International Business Traveler

Steve’s post below skirts round the subject of fear of flying. I never used to be afraid of getting on a plane, then suddenly a couple of years ago I started getting the twinges of unease he talks about. I realised this summer that it was nothing to do with the terrorists and everything to do with my then job.

Before I took that job I’d been envious of my colleagues who got to travel on business – it seemed glamorous, and even if they were having to spend most of their time abroad in an office at least they were getting to see some of the places they went to, right? Wrong. As soon as I was in a role that required business trips – to Europe, maybe three times a year, nothing major – I started hating it.

If I started talking about the actual experience of being abroad on business this post would tip 500 words and you’d all skim it. I’ll just say that in my experience maybe 80-90% of business trips are totally unneccessary – you end up discussing nothing that couldn’t have been teleconferenced or done on the phone or email. And yet I’m pretty sure that since teleconferencing and email came in the amount of trips people do has actually risen. The extra frisson that comes with a firm non-virtual handshake is surely no substitute for the oceans of wasted time the business traveller spends in taxis, airports, grotty Novotels, etc etc.

Anyway that’s what made me start dislike flying. I think the tiny risk involved seemed worthwhile and non-scary as long as I was doing something I wanted, like going on holiday or flying to see friends. But the thought of dying because the Paris office wanted clarification on panel sizes – ugh. My new job involves more actual ‘global responsibility’ and curiously manages without shunting me onto planes to demonstrate that fact. The expense money thus saved can be happily spent in pricey bistros, and my fear of flying has been nipped in the bud: win-win, I reckon.

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