I 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…
I 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.
The 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! 🙂