Real Travel Time

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Real Travel Time

Usually when one thinks of “travel time”, he’s thinking about flight time, or time in the car or the train. This is an inaccurate and clumsy way to interpret travel time.

Real travel time is the time between when you walk out of your front door and walk into your hotel room at your destination.

When I fly to Las Vegas from Portland, the flight takes about one hour and 50 minutes, so this translates to about two hours of travel time. Right? Wrong! My travel time is actually seven hours. Seven hours? What?

Yep. Seven hours. Here’s why:

- I have to drive to the airport.

- I have to arrive very early to account for any delays and to account for boarding time, which is different than wheels-up time. My general rule is to arrive at the airport two hours before my flight leaves.

- I have to park, wait for the parking shuttle to arrive and then take the parking shuttle to the airport.

- I have to wait in line with the rest of the cattle, then go through our Nazi-like War or Terror security-check processes. I always opt-out of the scanner, so I have to then get my body fondled by a security staffer.

- I have to wait to board my flight.

- I have to board my flight, and then wait for the rest of the passengers to board.

- I have to fly to my destination.

- I have to disembark from the plane (waiting for everyone in front of me), then walk through the airport to the ground transportation area. Then I have to find either a taxi or a shuttle.

- I have to wait in line for the taxi or shuttle.

- I have to be driven to my hotel. If it’s a shuttle, I may have to wait to stop off at other passengers’ destinations before I reach my own.

- I have to wait in line at the hotel, check in, and then finally walk up to my hotel room.

Including all of that stuff and after deducting the actual flight time, it easily comes to five hours, and sometimes even longer. In my case, I suppose I could deduct about 30 minutes from those five hours since I can often get about 30 minutes of work done on my laptop at the airport while waiting to board, since I’m always work-mobile-ready when I travel. Even then, we’re still looking at 4.5 hours (and we’re not even factoring in time to pack and unpack).

When you are traveling for business, you need to account for this time. This time expended is a “spent cost” that you must recoup on your business trip, or else you’re losing money even if you don’t realize it. And remember, you’re going to spend these five hours twice- once when you are going to your destination and again when you are coming back home.

If you’re travelling just for fun, you also need to account for this time. I’ve seen people spending seven, eight, or nine hours in one-way travel (including all the items above) just to experience a few hours of fun before they have to do spend another seven, eight, or nine hours to travel back to home.

Whenever I travel, I always work and play, so I treat every trip that I embark on like a business trip. I always know that I must somehow financially recoup that 4.5 hours (x2) of overhead time as best as I possibly can, or I may have to skip the trip.

This article was originally published on May 13, 2015
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