Q&A in the News
January 12, 2010
Business travelers find time for pleasure
Frequent business traveler David Condon is ecstatic about the "best eggs Benedict" at the Gaffey Street Diner in San Pedro, Calif., and the "garbage plate" at Franks Diner in Kenosha, Wis.
The garbage plate — "hash browns, eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage and God knows what else" accompanied by homemade toast — "is a totally decadent experience," says Condon, of West Haven, Conn., who's CEO of a consulting company that helps non-profit groups raise money.
Condon, who travels on business about 200 days a year, says his "decadent pleasure" is seeking the greasy-spoon restaurants Guy Fieri visits on his popular Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
Many frequent travelers indulge in various pleasures on the road in a search for respite from the rigors of work.
USA TODAY asked its road warriors — frequent business travelers who volunteer information — to name their decadent pleasures away from home. Like Condon, more road warriors pointed to food than any other indulgence.
David Bradach of Naples, Fla., just indulges in the mouth-watering delights in a different way. He picks three restaurants and enjoys a course at each with a glass of wine at the bar.
The second most popular indulgence, according to 68 road warriors who responded, is massages or other spa treatments.
Susan Jacobsen, who runs a public relations company in Alexandria, Va., flew last week to Las Vegas a few days before a conference for a massage at The Venetian's 134,000-square-foot Canyon Ranch spa, VIP treatment on the private Concierge Level of The Palazzo resort and dinner at Bouchon.
"With increased security, long lines and delays, travel is more stressful," Jacobsen says. "So once I get to my destination, I savor the little things — the shops I don't have in my area, the relaxation that comes from a 50-minute massage and the escape from the craziness that goes hand-in-hand with traveling."
Relaxation is simpler for Matt Holdrege, a sales director in the telecommunications industry.
"Spas are one pleasure, but the most decadent pleasure is spending an entire Saturday or Sunday in a hotel bed while on the road," says Holdrege of Lakewood, Calif. "Peace and quiet, and nothing to disturb you, is bliss and very rare."
Reading, hobbies and concerts
Several road warriors say their most decadent pleasure on the road is having time to read books or daily newspapers.
"I'm a bookstore whore," says Gina Maddox, a speaker and writer in Gulf Breeze, Fla. "I never met a bookstore I wasn't willing to do business with."
Maddox says she can't justify leisurely shopping for books at home. "But a delayed flight and a long layover at Atlanta airport is a perfect excuse," she says. She says she pays full retail prices for books at airports — instead of cheaper prices online. "But the instant gratification," she says, "is worth it."
For Earl Quenzel of Fort Myers, Fla., the gratification is hats.
"I love to shop for authentic hats indigenous to the place I'm visiting," says Quenzel, owner of an advertising and Web marketing agency. "I believe my connection with hats dates to my great-grandfather, who was a union boss at a hat company in Philadelphia during the late 1800s."
In London, Quenzel bought a bowler, a silk top hat, a trilby (a soft felt hat with an indented crown), a bearskin cap and a helmet that's worn by guards at Buckingham Palace. He purchased a bullfighter's hat, called a montera, in Madrid. He bought a French Basque beret in France.
For David Bennett of Park City, Utah, it's hats off to Bruce Springsteen.
"I try to arrange my work trips around concerts and last year saw Bruce Springsteen seven times in cities all over the country," says Bennett, owner of a jail consulting business. "One show at Giants Stadium in New Jersey was my first date with my girlfriend, Jennifer Moyer, a holistic health care provider in New York."
Bennett's other decadent pleasure is running.
"I select hotels that are convenient to running trails, and love the time I spend on the out-of-town trails," he says. Cities with "particularly enjoyable" trail systems, he says, include Spokane, Wash.; Bozeman, Mont.; Santa Rosa, Calif.; and Fort Myers.
Tasting wine, smelling roses
Similarly, Patrick Scott of Las Vegas says long walks are among his decadent pleasures — even in Midtown Manhattan, where he stops to choose from "dozens of wines" by the glass at Morrell Wine Bar & Café in Rockefeller Center.
Scott says he's "still trying to figure out" how to enjoy small pleasures at home, where he doesn't take "the time to smell the roses."
"On the road," says Scott, vice president of a mental health company, "I am always traveling alone and won't upset the family's apple cart by taking time for myself."
Chris Byrd of Phoenix says, "You have to grasp at any pleasurable thing when on the road — no matter how big or small." He seeks "barbecue joints" featured on TV, and never misses a chance at The Salt Lick, a barbecue restaurant at Austin's airport.
"Anything that can bring even the slightest smile to one's face on the road is welcome," says Byrd, a research associate in the pharmaceutical industry.
Michael Monroe, a consultant in Lakeland, Fla., says sometimes the decadence is "not too exciting" — just hotel room service, an in-room movie or a nice restaurant. But he says he knows why small pleasures go a long way for road warriors.
"With the stresses of work and travel and the guilt from being away from the family and home, you look for something that brings you pleasure," he says. "But not too much, or you'll feel even more guilt."
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