, but no one place has them all. In fact, each place has a smaller and smaller percentage of the things you love, the more things you see. It drives you, even subconsciously, to keep looking, for a place not that’s perfect (we all know there’s no Shangri-La), but just for a place that’s “just right for you.” But the curse is that the odds of finding “just right” get smaller, not larger, the more you experience. So you keep looking even more, but it always gets worse the more you see. This is Part A of the Curse.

Part B is relationships. The more you travel, the more numerous and profoundly varied the relationships you will have. But the more people you meet, the more diffused your time is with any of them. Since all these people can’t travel with you, it becomes more and more difficult to cultivate long term relationships the more you travel. Yet you keep traveling, and keep meeting amazing people, so it feels fulfilling, but eventually, you miss them all, and many have all but forgotten who you are. And then you make up for it by staying put somewhere long enough to develop roots and cultivate stronger relationships, but these people will never know what you know or see what you’ve seen, and you will always feel a tinge of loneliness, and you will want to tell your stories just a little bit more than they will want to hear them. The reason this is part of the Curse is that it gets worse the more you travel, yet travel seems to be a cure for a while.

None of this is to suggest that one should ever reduce travel. It’s just a warning to young Travelers, to expect, as part of the price, a rich life tinged with a bit of sadness and loneliness, and angst that’s like the same nostalgia everyone feels for special parts of their past, except multiplied by a thousand.

All very thought provoking, in my opinion!

  1. I think it is very true and correct, and this comes from someone who has travelled extensively for business for 25 years (granted more some years than others, but usually 100 nights or more).

  2. Teen girls who have never been anywheree have this exact same angst. THe travel is irrelevant. It’s the human condition that nobody else gets the totality of yr experience. IF the guy had lived in the same town all his life married to same person for decades he would still want to tell his stories a bit more than others would want to hear them. He ain’t a special snowflake. Travel or don’t but making decisions to reduce angst is a waste of time since the amount of angst comes from yr capacity for reflection rather than yr experiences.

  3. Thought provoking.
    Off topic:
    I see Lufthansa operates an Airbus 343 for the past couple of days or weeks on their FRA-CCS-FRA route (534 535).
    Any idea where I can find more info, eg is it just for a month or is it for a bit longer?

  4. I hope you don’t compare what you do to actual business travel. Yours is self chosen and at luxury hotels. Actual business travel is far less luxurious.

  5. Next time you are in LA volunteer at a homeless shelter, hospital, hospice and people with disabilities organization. Learn something by listening to their life stories and daily struggles. Love is an action, not a word.

  6. @Peachfront – Sorry, what the hell are your trying to say? That has to be the most incoherent thing I’ve read all day – I suggest taking an English class sometime soon.

    @LF – Seriously? Why exactly are you reading a travel blog – one that mostly deals with elective luxury travel? I’m pretty sure 99.999% of the readers and commenters here could care less about their so called carbon footprint.

    As for the OP – I can assure you Richard Quest is no Road Warrior. I’ve been at this for about 30 years – and while a nice trip happens on a rare occasion, it’s not all CX F and Park Hyatt for most people.

    At least most US business travel consists of a Courtyard Marriott or some shitty Sheraton in a god forsaken shithole town, a hundred miles from the closest real airport. Having to drive a smoked in, Hertz rental with 30k miles to get to your customer site and having to eat at Applebees just before they close so maybe you can get back to said Sheraton for a few hours sleep before your 5:45am flight back home the day before thanksgiving – THAT is typical business travel and THAT is a true Road Warrior.

  7. I think the simple obvious truth is more that the only persons who like to travel alone are simply “loners” who will have these loner issues regardless of whether traveling or not. It is not like they don’t have choices.

  8. One thing that is critical for me is that I am able to bring my wife with me on many of my business trips. My company has a policy, as most major consulting companies do, where flying a spouse or SO to your work location is expensable in lieu of the employee travelling home for the weekend. The net cost to the client is neutral but this goes a huge way to making a near 100% travel schedule possible. This type of policy should be encouraged at other companies. Now, for those with children at home that is still not going to work for them so much…

  9. @Mike Speak for yourself there, bud. If you’re a loner who likes to travel, there’s probably a reason – not that the CNN piece even once referenced them – or leisure travel at all.

    Much to the contrary, people who are affected the most are those with loved-ones and strong relationships that languish while the traveler is on the road. Marriages are strained. Friendships unwind. Road-warriors don’t get a choice in where they go, and rarely get to bring their families. By definition, if you’re a loner, you don’t exactly have those strong ties to present “issues”. If anything, the loners I know tend to find quite a bit of satisfaction in travel.

  10. @Mike “I think the simple obvious truth is more that the only persons who like to travel alone are simply “loners” who will have these loner issues regardless of whether traveling or not.”

    What a silly, silly thing to say!! I am exceptionally sociable day-to-day but love to travel on my own so I can do what I like, when I like. I can engage with people as often as I like (or not). I exercise that “choice”. That aside, I can’t help but feel that you think there is something wrong with “loners” much less people who travel alone.

  11. Oh Please. I travel 150,000+ annually and it is NOT for work. My work provides me with the base from which to travel out of interest – I travel because I want to and I do not want to be trapped into a sedentary life in the middle of the boring prairies of Canada. I avail myself ofthe better travel classes and services because….what the hell am I waiting for?

    For those travelling for work….YOU have the choice to make or not make that business trip….quit whining how you are trapped in this lifestyle…..YOU have the choice. Iam tired of hearing these gutless idiots complaining of their busy lives…..if you don’t like it then change it!

  12. He seemed to check his bag cause he was only rolling his briefcase on the plan…surprising to me given his busy travel nature. I haven’t checked in over 10 years = no lost luggage 🙂

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