The Elegance of Travel

As the leader of your organization it is your responsibility to be both visible to the team, and to be where you are needed. This will necessitate travel. In some situations, a significant amount of travel. Do not delegate it. Get the ticket. Get on the plane and go.

Many people consider the concept of travel to be elegant. They associate it with the way it is portrayed on TV. I guess it depends on what your definition of “elegant” is.

Most of the time you will be leaving later in the day (so that you can get at least some work done earlier in the day). You will be arriving at your destination later in the day / evening (if you are traveling domestically. If you are travelling internationally there is no telling when you will be arriving).

You will travel on what amounts to a glorified bus with wings, except that it will be more cramped than a bus, with less leg room. There will be only stale, recycled air to breathe and no place to put your luggage. You will strive to get to the front of the line to board so that there may be room for your carry on bag because you don’t want to take the risk of losing you bag should you be forced to check it.

You will rent a small car, at night in an unfamiliar town. You will not be allowed to rent a
GPS system due to cost saving measures by your company. You will then try and locate an unknown hotel, in the dark, based on directions given to you by the stranger behind the car rental counter. Since this is the only map and directions you have, you will trust them implicitly.

Once you find the hotel, in the dark, you will rent a room. There are two types of rooms at hotels; Non-Smoking, and those that are uninhabitable. Hopefully you will have reserved the correct one. You will then hang up your clothes for the next days meeting and put your toiletries in the bathroom.

Here is where the “elegance” will come in. You will most likely order Room Service for dinner and start scanning the channels on the TV for anything of possible interest.

You will eat hotel food for dinner. You will sleep poorly in a strange bed. You will get up, eat (again, hotel food), rely on the directions from the stranger behind the hotel desk on how to get to your destination (hopefully on time), and try to navigate the rush hour in a strange town, amongst the friendly people on the road who have little to no time for people who do not know where they are going.

You will have your meeting.

You will then hurry back to the airport to try and return the car, get through security and get on your glorified bus in record time so that you can get home before
midnight so that you can get a few hours of sleep before your 8:00 meeting the next morning in your office.

Conference calls are good, but they are sometimes not a substitute for “being there”. It is your responsibility. Pack up and go.

And just smile and nod when someone reminds you about how much fun, and how elegant travel is.