Tuesday, August 23, 2005

When Business Travel Was Fun

Jim has a post that many of us professionals can relate to: how back in the salad days of our youth business travel was fun and exciting, but now that we are getting old and crotchety the object of business travel is to get it over as quickly as possible.

I saw this well known youth/travelphilia connection exploited by a senior manager when I was at TI. He would make sure to hire into his group every year at least one raw college grad (and TI hired a lot of them). Then when some trade show, customer visit, or other travel would come up, he would saunter over to me the new guy, and ask him if he would like to go to DFW, BOS, SJC, SLC, SEA, or anywhere in between, which the 22 year-old would pounce on like a dog on a bone. Afterwards the old guy would have a smirk on his face, mentally congratulating himself for suckering someone else to take his trip for him.

Not that the 22 year old ever minded. It meant a company paid trip to a new city, a chance to take in sites, visit some bars, maybe pick up some chicks away from home. It was exciting and glamorous.

I feel pretty much like the old TI manager these days when it comes to domestic travel - I have seen pretty much every city worth seeing in North America. But I still have a little of the 22 year old in me when it comes to international travel. Take Japan. Even after being there over two dozen times, I still find Japan cool. I go every chance I can. Taiwan I could do without, but it is the price I have to pay to go to Japan (most SE Asia trips require the full Japan-Korea-Taiwan triad to get as much done as possible while on that side of the Pacific). Korea really grew on me in the last couple of years, but not to the extent of Japan. China? Every time I go back it is a different experience since it changes so much. And I still haven't gotten to the major tourist sites there, except Hong Kong, which is just...incredible. I would go back to HK in a heartbeat.

And Europe? I actually like going there on business. The people there don't really work, so I don't either when I go. I do what my customers and clients do: I spend my time in coffee shops, beer gardens and fine restaurants eating and drinking. What's not to like about a trip like that? The one problem with European business trips is that if I don't manage to take Mrs. Director along with me there is hell to pay.

Which brings me to a possible overseas business trip for me in a region that is not Europe. Or southeast Asia. Or Australia. Or South America. And it is a trip I am not sure how I feel about - fun or...dangerous. More on this when it looks like I will go for sure.

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