As a relatively frequent traveler, you have your favorites when you go on the road. Sometimes it is out of preference, other times convenience, and sometimes necessity. As the year is coming to a close, I started to look at the totals of my travels this year, and I came up with some interesting observations.
One of the first observations was that I compressed my travels into 40 weeks of the year. My shoulder surgery took me out of commission for travel until the middle of March, and no one really is on the road for business during the last three weeks of the year, so 40 weeks was my travel season. The next surprising figure was how long I was away from home. For business alone, I have spent over 30 nights in Marriott hotels, and probably an additional 15 or so in others. Add in another 20 or so nights for various vacations and I ended up with over two months not in my own bed this year.
As for transportation, I am really loyal to one airline, United, because Newark is one of their major hubs following their merger with Continental. I can get most places with a non-stop flight or maybe one connection, and while I may save a couple of dollars by shopping around, there is nothing that beats the perks of being an elite frequent flier with an airline, so I keep my eggs in the same basket. With the shorter travel season this year I “only” flew 22,000 miles, which is one of my lowest totals for a year in recent memory (I had over 54,000 a couple of years ago).
So the question has to be asked, “Is it worth it?” The answer for me is still yes. There is nothing that beats being at a customer’s facility and working with them face to face. The same goes for participating in industry working groups and the numerous ASLRRA functions that I attend. If you ask my wife if she is happy with all of my time on the road she will tell you that she understands why I do it, but there are times that she would like me around more (truth be told, I think she was happy for me to get out of the house after I was home for almost 12 weeks straight earlier in the year). As for my kids, I think they were kind of numb to it when they were younger, and now they prefer to have me around more.
So how is the travel forecast looking for 2013? More of the same, with a slightly longer season, and probably a couple more trips packed in.
See you on the road.
—By Steve Friedland
Steve Friedland is a child of the railroad industry. Following summers and vacations working on the track gang for the family-owned Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he started full-time in 1994. He has worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations, and currently is a member of the management team for the company as director of operations in Morristown, N.J. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.