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INSPIRED BUSINESS TRAVELER

Reading This From the Airport? Or a Hotel? Don't Be So Proud

You may feel like a road warrior. But all that travel comes at a cost. Here's why.
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I'm sure you're proud of your drill: the neatness with which you pack bags, the apps you've downloaded to speed check-in and access lounges, the privileges that make world travel easy, efficient, smooth, comfortable. I bet, like me, you get discounts on movies and drinks. You have gained expertise about where the best rooms are, the room service that tastes like food, the restaurants that are charming and not too far.

It's all very cool but overlooks what really matters. Don't fool yourself; there's a cost to all that travel.

When you are on the road (as I often am), what happens at home? Everyone learns to live without you. They get on with their lives, their schools, their friends, their business. They learn to live as if you didn't matter.

Because you don't.

In your absence, everyone adapts--if you are lucky and have a strong, resilient family. They cope and you want them to cope. You just have to realize: they do so by counting you out.

You call at dinner. It's nice--but an interruption.

You ask about school tests. That's nice, but you haven't been around to help.

You ask about friends. Why don't you remember their names?

You can order them books remotely, add to the NetFlix list, buy souvenirs. But however hard you try, you aren't there. No one cares that your room service is banal or wonderful; they cannot find your choice of pay-per-view movies interesting. Why should they?

The only one who really suffers is you. Everybody else will manage. They always have and always will.

They'll just do it without you. It's your choice. When you ask most road warriors what they care about, most put family at the top of the list. But actions speak louder than words.

Last updated: Jun 20, 2013

MARGARET HEFFERNAN

Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur and author. She has been chief executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation, and iCAST Corporation. In 2014, she published her fourth book, A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition.




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