Road Sweet Home

Road Sweet Home

Here’s a very interesting and vaguely disturbing fact: One of the best things about business travel is escaping your spouse and your loved ones and ditching the humdrum routine of hearth and home.

Hey, folks, that ain’t me talking. You have been saying that to me in the witty and eye-opening commentary you send me from around the world. A hefty portion of the E-mail I receive describes life on the road as a blissful respite from life at home.

Your desire for roadside refuge is of an extra-ordinarily basic nature. Women business travelers, for example, repeatedly mention the fact that being alone in a hotel room means that they, not their clicker-hogging husbands, control the remote. Men business travelers love the road because flying solo means that they can eat in their otherwise empty hotel-room beds. Women seem to love being in hotel rooms because it means they don’t have to run a household or clean the house. (I’ve yet to receive a single E-mail from a man addressing the issue of cleaning, so I assume we have all heeded the words of Neil Young and gotten ourselves a maid.) Men business travelers like the road because an empty hotel room translates into a quiet place to watch Monday Night Football.

I admit to being absolutely dumbfounded by this gender-based business-travel schism. I mean, I’ve almost never seen this Mars-Venus issue written about and I have never, ever had a business traveler tell me about it during a face-to-face conversation. Maybe it’s something we’ll only discuss while cloaked in the relative anonymity of E-mail. We sure have never done it within earshot of any airport bar, club lounge, hotel lobby or convention hospitality room I’ve haunted.

Without further ado–and without a single shred of analysis from your dumb-struck scribe–allow me to present your commentary on business travel’s heretofore undocumented gender gap. And, just for the record, please note that I occasionally allow my frequent-flying wife to use our many TV remotes, she permits me to eat in bed, we have someone clean our house, and I can’t stand Monday Night Football. Besides, we spent last weekend in a hotel together and one night we watched a movie (her choice) and another night we watched a basketball playoff game. Of course, she went to the hotel bar for a glass of wine during halftime…

“Like most middle-aged wives, I usually don’t have control of the TV remote at home. Being able to flip from one channel to another, stop on the House and Garden Channel, the Travel Channel or whatever I want, is a luxury afforded me in every hotel I stay. It’s wonderful!” … “In a hotel, I have the remote control–and never turn on the television.” … “There is something rather nice about having complete control over the remote.” … “One good thing about business travel for us females is having clicker control.”

“My wife becomes irate when I eat in bed, particularly when it’s chocolate. Hotel honor bars with Famous Amos cookies and Snickers and Toblerone bars make going to bed a pleasure.” … “The best thing about business travel: eating pizza and watching a pay-TV movie that your wife wouldn’t see with you in the theater.” … “One of the few good things about business travel: arriving at a hotel on a Monday night, drinking beer and eating a big steak in bed while watching a full, uninterrupted Monday night football game.” … “I hate to say it, but when I’m out of town, I love a king-size bed with extra pillows. My wife would never allow me to sit in bed watching TV and working on my laptop.”

“The best thing about business travel is coming back to my room after a hard work day and seeing it neat. The bed is made and I have fresh towels in a clean bathroom. Travel allows me to be irresponsible and leave wet towels on the bathroom floor.” … “On the road, I don’t have to fix my bed, vacuum or wash dishes, clean the bathroom or do laundry.” … “The best thing about business travel is that I don’t have to wipe down the shower when I am done.” … “Hotels clean up after you. I can leave all my towels on the floor of the bathroom and someone has given me fresh ones when I return.” … “The absolute best thing about business travel is that someone else does all the cleaning. It may not always be perfectly done, but I didn’t have to do it, either.”

“I’m a working mom with a job that takes me on the road nearly every week. What’s good about all the travel I do? Not having to figure out what’s for dinner.” … “When I’m home, I have to decide what’s for dinner, then prepare it and cook it, and put it on the table. When I travel, I sit down, choose what I want, and it appears in front of me. Heaven!” … “On the road, I like the fact that there are no household chores to do. No dinner to make, no dishes to wash, no drawers or closets to clean out. When you are done with your meetings and paperwork for the day, there is only yourself to think about.”

One last point worth noting. I get lots of E-mails describing the loneliness of the long-distance business traveler, but I receive an equally large number of missives extolling life on the road because it allows you to sleep alone. And this one bridges the gender gap: Both men and woman business travelers apparently like the opportunity to have a hotel-room bed all to their lonesome.

“At home, I share my king-size bed with a 260-pound snoring husband and a 35-pound snoring beagle,” writes one woman traveler. “Not when I travel! No snoring, no one ‘dogging’ the covers! I sleep like a rock.” And from the guy’s side of the bed, this note: “I love my wife, but sleeping alone in bed without her snoring and pulling the covers is great.”

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