Business Travel on the Cheap

Up, up and expensed.
Up, up and expensed.

Your intrepid reporter and aspiring media mogul has returned from a weeklong tour of business stops and family visits across the continent (LA to NYC with, somehow, a pit stop in St. Helena). Though I travel frequently for business, I’ve never been one of those corporate road warriors inured to the slings and arrows of pursuing one’s outrageous fortune.

I’m a travel wimp. I love my own bed and the woman with whom I share it. Pangs of homesickness set in after about half an hour. This is why I’m always going home for lunch and napping midday. “You ate everything in the house and slept all day,” says my wife and I reply “Yes, because I missed you.” I’m also prone to “traveler’s remorse,” due to the fact that, like you, darlings, I live in the most beautiful place on earth. Thus the nagging question “What the devil am I doing here?” whenever elsewhere.

The short answer, while on business is: Wheeling and dealing, baby, that’s what I’m doing, and sometimes you just have to go where the action is. And the devil. Consider this mental jujitsu – You wouldn’t go to Hollywood for wine would you? I rest my case.

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Well, actually, we drank my case, but it was for the sake of the flick and I have the footage to prove it. It’s a living and I’m pleased to once again be part of the jet set, or at least, the JetBlue set, because, hey, start-ups aren’t what they were when I first got into the biz. Ah, the bubblicious late ’90s. “Content is king,” pronounced the emperor as he streaked the halls clad in designer hubris. Those were the days; catered lunches, a hand masseur and Fusbol game on every floor. Yeah, my new operation has none of the above and even less for good measure. When you’re the boss, what once seemed cheap is now respectably prudent.

I even packed my own burrito for my JetBlue flight and checked in some of my clients’ wine for later (the delightful new Menage a Trois chardonnay for business and the splendid 2007 zinfandel, courtesy of Kunde Family Estate, for pleasure).

In recent years, charging extra for checked luggage has become an expensive trend among airlines. Checked luggage meaning the change of clothes one is unable to cram into one’s allotment of a single laptop bag. Hence, when one absolutely, positively has to be wherever overnight, save on the fees by wearing layers that can be rearranged to suggest the appearance of fresh garments. A leather belt can double as a skinny retro necktie if properly knotted; a T-shirt worn on top of one’s dress shirt can easily pass as a vest in most low-light situations.

Also, keep travel expenses down by forgoing pricey hotel accommodations and simply staying up all night at any of a number of 24-hour chain restaurants. Don’t worry about being tired for your big meeting the next day – all the coffee refills you’ll be imbibing because you’re too frugal a businessman to order anything but a beverage should keep you ready and alert. And remember to tip every waitperson whose shift you sit through. Otherwise, they’ll call the cops on you for loitering.

In an effort to keep your insurance costs down, avoid picking up airborne illnesses. Jetliners are really just huge, airborne tubes of human pathogens. No one wants to be Patient Zero of the next pandemic, but if you’re like me, a facemask is not an accessory that fits easily into one’s wardrobe. Yet, while flying, the last thing one wants to do is breath the recycled air that has already passed through the lungs of dozens of potential sickos. Solution: Bring face masks for everyone else – you get to keep your couture intact while expressing your magnanimous concern for the well-being of others. Plus, you can pretend you’re the patient in an airborne operating theater. Just be sure to retrieve all the masks for your return flight. It’s good for the bottom line and that’s good for you.