5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Business Travel

We’ve all had those trips. An important business meeting takes you to a new city, perhaps on your bucket list, and all you see is the airport, skyline and a conference room. Here are some thoughts on how to get the most out of your business trip in 5 popular cities.

  • Take A Train that Feels like a Boat Ride – skip the flight and take the Acela from New York to Boston. The views along the coast are fantastic and the stretch of track along the Connecticut coastline is stunning. The train literally crosses three beaches and there is a section around New London, CT that you will be over so much water, for so long, only a few feet above it, that it feels like you’re on a boat. Do it soon because they’re talking about rerouting the train to increase speed between the cities, that would move it off the shoreline.
  • Balance the Bad with the Good in San Fran – too many trips result in hours of sitting in a windowless room all day eating crappy hotel food. To do that in a city like San Francisco is downright criminal. Here’s how to get the best out of a bad situation. If you can, avoid the conference hotel and book a room at the Harbor Court Hotel or Hotel Vitale on Embarcadero, near the Ferry Building. Counter balance the high calorie, low nutrition hotel food, by going for a run. Start across the street at the Ferry Building and head north to Fisherman’s Wharf, just listen for the harbor seals. Go south (right facing the building) and you can run around AT&T Park. Not a runner? No worries. Connected through a door from Harbor Court is the YMCA with a pool on the second floor, yoga & spin classes, etc. If you stay at the Hotel Vitale, book a soaking tub under the stars at the roof top spa to work out the kinks from sitting all day. You’re also at the right spot for great restaurants. Skip the conference dinner and head to the Ferry Building for seafood at Hog Island Oyster Co, or an organic vegan meal at The Plant Café If you have to eat at the conference, push the food around on your plate like a 5-year-old staring down lima beans, and then take the side exit for tapas at Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta on Pier 5.
  • Experience Las Vegas Sans Casinos – ah, the Vegas conference scene, three days of non-stop overstimulation. Here’s a survival plan. Stay at the Elara. It’s on the strip, but adjacent to the Miracle Mile shops. The best part, great location, no casino…no noise, it’s an oasis from the onslaught. As for things to do off the strip, check out The Auto Collections at the LINQ Hotel & Casino…off the beaten path and a little hard to find (it’s on the top floor of the parking garage). The collection features Elvis’s Cadillac Limo and several cars from movies, including the original “Herbie The Love Bug” and several cars from “Gone in 60 Seconds.”
  • Do Europe in a Weekend by Extended Your Stay in DC –this one takes a little (or a lot) of imagination. Fly into and out of Dulles Airport (IAD). Book a car at the airport on Friday and head to the “French” countryside and stay at the Hillbrook Inn in Charles Town, WV. Hillbrook was built by Brigadier General Frank E. Bamford, on land George Washington once owned. General Bamford modeled his home after an inn he loved in Normandy, where he stayed after WWI. Around the corner is “LeMans”, (Summit Point Motorsports Park) where you can watch a race or schedule some track time with your rental (I’ll never tell). In the afternoon head to “Monte Carlo” (Hollywood Casino) and do some gambling. From there it’s off to “Germany” in Shepherdstown, WV. Book Saturday night at the Bavarian Inn overlooking the Potomac river. The following day walk to “Transylvania” and spend the day in the town called the “Most Haunted Town in America” and subject of the Destination America TV series, “Ghost of Shepherdstown.” Or skip town and head back towards the airport, stopping in the historic town (and National Park) of Harpers Ferry (a 20-minute drive). Make your way back to Dulles, via Route 9, traveling through the “French Wine Country” region of Northern Virginia. You’ll pass 8 vineyards during the short journey (less than 30 minutes) back to the airport. If you’re running short on time, all the locations listed above are within an about hour of the airport.
  • Book a Room With a Stunning View in NYC – no doubt there is a lot to see on the NYC skyline. Here are two you might not think of but provide Instagram worthy views. The first is the INK 48 hotel in Hell’s Kitchen on 48th and 11th. The Press Lounge on the 16th floor offers an incredible view of the Hudson River and the city (in particular Times Square). In the Financial District, stay at the Millennium Hilton, and ask for a room facing the 9/11 Memorial for a stunning view of the new Oculus transit hub and the memorial park.

Business travel can be a necessary evil, but occasionally, it can have an upside if you plan ahead. If you have ideas on how to improve the travel experience, please share them in the comment section below.

The Hell that is Business Travel

A few years ago I suffered through four days of business travel hell.  I saved emails and documented my nightmare so that one-day I might look back on it and laugh.  This story is dedicated to anyone has had “one of those days” or in my case, four of those days.  If you don’t believe in travel karma this may change your mind…pay attention to the time/date stamps and subject headings.  As they say in Germany; “Schadenfreude.”

Day 1 – Monday June 11

Travelogue  5:45 pm – arrive in Detroit early, nice airport… can’t believe we’re early.  Call Lara (my assistant) because I can’t find Mark’s flight information on the arrival board.  Lara tells me that his plane is delay won’t arrive until 7:30 pm.  No problem I’ll grab something to eat and wait for him and Sean.

—–Original Message—–
From: Mark
Sent: Monday, June 11, 6:03 PM
To: Scott Gillum; Sean
Subject: Flight delayed- still on the ground in ATL

Scott and Sean:

I’ve been stuck on the tarmac for about 90 minutes they say due to weather up North. No sign of anything at the airport taking off to the North.

What time do you arrive? Looks like 8:00 to 8:30 if we get out in the next half hour. Otherwise I’ll probably shoot myself… And then it won’t matter.

BTW, who booked me on Northwest?? Very tight, very hot in here…

What’s your status?


—– Original Message —-

From: Scott Gillum
Sent: Monday, June 11, 6:11 PM
To: Mark; Sean
Subject: Re: Flight delayed – still on the ground in ATL

I’ve arrived and am sitting in a nice air conditioned bar in the A terminal about to have a nice Greek dinner.

Got to go… my drink just came, call me when you get in.  Headed to the hotel for a good night of sleep after a big dinner.

Good luck and safe travels. Oh, here comes my appetizer.  Bye.

—–Original Message—–
From: Mark
Sent: Monday, June 11, 6:14 PM
To: Scott Gillum; Sean
Subject: Re: Flight delayed – still on the ground in ATL

Oooooooh.  You’re just getting me ramped up. Don’t expect any mercy from me when the moment is right


—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Gillum
Sent: Monday, June 11, 6:39 PM
To: Mark, Sean
Subject: Re: Flight delayed- still on the ground in ATL

Sorry I couldn’t respond sooner you really need your hands to eat Greek food.

You realize that I probably have cursed myself on the outbound flight now. 

Call me when you get in…unless it’s too late.  I really need my sleep to be on my game.

Travelogue 7:00 pm – Catch the Hilton shuttle bus to the hotel a quick 5 min ride.  Arrive at the hotel – “OMG, what a shit hole”.  Under-construction, the front is completely gone…contemplate getting back on the bus.   Suck it up and enter to find a lobby in the hallway.  Check-in, walk thru the Workout Area (a former hotel room) then thru the make shift restaurant which looks to be meeting room.  Diners don’t seem to notice that I’m walking thru with my bags.  Enter room and open the curtains to see what looks to be the motel from Eminem’s movie 8 Mile across the street.  Glance at the direction for the meeting tomorrow  – notice we’re a good 20 miles from the client, great…the meeting starts at 8:30 am.

Travelogue 8:10 pm – Mark and Sean land…decide to flee and find a hotel closer to the client.  Check and make a reservation at the Weber Restaurant & Hotel.  A well-known steak house in the area that happens to have added a hotel “get’s a lot of press for its indoor pool” according to a review on Google.

Travelogue 9:30 pm – arrive at Weber and check-in.   Clerk has a problem finding the reservation…finally finding it under “Scott Dillum”.

Day 2 – Tuesdays, June 12,  Departing on the 3:17 pm to Washington.  All of us are leaving at about the same time but to different locations.

Travelogue 1:00 pm – check voicemail and hear a message from Northwest Airlines that my flight has been canceled and I have been rebooked on the 9:00 pm flight.  Call Lara who works with the travel agency to book me on the 5:35 pm.

Flights departs from the gate but…

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Gillum
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 5:59 PM
To: Sean; Mark
Subject: What comes around…

Sitting on the tarmac… in the parking lot… grounded because of a weather delay…no time given yet for wheels up.

Great, they just shut the engines down…

—–Original Message—–
From: Mark
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 6:34 PM
To: Scott Gillum; Sean
Subject: Re: What comes around…

Oh man… The sweet taste. I couldn’t reply sooner because I had to finish my frosty ice cream cone I just picked up after landing.


—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Gillum
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 8:49 PM
To: Sean; Mark
Subject: RE: Perfect karma

Spending the night in Detroit…

Travelogue 9:00 pm – arrive back at the gate with tension headache and taste of bile in my mouth.   Buy underwear, shirt, socks, Tums and Tylenol.  Check into an airport hotel…not the Hilton.

—–Original Message—–
From: Sean
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 10:09 PM
To: Scott Gillum; Mark
Subject: RE: Perfect karma

Sitting in Seattle and I can’t help but think you brought this all on yourself, Scott Dillum.



Day 3 – Wednesday, June 13.  

Travelogue 6:00 am: Departing on the 6:30 am to Washington connecting to the 8:30 am Delta Shuttle to New York. No flights available to New York direct from Detroit.  Need to be at an important client meeting in NYC at 10 am.  No chance I’ll make it, but Chris is catching a 7:30 am flight on USAir and will be there in time to cover.  

—–Original Message—–
From: Chris
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 8:05 AM
To: Lara, Scott Gillum
Subject: Also having flight issues. Will arrive at LGA at 9:30

I will have Lara contact the client.

Travelogue 8:30 am – arrive DC and make the shuttle to find Chris sitting on the plane.  No hope of being on time for the meeting now.  Ingest 2 Tums and Tylenol.

Return Flight

Travelogue 6:00 pm – call Lara to make sure my 6:30 pm shuttle is on time and to check weather condition.   Make comment that if there looks like there are any problems I will go to the train station.  Lara confirms that the flight is on time and looks good.

Travelogue 6:15 pm – check-in…flight is on time but notice 5:30 pm has been cancelled.  Plane departs gate on time.  Pilot announces that we will be parked for at least 30 mins waiting for our flight sequence.

Travelogue 7:00 pm – Pilot announces that he has no news but will update in 15 minutes…bile taste coming back, grab Tums.  30  minutes later…we’re #5 for take-off.  We’re airborne. Yes, finally making it home! 

Travelogue 8:00 pm – Pilot announces that DC has stop inbound flights because of storms in the area.   We’ll be circling Dover, Delaware for at least 30 minutes.  Search briefcase for Tums to find a banana that I thru in earlier that day….completely smashed…feels like wet oatmeal.

Travelogue 8:30 pm – Pilot announces that he has no news…but will update us again in 15 minutes.   15 minutes later makes announcement that they are still not taking flights and we’ll have to re-route to another airport to re-fuel.

Travelogue 9:15 pm – we land…in Baltimore.  No gate available, which is not a issue because…no one is available to bring the plane into the gate, or work the jet way, etc.  Tums are now gone.

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Gillum
Sent: Wed, June 13, 11:21 pm
To: Lara
Subject: Didn’t make it back again…

Landed in Baltimore tonight.  Catching a cab…if I’m lucky.  I may or may not be in tomorrow.

Travelogue 9:45 pm – catch cab, 45 minute should be home finally.  Get on I95 to find that 2 lanes are closed…traffic slows to a crawl.  Bile returning, stomach churning, head out the window…possibility of hurling is very real.   Call home and announce to my wife that I’ve landed and I’m quitting my job.

Travelogue ? – lost all track of time but finally home….car at Reagan National.

Day 4 – Thursday, June 14  – Car services takes me to Reagan pick up car.

Travelogue 12:45 pm – finally back in my office with a spiritual healer having my aura adjusted.   Find that I now have a twitch above my left eye brought on by any mention of a storm, airport or plane.   Just submitted a PO request for a “Madden Cruiser.”