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The five worst things about business travel – and what do to about them

5 min read

21 November 2015

Despite the widespread use of Skype, virtual teleconferencing and other communications technology, millions of us still travel regularly for work – and many of us hate it.

According to a recent survey by British Airways, the top five dislikes about business travel are: spending time away from family (64 per cent), the long hours (58 per cent), the stress of connecting flights (44 per cent), a lack of internet (24 per cent) and being unable to work (16 per cent).

Here are five other gripes about business travel – and suggestions for overcoming them.

(1) Staying at an anonymous hotel by the airport 

You arrive in a city that you’ve always wanted to visit but realise that you’re stuck in a drab modern hotel by a dual carriageway with the sound of planes circling overhead. You can’t go for a stroll through the old town or visit its famous monuments. The hotel’s restaurant offers burgers, pizza and chicken which means that you won’t even get a chance to sample the local cuisine.

So…book your own hotel. Tell your client or conference organiser that they needn’t bother with booking – thanks very much anyway – you’ll sort it out yourself. You can also then make the most of a hotel loyalty programme.

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(2) Having to eat alone

You arrive in a crowded restaurant and have to utter those damning words: “It’s just for one.” Oh, the shame! You feel the eyes of the romantic couples and jolly tables of four or six looking over at you with pity.

So…be out and proud as a lone diner. You can bet that almost everyone else in those groups has had a similar experience. Look around the room, smile broadly, sit down confidently – and then take our your kindle or your magazine and enjoy a hour of “me time”.

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(3) Sitting in your suit among families on holiday

Business class fares are not an option for all of us sadly – especially if we’re running our own business and watching every penny. Sitting at Gatwick among kids in sweatshirts and reverse baseball caps, while you’re looking at next month’s projected sales figures on your laptop, isn’t much fun.

So…check out some of the low-cost lounge options. For around £20 you can get some peace and quiet – plus a free cappuccino and a bun. Apps such as loungebuddy or Holiday Extras help you to find the best deals.

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(4) Missing family and friends

You’re lying on your bed in an anonymous hotel room and you glance at your watch – back home the family is just about to sit down and have dinner. You can almost smell it. Next to you on the bed is the discarded room service menu. Self-pity wells up inside you.

So…schedule in a Skype or Apple FaceTime session, or just a phone call with the family. With a busy schedule it’s easy to forget this but fixing a definite time to call will make sure that you actually do it.

(5) Having to spend the evening with clients or colleagues when you’d rather be doing something else

The meeting is over, you’ve filled in the evaluation form after a training session or you’ve spent an exhausting day wondering around a supplier’s factory pretending to pay attention – and then comes that fateful question: “Where shall we have dinner tonight?” 

Your heart sinks. The vision of a long bath and a nice quiet dinner with a film or a book that has kept your going for the last four hours cracks and collapses before your eyes.

So…don’t do it. You’ve got work to do or you’ve got a Skype conference with colleagues in the US. Does it sound convincing? Who cares? The others will probably be as relieved as you to cop out. If necessary, suggest you have an early evening drink and then do your own thing.