February 17 2010 by Chris McGinnis
*Photo by Paramount Pictures.
Have you seen the movie "Up in the Air" yet? In case you've not heard or read about it, the Oscar-nominated film stars George Clooney playing the part of Ryan Bingham, a super-frequent business traveler dealing with the effects of his peripatetic lifestyle. Here's a great one-minute clip.
His quest to earn 10 million frequent flyer miles has gotten him plenty of perks, but it's clearly left him isolated from the real world and from real relationships.
Every frequent traveler will see a little bit of him or herself in the Bingham character. The scene in the movie that hit home most with me was when he returns "home" to his apartment after a long stint on the road. The place looks just like one of those new long-term apartment style hotels--sterile, boxy and cold.
Just like mine did.
Back in the 1990's I worked as a management consultant for nearly five years. During much of that time, I left "home" every Sunday afternoon and returned every Friday evening to a bland apartment in suburban Atlanta.
I was single back then, so weekends were spent doing laundry, paying bills, seeing a friend or two for a meal, then getting ready to head back out where I was needed by my clients and colleagues... where I enjoyed the attention of doting flight attendants and hotel check-in clerks who knew me by name...when the fare at Bennigan's or Chili's or TGIFridays tasted more familiar than a home-cooked meal.
I felt like I belonged on the road more than I belonged at home, and that started to wear thin after a while. Eventually, I worked my way into my current career as a travel writer and consultant, which ironically, means I spend as much time at home writing and managing my small business as I do on the road.
"Up in the Air" reminded me of a time when my work/life balance was out of whack and makes me still wonder, how much business travel is too much? I know I still love to hit the road a couple times a month, but I wonder what I'd be like if I were still traveling like Ryan Bingham?
What do YOU think is the right balance?