Sliding into the Wild World of Business Travel

toronto_downtownI know I haven’t been “around” lately and I do apologize for that. My new life as a career person has created the need for re-prioritization of my activities…especially this week. The company I work for is, simply put, a train the trainer company. We train people how to be efficient and effective trainers. My role in the company is sales and customer support and, in order to do that effectively, it was decided that I should take a few of the workshops our company offers. Makes sense. The only workshop that was convenient both time and location-wise was in Toronto soooo this week I slid, head first, into the wild world of business travel for the first time of my life.

A week ago Sunday, I hopped the VIA Ottawa-to-Toronto-milk-run train for the 5 hour ride over hill and dale. For the most part, I don’t mind trains except that the older trains provide no lumbar support in the seats and wow! UNCOMFORTABLE. Also, I ate a ham and cheese sandwich which VIA should have paid me $7 to eat. It was truly the worst sandwich I’ve had since the last time I ate one on a VIA train (probably more than 10 years ago). Aside from those two complaints, the ride went smoothly and I was at Union Station before dark. Not that it really mattered whether it was dark out or not…

torontoI recently discovered that Toronto has a huge population of mutant mole people. They commute between work and transit in a large maze of underground tunnels. I had no idea, as a tourist, that this “underworld” existed but I found out all about it this time around. I was staying at the Sheraton on Queen Street which is accessible from Union Station through these tunnels. Now, lest you are envisioning me clamoring through dark, damp, stone tunnels, I’d better set your mind at ease. It is like walking through a very long mall (30 km to be precise): shiny tile floors, bright lighting, and lined with more stores and cafes than you’ve seen in a month of Sundays. The phenomenon is aptly named “The Path“.

Now, I know that many large cities have something similar so it’s likely not a “new” thing to everyone. Being a hick from Ottawa, though, where we have to bear the brunt of mother nature at every turn, The Path is quite an intriguing experience. I wouldn’t say that I love it, but it was convenient. It was much easier than trying to wheel my suitcase up Bay St. around construction and hoards of people and over all the bumps and cracks in the sidewalk. It was also a great place to grab a meal during our workshop one-hour lunch breaks and, with several Irish pubs sprinkled along The Path, we were able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style.

suite_cotThe worst part of the trip was arriving at the Sheraton and discovering that I didn’t have a room booked. This was likely due to a miscommunication at work, which I’m sure will be ironed out, and really, in the end, was not a big deal. BUT for a first time business traveler, facing a hotel receptionist with the deer-in-the-headlights look, it’s a bit unnerving. Luckily for me, the hotel was very accommodating and, although they were fully booked, they put me in a suite room and I slept on a cot. No…not a cot…a COT with a 12″ mattress.  On Monday morning they got me into a nice cozy room and I enjoyed it for the rest of the week.

Overall, I’d say that business travel would be fun once or twice a year but that’s about it. I suppose if one had to do it all the time, you would get used to all the inconveniences of not being home, but it’s not anything like travelling for fun with your family and friends. In fact, the biggest thing I had trouble with was trying to find the inspiration to eat. I really had no desire to eat alone or to grab yet another tuna wrap from the cafe downstairs. I was happiest, after a day of training, to go back to my room, get into my pj’s and crawl into bed to watch TV.

The nice thing about trying something once is you get to see all the aspects for yourself. You get to make decisions on what you liked and what you didn’t, and, if the opportunity presents itself again, you know how you might handle it differently or what you might keep the same. If I got asked to travel for work again, I’d do it for sure. I love adventure. 🙂

Until next time…tell me about your business travel experiences in the comments! I love a good story! 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Sliding into the Wild World of Business Travel

  1. Nice story of your travels. I too can relate to the business travel routine, once had a job where I was on the road for up to 47 weeks out of the year. That was for 6 years. So I know the down side of all that really is. But sounds as if you do enjoy it (even if just a little). Safe travels 🙂

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    1. Oh Ken, I would not enjoy that at all. That’s too much. Once in a while would be okay but not almost the entire year! Were you going to different places or the same place all the time?

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      1. Izzy, At the time I was in Germany and traveled from NW England to Western Turkey. Most of time was in Germany with several trips to Holland, Belgium and Italy. Had approx. 250 customers so yes some of the trips were repeats. All in all was a good time. But glad to have it behind me and now am at home every evening.

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        1. Wow! That’s some serious moving around!! I’m glad you were able to enjoy it for the most part. I suppose there are pluses and minuses to everything. 🙂

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  2. I have never gone on a business trip. And, quite frankly, while it sounds glamorous (even a trip from Ottawa to Toronto) I know I wouldn’t enjoy it. Good for you, Isobel. Quite an adventure, for sure. I enjoyed reading about your first experience. And, if you need to travel again, perhaps you can find business to be done for your company in the South of France ?!

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    1. Yes, Ingrid. The South of France would be A-OK!! 🙂 No, business travel is not really very glamorous at all but I knew that from talking to others who travel a lot. I think I might enjoy it if I got a little time to explore whatever city I was in, but that, to me, would be the only perk.

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  3. I spent most of my time between 2000-2010 on the road, business travelling. I do miss some elements of that life style but they don’t have much to do with “business” per say. In fact, it was the world of business that I ran away from when I submitted my resignation.
    I miss the ephemeral cities, the cobblestone alleys, the strangers I shared a drink or two with. I miss the late night walks along rivers and canals, the sidewalk cafes and the train rides across Europe.
    Thank you for sharing your first experience, Isobel. You did well and wherever your travels might take you, be safe.

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    1. Abufares, the reasons you listed, the adventures in the cities, would be the one reason I would enjoy business travel. Otherwise, there’s not much allure.

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  4. It sounds like they’ve finished the massive construction work I ran into when travelling to Toronto for business two years ago. I attended a conference at the Sheraton and don’t recall a convenient tunnel from Union Station!

    Another city with an amazing underground network is Montreal. One can walk from the VIA station to restaurants and shops.

    When I travel for business or pleasure, my preference is always the train if presented with that option. I’ll even spend the extra cost to get into Business Class. More room. Nice meals. Less stress. I always make sure I have a hotel room booked though…

    Thanks,

    T

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    1. Yes, I would definitely consider asking for business class if I ever got the opportunity to travel for business again (it’s unlikely but you never know). I have definitely learned my lesson about hotel rooms! 🙂

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  5. Yours was a great rentree to the business world.
    Traveling for pleasure is one thing and another completely different is a business travel. Two different universes! But I think every trip is a lesson for the next one.

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