i’m not sure what city i’ll wake up in on friday
Of all the posts I’ve written, the one that I’ve gotten the most emails, most comments, and most feedback on is the post about business travel. It’s interesting - I’m not a professional business traveler. I’m not a consultant (I’m not sure if those two are synonyms, but I do remember when I was little and someone asked me what my dad did, I told people he was a professional traveler).
Actually, my travel schedule - both business and personal - is the opposite of a consultant’s. It’s really erratic and pretty unpredictable. In the years since college, I’ve started traveling (usually alone, sometimes with friends or coworkers) at least once a month. It’s Wednesday, and I’m still not sure what city I’ll be in at the end of the week.
I think you can tell a lot about a person’s professional personality by the way they handle two things: email and travel. In terms of email, I’m a nazi. Almost nothing stays in my inbox for more than 48 hours - it gets read, sorted, forwarded, or otherwise dealt with. It’s a habit I developed in college, and I’ve found that it’s one of the most effective ways (for me) to get things dealt with.
Travel is a bit more complicated. I think if you travel often, the goal is less to maximize your time and more to make your life feel normal. I have a friend who dealt with a year of constantly being on the road at the age of 18 by playing putt-putt in every city he visited. My boss finds a bar in every airport he goes through. And I take pictures of my feet and read entertaining posts from Penelope’s blog about life-disguised-as-work-advice (which is true even for travel - people are more lost, both literally and figuratively, when their travel plans are their own doing).
I’m pretty sure this is why hotel loyalty programs were invented. Staying at the same hotel, or the same type of hotel, gives us a sense of normalcy. A sense of our stay not being so transient. When Kimpton calls me to greet me by name and give me information on a city two days before I arrive, I feel like someone knows my story and remembers that I was there.
If you look at my DISC profile, most of you could probably guess that I’m a classic “I”. I’m also a high “C”. Meaning, I prefer knowing to not knowing, and (some sort of) structure to waking up in a different city every week. I have to continually find ways to keep myself grounded when I don’t know where I’m going to be.
It’s hard to handle frequent, unpredictable travel with grace (one of the best ways to learn about someone is to travel with them to a place that neither of you have been before). Everyone has their own way of dealing - whether or not they check bags (I always do, even though I make sure it’s small enough to be a carry-on), what airlines and hotels they choose, which airports to connect through. But the more telling aspect of our personalities is how we deal with our bags being misplaced, or an incorrect hotel reservation, or what we do with our spare time in an unfamiliar place. It’s not an easy balance when you’re jet-lagged, drowning in email, and in a city far off the map that you’ve never seen before.