Business Travel Is…

Let’s not be passing this guy on the right.

Norm declared a mid-summer break from Thursday Doors, so there’s no link up today, as he and the little blue frog take some time to recharge. He said we can still post door photos, but Thursday Doors without Norm is kinda like Cheers without Norm. I can’t do it.

A lot of my recent doors posts have included doors collected while I’ve been traveling for business. Some people have suggested that it must be a pretty good deal, to be able to travel, and I can’t disagree…entirely. Most of my travel during the last six years has been by car or by rail, and I don’t mind either. In fact, as many of you are aware, I love traveling by rail. I’m not sure I ever enjoyed flying, but I enjoy it less and less every year.

I thought I’d share a short list of opinions and observations regarding business travel. I will carry these into retirement, when all my travel will be on me.

Flying – There really isn’t anything good about flying, other than – if everything goes according to plan – it’s faster:

Check-in – I get to the airport with plenty of time to spare (some people would say too much). My goal is to reduce the stress involved with travel. Sitting at home, waiting to leave. Worrying about traffic. Worrying about what the line might look like – nope, not for me. I get to the airport about 2 hours before my flight. If all goes well, I settle in to a seat with an outlet, plug in, sip my coffee and read your blogs. If everything goes to hell in a handbasket, I’m fine.

TSA Pre – If you don’t have it, you should get it. It costs $75 and it’s good for 5 years. It’s the best $15 you will spend this year, and next, next, etc. It’s worth it, if for no other reason than not having to take off your shoes and belt and being able to leave your laptop and three-bottle deal in the bag.

Comfort Seats – If you can afford a better class of airplane seat, I’d recommend it, especially if you’re tall. I normally fly Delta and I normally choose Economy Comfort. A little extra leg room. Earlier boarding. Reserved space in the overhead bins and a beer or two, although I usually don’t partake. In other words, I’m paying extra for the seats I used to have in Coach. On the other hand, I’ve flown Business Class and even the rare 1st Class. Unless it’s some kind of upgrade or I’m flying more than 8 hours, they aren’t worth the extra cost – IMO.

Hotel – I am not a seek-out-the-cheapest-hotel-near-my-destination kind of traveler. I tend to stay in Marriott properties, and I book through their website. There is a difference in the quality of service you get when things go wrong, if you’re a loyal (rewards program) customer booking direct with the brand, than if you’re coming in through JoeTheTravelWizard.com.

Reward Program – If you travel more than once or twice a year, pick a brand, join the program, get the credit card and stay. Sure, you can do the math and tell me “it’s cheaper if I use blahBlah.com” but I’m not listening. Trust me, the moment you realize you have a couple of free nights (yes, nothing is ever free, I know that) you will be happy. Reaching a level that includes perks like early check-in, late-checkout, lounge access and free Internet (in the hotels that still charge for it) is icing on the cake.

Quality – I have had coworkers who make fun of me for staying in a Courtyard or, God forbid, a Fairfield Inn. I say, buy what you need. I usually need a bed, a shower and an Internet connection, and all three should be clean.

Of course, things go wrong. I’ve written about things that have gone wrong while flying, here, here, here, and here. I haven’t written about things going wrong in hotels, because things usually don’t. This week, they did. I was in a hotel outside of Boston, and four things went wrong. The hotel’s AC system was failing to keep the lobby (where my meetings were) or my room anywhere close to cool. On the second day, a pipe burst, and we were without water. On both days, I had an Internet connection in my room, but I could not add my iPhone or my iPad to it. The morning I was checking out, there was no hot water. Fortunately, my wife had suggested that I shower before going to bed. The management worked hard to fix or make-up for everything. They were nice. They were sympathetic. They were as responsive as they could be. I have stayed in this hotel over 20 times, I won’t hesitate to stay there again.


74 thoughts on “Business Travel Is…

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  1. Dan,

    I can so relate to everything in this post!

    AIr travel has to have been invented as a social experiment – there is no other logical explanation to why we spend highly stressful hours undergoing the “Hurry up and wait” treatment! Of course living as I do in a country that is an island Air travel is a must for many business trips. When it is family travel we nearly always take the ferry, much more relaxed.

    I’m intrigued by TSA Pre – that is not something we have in Europe to my knowledge.

    Les

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Les. I wasn’t sure if many regular travelers would agree. I seem to travel a lot, but I have friends who are in the air and in the road much more often. I have come to believe that we have to work to remove stress.

      I have only taken a passenger ferry a few time in my life. It was a novelty for me, but I enjoyed it.

      Like

  2. I agree with your comments, Dan, about loyalty programs. For me it is Marriott and United. They tend to be a little more helpful if you have some status (though I don’t travel quite enough to get the bigger perks).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mike. I don’t fly enough to have status with Delta, but using their credit card gets me a free bag often enough that it pays for itself. Plus a little help in the boarding line. It all adds up.

      I have always liked Marriott, as far back as the 80s.

      Like

      1. I am only Silver in United, but that gets me into group 2 for boarding vice group 5 and if there are seats available in Economy Plus, I can upgrade for free within 24 hours of departure. That’s a big bonus for transatlantic flights.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is a nice bonus. I pay for Delta’s Comfort Economy. It seems ridiculous to have to pay for adequate legroom, but I just suck it up and do it. My boss, who is 6′ 5″ said “if you’re over 6′ tall, you can buy the legroom” so I get todo it when I fly for business.

          Like

    1. When traveling for work, you really don’t have the luxury of saying, “I’ll take ‘x’ even though it’s slower.” I was OK taking a train to DC, because it was always for multiple days, and even if I flew, I’d have to be there the night before and I wouldn’t be able to leave until the day after (the meetings ended with a dinner on the last night). If it was for one day or if the last day was ending early, I would have had to fly.

      NORRRRRRRM!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to stop laughing from the video so I can comment. I loved that show. :-) Yes, airline travel is not fun, but TSA pre approval is almost a necessity if you want to survive it. The last couple of times we flew to Europe, we paid for the extra legroom, and it was worth every single penny. A hotel having a water problem is not a good thing, but arriving home to loved ones is always a good thing. And, those fish tacos with a cold Corona and lime made me hungry just looking at them. :-) I’m thinking you may not get much work done on the project this weekend based upon the weather but, hopefully, you get some breaks in the rain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That video cracked me up, Judy. That show had some wonderful characters. Those fish tacos are the best. If you’re ever in the ares (Exit 33-B on 95/128) stop in. Make sure they have water and AC though ;-)

      TSA Pre, has made a world of improvement in that awful process. TSA is burden #1 – then, if we take off anywhere close to on-time, I start to relax.

      The dumpster arrives tomorrow. If I have nice enough weather, I’ll start stripping shingles. If not, I guess I’ll work at home.

      Thanks for stopping by and for the comment – have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loyalty is a concept that may be going out of fashion, but not for me! I like being treated well and that is what you get by being loyal. You get what you paid for when you go cheap.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend to be loyal anyway, but the programs do help. The Marriott credit card gives you one free night (in a lower end hotel) each year, so, if you travel, it pays for itself. I wouldn’t switch hotels or airlines in order to get points, but when the brand I like is offering a reward, I’m all in.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been toying with getting the TSA Pre-check, but have yet to follow through. The thing is, I usually get sent through it anyhow when I fly. Being a harmless woman of a certain age & all. I like Marriott properties, too. We’ve stayed in lots of them– 99% have been a-okay by me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took me a long time to get the PreCheck application done. I kicked myself afterwards, it was so painless and took about 15 minutes. Sometimes, at BDL, the TSAPre line is longer than the regular line, but it’s when the regular line is halfway across the airport that I’m glad I did it.

      I have had to stay at Hyatt for business meetings, at least once a year. They are nice properties, but I honestly feel Marriott staff take better care of me. It might only be perception, but…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooo… one look at those fish tacos and I was instantly hungry. I haven’t seen them like that. I haven’t seen hotel doors that would open with the phone either — didn’t even know about that! Although, it’s no surprise that I wouldn’t know that.
    I’m with you about the sitting at home and waiting. Can’t deal with it.
    Have a thriving Thursday, Dan! I will try because no meetings today. (Had to sit and listen to all the team brag about their resumes, “accomplishments”, and retired military rank way too much yesterday. (Insert green gagging emoji here.) Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you can hold off the meeting monster until the weekend, Teagan. And I hope it’s wonderful one!

      Those fish tacos, not to make you hungrier, have the fish resting on a bed of crunchy cole slaw.

      Opening the door with you phone is cool, but when you’re carrying a coffee, it’s easier with the key card.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That video was a riot! I always have to laugh at one show: “Hey, Norm. What’s shaking?” “Two chins and a couple of cheeks.” Still cracks me up.
    Why do those locks assume you have an iPhone? I don’t. Guess I get to use the key card.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I almost included that Norm greeting, Lois. I also like the one where Sam asks “how’s life treating you?” and Norm replies “Like I just ran over its dog.”

      I think the locks work with any smart phone that has bluetooth or NFC capabilities. I also asked for a key card, because it’s much easier to do that than manipulate the phone screens when you’re carrying coffee and a roll.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I sprang for Global Access this year which, for $15 more ($100), includes TSA-Pre as well as expedited return to the US from abroad. Well worth it, I think, although I haven’t been overseas (or over a border) yet to test that part. You and I have had the airlines discussion before and my loyalty goes to Southwest. I’ve never had a bad experience there yet, although no company is perfect. I can also transfer points from our Chase Sapphire Preferred card directly to them, which has saved me hundreds or even several thousands of dollars since we’ve had it.

    I love that sign on the back of the truck in your first photo!!!!!!!

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet. I like Southwest, but I have had problems, twice, that cost me a lot of money to work around, so I have been avoiding them lately.

      I think the point is to pick brands that work for you and, within reason, stick with them. Nobody really gives customers and leverage, but you have a fighting chance if you can show that you’re doing your part to have a loyal relationship.

      That truck sign certainly made me think twice.

      Like

  9. Excellent suggestions. I love TSA Pre and trust the Marriott hotels. I’m unfamiliar with Delta’s economy comfort, but now I will definitely try it. Thanks, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t fly often, but a couple of years ago He-Man and I both signed up for TSA Pre. It’s the best thing we did for our flying travel! We’ve encouraged our children to get it too. Big Baby Boy has, and Baby Girl who is doing a lot of work traveling right now is going to. Why she doesn’t get it going is beyond us. Especially since her last three trips flights have delayed, or cancelled, she’s had to be rerouted causing long layovers, and one of those times she was so late arriving her hotel didn’t save her room. They did shuttle her and other people over to a sister site to their credit.

    We usually splurge for early boarding. I’m usually carrying camera gear and want to ensure I have an overhead bin above me for that bag. It’s worth every penny for both TSA Pre, and the early boarding.

    Not having running water has to be the worst thing happen to a hotel full of guest! Glad you survived that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our daughter doesn’t fly often, but I’ve encouraged her to get TSA Pre. It’s a simple process, and, when you need it, it’s really worth it.

      The economy Comfort seats include early boarding. If I’m flying on SouthWest, I buy it. Knowing I’ll be able to stick my backpack up above and actually put my legs in the legroom I bought.

      The time without running water was the worst time ever in a hotel.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Seems to me if you have time to print and distribute signs about the water being off you should be working harder to get it back on. Excellent post. Took me back to my road warrior days when I gave a crap about all the stuff you give a crap about now. Thanks for the fun, Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – thanks for not rubbing your retired, feet-up-looking-at-the-beach status in my face ;-)

      Apparently, the delay was caused by the fact that a part that broke had to be flown in from who knows where. The part arrived at 4:15 and the water was flowing again by 4:45. It’s hard to complain (but I did) but some things just drive you crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I still get some benefit from AMEX, but the best performing program for me is Marriott. Granted, the benefit is in the form of more travel, but I’ve managed to get some nice deals out of that.

      Flying ??? There just isn’t an upside to that any more.

      Thanks!

      Like

  12. That steel beam moving down the road is scary. Wouldn’t want to pass it. Consider putting something like that up in your garage. You will never think twice again about storing things in the attic, even old diesel motors. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 30 some years ago, a much smaller, albeit still large I-beam fell off a truck and bounced end over end toward my wife’s car. She swerved in time to have it not hit the front, but it tore a hole in the sidewall of the driver’s side rear tire. A State Police officer found it (another car had hit it on the highway) took all the numbers and moved it out of the way.

      He wrote that up as “Vehicle vs. Object” and he quipped “Objects always win” to me as he completed the accident report.

      She no longer drives on the highway.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Dan, I’m with you at airports 2 hours before flight time, in the TSA Pre-check line, and in Economy Comfort (Delta & Alaska). Add loyalty programs & preferred hotels too!! Personal travel only! Agree on rail travel, Amtrak (US) and Bullet train (Japan). Traveled by rail in Greece too. Picture Greek families spreading out food for long trips and inviting us foreigners to join them! An adventure to remember! Love the back of the truck sign, and Maddie’s pic, of course made me smile. 📚 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Christine – I definitely feel I’m in the great minds think alike category here. I’m drooling a bit over Greek food – I may have to find some soon.

      Maddie gets mad at me when I travel, but she’s quick to forgive me when I return.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Dan – I’m sure you’re right … and I try and follow what you’re suggesting even though I don’t travel for business … I like ease of life. I was impressed with Vancouver’s transit systems … here on the island without your beloved railway … travelling by car and bus are the only ways … well taxi et al … however being home with Maddie would be the best! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hilary. I remember using public transit in Vancouver when I was there a long time ago. Cities that have good mass transit are the best places to visit.

      As I just told Christine, Maddie gets mad when I travel, but is quick to forgive.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t know which had me laughing harder, the back of that truck or the video clip.

    Unlike you and your readers, I am not a traveler. I know, I’m the oddball! I do love to see all parts of the world, but from the comfort of my recliner!! So I hope all the wonderful bloggers I follow continue to travel, a lot, and don’t mind me and my chair coming along….sorta!!

    Maddie seems so relieved to have you back home. Sprawled out on her blanket, I think in her dream she’s saying, “I’m so glad he’s home. Now I can finally relax and catch up on much needed sleep.” I’m sure MiMi didn’t know you were even gone! Lol.

    Hope weather cooperates this weekend and you’re able to continue your DIY project.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. Maddie gets mad when I leave, but she’s always happy when I return. It’s just been lately that, when I’m working at home, she stays on the bed for hours on end. I don’t get to work at home very often, but she seems to like it.

      I’m looking forward to traveling much less in the future.

      The weather looks like it’s going to treat me badly this weekend. Thanks for the good wishes.

      Like

  16. When we retired and looked forward to traveling (but not flying) we took the time to get our Global Entry clearances. It comes with TSA Pre-check and makes going through customs a cakewalk. It helps ease the pain a bit.

    Those fish tacos are gorgeous! I come from the land of fish tacos and have seldom seen such big ones. And fruit salsa… yum!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. The fish pieces rest on a bed of crisp cole slaw. The mango salsa is not something I’d normally like, but it’s very good.

      I don’t think I’ll be traveling overseas, so I opted for TSA Pre. I could get that right here at BDL, Global Entry requires a trip to Boston.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Ahaha! That IS the best one! I can’t do doors without Norm, either. I’m doin shallow fashion crap for these two Thursdays.
    I want the fish tacos. Man oh man, that sounds good. I ate healthy, healthy food all day. I could go for some fish tacos! Ay yi yi!
    Good tips for the travelers. I basically drive and stay with friends. It’s where I am in life right now. I haven’t flown post-911. I almost did, but then he came home :) I will someday, when I’m in a different place in life again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to fly a month after 9-11. My wife was very nervous. I was going to Tampa for a conference. I called her from the gate and told her I was just about the only person on the flight under 75. I said “I think I can take ’em all, if I have to.”

      Choosing one Norm entrance was very hard.

      I tend to avoid healthy food when I travel. Dining has to make up for everything that is normal that I’m missing, so I don’t pay much attention to calories.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw, that’s great comforting commentary to a wife in such trying times! And funny, too! Love it!
        You won’t believe this, but Benson posted his food blog today, and he went to a place right around the bend, where they have… FISH TACOS! :P Tomorrow night, oh, it’s on!

        I agree with your decision. No lovely wife, or yummy wife food, no furbabies, no your own bed — definitely the time to eat your feelings! :)

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Agreed on all counts for travel, Dan. Too funny, the note with the water bottle. A hotel stay without water? 😱Good you got to work from home this week…under Maddie’s direct supervision, of course. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Super post, Dan. I had to nod and agree with everything, especially what you followed in a car. I’m so glad Maddie could help you out while you worked. Must have been the pink blanket.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Funny to read your unusual Thursday post since my husband travels in the same fashion :)
    And yes, things happen in the best places, even when we are well prepared. Most hotels, especially if you’re a loyal customer, will do whatever they can to ease the trouble. The most annoying in my opinion remains noise. Whether because the hotel has turned into the new place to have your family reunion or sales meetings or simply because you’re unlucky to share the floor or just be next-door neighbor with unconsiderate people, noise is a pain. And some hotels listen to you concern when you mention it. We’ve been once offered a free night after a particular raucous night, due to a large sport event.
    That said traveling is certainly less stressful when it’s for fun and not business.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ve been in every imaginable situation. The worst was when I was in the Marriott World Trade Center (the one that was destroyed). You could hear the trains (PATH) even on a high floor, and I was there during a cheerleader contest and the hotel was filled with young girls screaming, laughing, singing – all night long.

      The hotel was very good to me, in trying to make up for the inconvenience. I will definitely stay there again.

      Like

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