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Life Of The Traveling Salesman

February 2010

I work in sales for IBM and my territory is North America. So as you might imagine, I travel a fair amount. As I write this, I'm in a hotel room in Westborough, MA.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like traveling frequently? I think some people think it would be glamorous to travel frequently. Other probably just have no idea what goes into it. If you have travel for business, then you can identify with much of what I'm writing about.

Travel Arrangements
First of all, you have to make the arrangements. I suppose some folks have admin assistants that make their travel arrangements, but I don't. I do have a travel Web site that IBM provides that lets me enter where I want to travel to and from and what dates, and times and it will show me what flights are available and approved by IBM. You see we have to use certain flights based on fares that IBM has negotiated. Anyway, I suppose this is easier than having to do it on your own, but also more constrained by the IBM rules.

The first step in traveling is packing. I have to remember to take my medicine - I'm on three different meds and if I would happen to forget the asthma medicine, I'd have a very difficult time breathing the next morning. If by accident put my pocket knife in my pocket, I'll lose it when I go through security at the airport (has happened twice now - I keep my pocket knife and change together and just through them in my pocket every morning, except when I'm flying.). I also have to remember to not put the big tube of toothpaste or the can of shaving cream in my shaving kit if I'm flying. Wouldn't want to risk blowing up any planes with those!

In my case, I have an hour drive to an airport. I can drive to Columbus, Cleveland or Akron airports in about an hour. So I have choices, but I also have an hour drive to get there and an hour drive when I get home, sometimes late at night after a long day of work and travel.

Getting stranded because of a flight cancellation is fairly rare but it does happen. And when it happens its a pain in the neck. If the cancellation is due to a mechanical problem (and the airline is willing to admit it) they will give you a room and meal allowance so while its inconvenient, its not uncomfortable. But it can happen that you wind up staying in the airport for a long time, even overnight. Then its not only inconvenient but uncomfortable too.

Once I've arrived at my destination, I get the rental car (usually simple but once in a while there's a complication, like this last time when they gave me a Toyota Prius - I have not interest in driving one of those things so I went back to the Hertz counter and got a different car).

Staying In Hotels
Sometime I have a very short time in the hotel - arrive late at night and leave early in the morning for a meeting. Once in a while, I have a lot of time in a hotel room. As I'm writing this, I have all day until a meeting at 3PM. I had a meeting until 3PM yesterday, then drove to the hotel, checked in at about 4:30 and stayed overnight and don't have another meeting until 3PM today. Then I drive back to Manchester, NH and stay overnight for a flight at 9:30 the next morning. So, lots of time in hotel rooms.

I try to get to the hotel before it gets too late. I don't like to have to check in and go right to bed. I'd rather have some time to unwind a little bit, check my e-mail, maybe even get some work done (all my work is done on my PC) and then go to bed. Not infrequently, I have dinner then go back to the room and have my coffee and cookies. I like to have coffee and cookies or some sweet after dinner. So if I can work that into my hotel stay, it makes my life a little more "normal." You look for those kinds of things to make life on the road a little more "normal."