“You have to be in Chicago by 8.” “There’s a problem with the subassembly. You need to go.” “They want your help during the audit. Are your shots up to date?” Business travel often disrupts not just your work schedule, but your personal one as well. How do you keep your personal life going when you’re out of town?
Music is a big part of my life. I have played the trumpet since high school. Wailing away on a jazz or even a classical piece has long been my antidote to work pressure. So here’s one of the things I do: pack my trumpet. Long ago, when I told my trumpet teacher that my new job was going to take me out of town, so I couldn’t practice, he said, “Nonsense. I practice in hotel rooms all the time.” He had me stuff rags into a trumpet mute and play into an overcoat. I was also careful to practice only when most people would be at dinner.
Later, when I rented a car, I would park in the far corner of the lot and play along with a CD. Yes, I got some funny looks, but it was worth it. I could play the fun stuff, instead of just practicing.
Now, technology has replaced the rags, mute and funny looks. I use the Silent Brass system, which not only deadens the sound, but connects to a CD on my laptop, so I’m playing jazz with Miles Davis or Duke Ellington and nobody else hears a sound. It all comes through my headphones.
One Night Out
It was so easy to get stuck in the rut of hotel breakfast, work, fast food lunch, work, restaurant dinner, work, sleep and repeat. The hotel workout room provided some relief, but I found I needed something more. Now, I promise myself that I will have at least one night out every time I travel, and I plan for it in advance. I look for live theatre, professional when possible, but I don’t overlook amateur productions. I search my network to see if anyone knows anyone at my destination. Many clubs, like Toastmasters and Rotary, welcome visiting members to their meetings. I have even used the time to attend professional development sessions with the Project Management Institute. Of course, you can also ask the local people you’re working with what they do for fun.
What do you take on the road with you? What keeps your energy level up when you travel? Molly and I want Travel Whisperers to be about a lot more than just relaxation recordings. We want it to be a place where people share ideas and experiences. Travel, particularly business travel, is often lonely, but it doesn’t have to be, not when you’re sharing the road with others who understand.