During my status run to Hong Kong, I took stock of all of the traveling I have been doing for both leisure and business. In a moment of clarity at the end of my trip, the toll travel can take became clear. The life of a Road Warrior is not easy, something that became clear from the lounge of my hotel.
- Mileage Running May Be Dead, Status Running Still Alive
- United’s Polaris Lounge San Francisco
- Polaris Business Class Service San Francisco to Hong Kong
- Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui – Suite
- Hyatt Regency Sha Tin – Suite
- Shenzhen Day Trip
- Shenzhen Electronics Market
- Too Much Traveling
- Singapore’s Bad Hong Kong lounge
- ANA Business Class Hong Kong Tokyo
- ANA Haneda Lounge Review
- ANA Business Class Tokyo-Haneda to Chicago O’Hare
What They Were Talking About
When tried and tested road warriors talked about earning 90,000 elite-qualifying miles in a year, just short of the required 100,000 to cross into most top-tier thresholds, I looked back at them with wonder.
“If I was that close I would just do a quick status run and come right back.” I’d say, trying to hide my look of utter shock and bewilderment.
“I am on the road so much that I just don’t have the time or the want to do it.” They’d say back.
The first few times this exchange happened – and it’s taken place many, many times over the years – I would carry on with how they could just run to Europe for a day and come right back, maybe even on the same aircraft’s return flight. A couple of hundred dollars and a day of their time was separating them from endless upgrades and more mileage earning. The polite ones would entertain the idea in my presence, the uninformed might actually do it, but the honest ones would just defend their position until one of us lied and agreed with the other.
But now I get it.
Past Trips and Future Plans
My family has been on the road a lot this year. Sometimes together, sometimes apart. Thinking back on the trips we have taken together, we have spent a lot of time with each other this year. But as I return from a long distance status run to Hong Kong that seemed more like a trip to the moon than to my favorite city in Asia, I can’t quite take a deep breath.
Even when I am home, I have a work trip calling me away three days after I return. Then the following week a trip to Charlotte, then another with family after that for a long weekend, then another, then more work trips… pretty soon the calendar starts to feel heavy.
It feels so heavy in fact, that both my wife and I genuinely contemplated the pair of them flying along for one of my business trips (obviously they would be at the hotel while I am occupied with clients) at a staggering cost of $545. Each way. On Southwest no less.
Travel Should Be Fun
Since I was a child I have always loved flying and as an adult, it really hasn’t changed. The toys are different now but it’s still the same hobby. Work trips aren’t supposed to be fun anyway, and that’s, I guess, a fair enough conclusion though I don’t entirely subscribe to such a theory.
Regardless, it’s not fun right now.
My wife and I are approaching ten years married, a tremendous feat considering the stress we have put on our relationship over the years. We moved to England four days after being married, packing only in a couple of suitcases. We lived in a hotel, a terrible hotel, for several weeks until we found our way with no support from the corporation that employed me (clearly I am not still bitter a decade later).
We headed back on our own after two years in Manchester, my wife returning six weeks ahead of me to get an apartment and set up our home while I completed my commitment. We would move back to Manchester again ten months later (in suitcases) and not quite a year after that to Thailand, though that time we sent most of our belongings back to the states. After another six months, we returned to the states and spent a year in a borderline rough network living with my brother (none of us knew at the time the neighborhood was so bad) before buying our first home and traveling with our daughter Lucy.
Then, in the last two years work has taken me from locally based to nationally-focused which requires much more time away from home more than ever before. Add in our personal travel, a downturn in my industry of 85% in the course of one year and living away from extended family and friends and pretty quickly you can see why it has been a lot of stress on us.
Traveling separately only further exacerbates that. On my recent run to Hong Kong, a city we both love, she viewed it as a holiday and not a nocturnal experience of a mal-adjusted body clock. Likewise, she went to our hometown so I saw it only in the lens of seeing family and friends and eating at our favorite restaurants instead of the stress of traveling alone with a four-year-old and the frustrations that come with trying to satisfy everyone, an impossible task. Neither of us is signing up to repeat the last week any time soon.
What Will We Do About It?
It’s time to really prioritize our time. Instead of trying to save my company another $50 by taking a later flight and hoping for standby, I am going to be a little firmer about my need to be home more. We need to be more deliberate generally in our travel plans and consider reducing some of our personal travel load. We wanted to make this year a Bucket List year and that plan should also be scaled back somewhere we can.
We also need to do a better job of reminding ourselves of the other’s challenges when we are apart. Not every night is a steak dinner with clients in a nice hotel. Likewise, for my wife and daughter, it’s not as though they eat takeout and watch movies while I am gone.
Traveling as much as we do is hard, but we can do something about it. We can slow our planning, calm it down a little and try to adapt. While we probably won’t buy my wife a Southwest ticket for $1100 roundtrip (even though she has companion pass) for a two-day business trip, we might find other opportunities to spend more time together even when I absolutely have to travel and use our points to accomplish those goals even though it may not be the best absolute value.
Our marriage is valuable, reading a story to my daughter at night is valuable and it’s time to start putting our money where our mouth(s) is(are).