Traveling a lot for work recently has provided me with some unique opportunities to observe people. There are lots of stories and jokes and stereotypical characteristics about road warriors – people who travel a lot on business – and I expected to run into a lot of confirming examples. But what I’ve discovered is the few are creating an image to the detriment of the many. Here are 5 debunked myths about road warriors that may surprise you:
1. They enjoy freedom from the office while on the road. Quite the contrary, 80% to 90% of all the business travelers I see are working while traveling. They are talking quietly on the phone with conference calls while waiting in the airport, they pull out their laptops or tablets and start working as soon as we hit 10,000 feet in the air. Most business travelers are quite literally tethered to their offices and they don’t waste time hanging out or lolly gagging around. They are working.
2. They enjoy chatting about where they’ve been and how important they are at work. OK, so there are a few braggarts running around out there, but most of this behavior is seen only in the movies. Sure, rookies may fall into this trap for a little while but the vast majority of business travelers keep to themselves and work. The bad mannered folks fluffing their plumage at anyone who will listen are few and far between. You could be sitting next to a CEO or an Entrepreneur who makes 7 figures and you probably won’t know it. I really believe most business travelers see travel time as their own time to work and think with minimal interruptions.
3. They are rude. We’ve all heard the stories. I’ve witnessed a few business folks behaving in ways that would embarrass the crud out of their mothers, but on the whole the vast majority of business travelers I’ve seen recently have been considerate of the people around them. They talk in low voices while on the phone, they follow the FAA rules about electronic equipment usage, they patiently wait in line for the family with 3 kids, 7 bottles of water, 6 roller bags and a stroller to clear security. They don’t usually push and shove to get in or out of a line. And they don’t demand special attention from gate agents, flight attendants, hotel staff, or drivers. The rudest travelers I’ve observed lately have been folks on vacation.
4. They get to eat in fancy restaurants every night. I suppose some could afford it, but the reality is the fancy restaurants are an exception for the practiced business traveler. The rookies may try this for a while, but they learn pretty quickly that fancy meals and late nights make working on the road miserable. Most business travelers eat at the hotel where they are staying or a local take out. They are focused on getting something to eat, getting work prepared for the next day and getting some sleep. People who don’t travel a lot find it hard to believe but when you are on the road what you get hungry for is a simple meal like you can easily fix at home.
5. Business travel is glamorous. Yes, there are perks like frequent flyer miles and hotel points. But business travel is a lot about waiting to get where you are going, fitting in as much business as you can while you are there, and then going home. Its airports and hotels and offices and meetings. There’s very rarely time for sightseeing. Most experienced business travelers treat the travel as a normal part of their day – just a long commute. Interestingly, I think business travelers tend to be more focused on getting the job done while they are traveling so that they can relax when they go home.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate exec, your ability to expand your impact in the world is enhanced by business travel. It’s nice to know that most of the fellow travelers you’ll meet on the road are just regular people focused on doing a good job. Sure, there will be the occasional twit and some pretty funny stories to share, but most of it is routine as you join the ranks of the polite, yet focused business travelers.