The attempt to remove alcoholic beverages from my diet this week has failed miserably. Trapped inside of an abandoned commercial park housing an oversized conference chain hotel, I needed something stronger than water to temporarily elevate my disparaging mood.
I may be exaggerating slightly, but the sight is truly a depressing one. My room overlooks a manmade lake dotted with several commercial buildings. The parking lots stand empty and abandoned storefronts decorate each one. Miscellaneous furniture and trash bags are all that’s left. No one even bothered to put a FOR RENT sign up. It might not even be an option.
The area looks as though it might have at some point had potential to thrive and so they built it. But no one came. Or perhaps they did come, and then left the very next day.
It’s easy to feel as though you are on the set of a dystopian film. Perhaps it drove the inspiration for the Hunger Games trilogy. However, the cast of characters in my version seem to be quite well fed.
And to be fair, you do have your pick of three restaurants on the hotel property. Why take a 40 minute Uber to the "nearby" downtown when you can transport yourself to Italy, Greece and Japan steps from your bed. With stereotypical decor chosen exclusively from TJ Maxx, it’s nearly impossible to experience the charm they are trying so hard to bestow upon you.
This situation is one I encounter frequently. Anyone who travels for work, specifically to attend or speak at tradeshows, knows exactly what I am talking about. It doesn't matter how cool of a city you may fly in to, there is always a commerical park inconveniently located 20-30 miles away for you to rot in for anywhere between 2 and 4 days.
But location is only half the equation. Your forced companions can make or break these week-long adventures. And if you work for a company larger than a hundred employees, your co-workers likely fall into one of three categories:
People you enjoy
People you can’t stand
Higher-ups that make you nervous
People you tolerate get lumped in with people you enjoy, because this is a work trip and standards for companionship are low. Sales guys often fall into this category.
As such, location and company become your two variables for success.
Las Vegas + people you enjoy = a good trip.
Seattle or Austin + higher ups that make you nervous = a tolerable trip, with potential career benefits (if you keep your shit together)
Disneyland + people you can’t stand = a literal nightmare.
My only advice is to fully embrace each situation. Not all travel is glamorous, and in the case of work travel, you often get what you pay for - which is nothing. Because hopefully, all your lackluster experiences are expense-able.