Making the Most of Traveling for Work
In the 2009 movie Up in the Air, George Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, works for a career transition company specializing in corporate downsizing. He spends 320 days a year flying around the country, essentially to fire people. In doing so, he becomes quite proficient at the ins and outs of airports and traveling, while becoming detached from his immediate family and other relationships. On the side, he also is invited by groups to provide motivational speeches on how to live without excess baggage and attachments in one’s life.
With cases in numerous jurisdictions, I spend time each month driving on the road or flying in the air, Ryan Bingham-style, all over the country. A couple of months ago, I had work obligations in Rochester, New York; Plainsboro, Parsippany, Bloomfield and Edison, New Jersey; Timonium, Maryland; Hartford, Connecticut; and Chicago, Illinois. Oh, I did work in Philadelphia too.
Nevertheless, traveling quite a bit for work can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation touched on in Up in the Air. Yeah, sometimes, it’s tough to travel, with the hassles of airport delays (had a good weather-related delay today at Philadelphia International; God bless the airport’s new free WiFi service), highway traffic, early morning wake-ups and general schedule disruptions. And is it really fun to travel to Parsippany, New Jersey and Timonium, Maryland (you can guess the answer to that)?
Still, there are many ways to make the most of it during your travel commitments. If you’re gonna endure airport security lines and endless tolls on the Garden State Parkway, you might as well enjoy yourself or benefit somehow from it. Here’s just a sample of suggestions:
- Rack up those frequent flyer miles – Through his travels, the Ryan Bingham character racked up literally millions of frequent flyer miles. It wasn’t even to use them (as he was traveling for work, he didn’t need to). It was just to accumulate them and reach a certain goal attained only by very few others. Well, you’re never going to get 5 million miles, but you can certainly get frequent flyer miles on most of the major airlines during your trips. Obviously, you get credit for your airline’s program when you fly. But did you know that if you sign up for free for the miles programs at U.S. Airways, American Airlines or other programs, you can book hotels and rental cars through their websites and get miles credits for them as well? And as far as actually accumulating enough miles to use, you can usually get round trip flights for about 25,000 miles.
- Take in the sights – You have a trip to Chicago or Florida. Do you set up the flight to depart right after your deposition or meeting? In addition to adding some un-needed stress in case your obligation runs late, doing so deprives you of the chance to see a different area of the country. So long as you can spare some time (it’s not like you’re gonna fly back and go back to the office that day, are you?) and the flight isn’t more expensive, take a later flight and go see the town. Spend like five minutes on the Internet before your trip to see what an area is known for and try to take the time to do so. Heck, you can even sit beach-side and do some work (as I did in Florida last year) if that’s a possibility.
- Eat the region’s food – This suggestion applies to both when you drive or fly for work. Unless you’re in an absolute rush, don’t just simply get food from the hotel or fast food from Roy Rogers (though, I admit that sometimes, the Garden State Parkway rest stop Roy Rogers hits the spot). Either search around for good places to eat, ask the hotel for suggestion (if you’re staying over some place), or, once again, find out online if there are certain must-eats in different areas (even North Jersey!). You’re going to be in Chicago or New Haven? Then go get some incredible pizza, which isn’t that expensive. If you’re gonna spend $7 for lunch somewhere for work, would you rather spend that on a combo meal at McDonald’s or on a South Carolina barbecue sandwich? Yeah, that’s what I thought. And for dinners, even when you’re alone, it’s more than socially acceptable to go to a local restaurant or sports pub to sit at the bar and order food, while entertaining yourself with the television and your smartphone (at least, I convince myself that it’s socially acceptable).
- Catch up on work or reading – During the time you spend on a plane or at a hotel or even just waiting around in general, you can certainly do other work you may have. Hey, you’re probably already getting billing credit for the travel time, so anything else you do is a bonus, right? Of course, there’s ethical gray areas about billing one client for travel and then billing another for doing other work while traveling, but I’m not gonna get into that. If you don’t want to do work, read the latest issue of your periodicals or, my personal favorites, U.S. Airways Magazine and American Way. Those magazines are particularly geared for travelers.
So, traveling can wear you out, and you may feel lonely, but there are many ways to make it fun and beneficial. Now, can someone please tell me how to spend my time here in Jacksonville, Florida?