Most people think business travel is glamorous — exotic places, fine dining, and airline status. On these points, I agree. I’ve been to Sydney, Amsterdam, and Orlando (if you’re a Disney fan, this too is exotic), eaten amazing meals, and taken a few days off to sight see monuments and museums. And, I enjoy aisle seats with my status. But mostly, business travel is lonely.
Last month, I had trips to Wisconsin and Texas. In Wisconsin, I basked in temperatures hovering at zero degrees all week, endured a five hour flight delay in Chicago, and ate comfort food in the office cafeteria (some sort of ham/cheese/potato casserole — but it only cost $2.50). In Texas, I stayed at a hotel on the wrong side of freeway and ate overpriced chain restaurant food.
A typical business trip workday is like any other. I’m on the client site all day (9 AM to 5 PM). But, the evenings are different. After work, I quietly scan missed emails, catch up on work, read, and watch television. The only bright spot is the post-work run.
Being in a new location opens new routes and sights when weather permits. Wisconsin sucked because I was destined to the treadmill. But, Texas offered beautiful 70° temperatures.
On the first evening in Texas, I asked for safe running paths at the hotel front desk and was directed up the street to a stadium parking lot. “Most people run around the stadium.” With few options, I took the advice. After my first lap, I found a cute dirt road lined by large trees. Feeling adventurous, I pursued the beauty. Within yards, I found myself running past chain-linked fences, chained-up dogs, and a teenage couple making out under a tree. It wasn’t a dirt road, but a poorly maintained road. Did I say that stayed on the wrong side of the freeway?
On the second evening, I asked locals at the office about running and was advised to drive to the other side of the freeway. I found a manicured river path, waterfront apartment buildings, and multi-million dollar homes.
Running suppresses the loneliness for a time. So does talking to waiters and waitresses, chatting at the hotel front desk, and calling home. But between 5 PM and sleep time, it’s possible to never speak a word.
But during this trip to Texas, I was invited to dinner at the client’s home. On this night, I entered a beautiful home decorated with classy antique furniture (circa 18th century). There were china cabinets in each room filled with Lennox, Wedgewood, and Waterford pieces. Dinner was authentic Indonesian food with names I can’t remember, but tastes I can. And, the conversation was filled with stories about life’s journeys and adventures. Before I knew it, it was late and time to return to the silence of the hotel. We had talked all evening.
Running keeps me sane on my business trips. But, hospitality brings life (Hebrews 13:2).