Business Travel and loneliness : Connecting with others

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  • capetonianm

    In the context of a (probably spurious) posting, which has been deleted, yesterday about ‘meeting ladies’ a couple of posters raised some interesting and relevant thoughts about business travel and being away from home for long periods.

    This article was in this morning’s Telegraph (behind pay wall but I believe you can register and read a couple of articles a day free). Some of the comments are very apposite.

    It can be hard to connect with others in today’s fragmented world.

    Since many of us here may be affected, I thought it worth posting and sharing views. I have never felt ‘lonely’ on business trips away, since I found plenty to see and do in most places, although some places I’ve been to were pretty grim or unsafe and I would confine myself to barracks with a book or laptop to catch up on reading or writing.

    I may be luckier than some in that I enjoy my own company, probably because I am a grumpy old bastard and only get on with other GOBs, but I can honestly say that on business trips I was rarely, if ever, bored. I used to find reasons not to stay in my hotel after work or at weekends, and got to explore fascinating or enchanting places that others would have missed out on.


    This was a subject bought up some time ago by another forum member who I won’t name in case he wishes to keep it private. But it is a very valid point. I’m also happy in my own company but when away during the week is fine as you have meetings, lunches, dinners etc. However weekends are when most people want to spend the time with their families, so these times can be very lonely in a strange city where perhaps you don’t even speak the local language.

    I’m fortunate in that I can easily strike up conversations with people, and often found that person (male or female) is also alone, so using the hotel’s concierge we arrange a car and tour of the city, museums or other points of interest for example. It’s often nicer in company (for both parties) and also to dine together rather than sitting by yourself in a restaurant. Being a man, and not wearing a ring, sometimes a lady will think it’s a pick up attempt, so I keep the initial conversation general then mention my wife and children showing some photos to break the ice and make them feel comfortable. Of course this is not a blueprint and it depends entirely on the character of the person, but I’ve had many an enjoyable day with many a stranger (and I hope they have to) and have struck up a few friendships this way.

    Capetonian, in the summer I’m part of a Burger Boys Club in Cape Town – men only. We meet up once a month for a burger often at the Andros. We are an interesting bunch of +- ten and some of them like you are also GOB’s so you’d be in good company 😉 if you (or other posters from SA) would like to join us, let me know.


    Thanks LP, would love to take you up on that offer in the summer. Is that the beautiful Andros just behind Kelvin? I’ve often thought of staying there and treating the OH to a spa. Best wishes.


    Loneliness has two sides, of course, with those left at home missing us more or less as well as us missing them. For me I’m always fine when travelling, but Mrs is left at home to deal with everything – not easy. Also I think it depends very much on [1] those at home really understanding and accepting what you are doing [2] how long you’re away – OK for a week, maybe not for 3 months [3] when in the year the trip is – missing Xmas and kids’ birthdays and/or important dates like graduation/ performances is not so great.

    I really like to see some balance, with Mrs also going away and enjoying her trips while I stay at home handling everything. If it can be done (for me it can and is) I think that is very fair. That is just me of course.


    Is that the beautiful Andros just behind Kelvin?

    Yes, I guess you mean Kelvin Grove? That’s about 2kms away. Andros Boutique Hotel is the full name and it’s a beautiful place.
    When we fix the next dates I’ll let you know.


    Fortunately almost all my trips are for max 5 days, so I do not spend weekends on business trips. On rare occasions when I had to stay weekend out, I found that was a great opportunity to explore the city.
    In older days, I used to feel lonely as connecting with family was tedious and costly (via phone). But nowadays constant touch with family via WhatsApp etc. mitigate the loneliness.
    Even if I visited a city many times, hotel concierges are able to come up with interesting ideas for time pass.


    We are drinking tea and sharing a slice of cake at a ‘Chatter & Natter’ table in the Carpentier and Co cafe in Pinner, near Eastcote, as part of the Chatty Cafe scheme, a nationwide initiative designed to combat Britain’s loneliness epidemic.

    The venture has been gathering momentum since its launch last year, with high street chain Costa recently adopting it at selected branches around the country.

    In recent years, numerous studies have linked loneliness with premature death.

    Just this month, a University of Copenhagen study of 13,000 patients suggested that social isolation was as big a risk factor for heart disease as heavy alcohol intake and smoking, and that people who are lonely had double the mortality risk of those who were socially active.

    The evidence is undeniable: loneliness kills. Could Chatter & Natter tables, which have been installed in more than 100 coffee shops nationwide offer a solution?


    Capetonianm, thanks for raising the issue …….Loneliness is all around us, yet to most of us, ignored because if you’re not afflicted with the feeling of something missing from your life, then you’re not going to recognize it in others. Especially when loneliness isn’t black and white, it’s a murky grey that ebbs and flows through the depths of your inner self.

    It can be serious, and I particularly loved the point that GivingupBA made. Sadlyhumans are naturally selfish, and focus on their own feelings, not recognizing, or worse taking for granted the other persons feelings..

    And, no apologies for wearing my heart on my sleeves as it where !!
    There may be some forum readers, that might read my tale , recognize similarities and adjust their behaviours/ actions for the betterment of their relationship !!

    I lost my best friend, along with the kids, and all because I didn’t pay attention to the signs. Signs that with hindsight and life experience were glaring, but at the time where in that murky grey world I described above..

    Selfishly I enjoyed the benefits of working away from home. Like others on here I enjoy my own company, to an extent but find it easy to engage others. Wheter it be watching a football match, or just shooting the breeze at the hotel bar.
    But worse still, I selfishly enjoyed the “weekend visits” . The passion of a normal 7 day relationship, crammed into 2.5 days. Our love life was fantastic, intense and teenage like with its desire and enthusiasm. Mundane reality was missing.. And that side of our relationship should have set off alarm bells…….but hey, I’m a man …Happy days !!

    Older and wiser, and now lonelier …….. the realization that sharing the boring mundane day to day , sometimes seen as trivial tasks truly strengthens partnerships..

    After many years of not building on the mundane, my partner ( in her head) grew an alter ego….. She had 2 life’s……Her Monday to Friday life and her weekend life !!
    She concluded she needed to have a 7 day life of consistency…… Because we weren’t married, she correctly put her children first and readjusted to a 7 day life without me!!

    Sadly, if I had an idea, like I do now I would have prioritised what was important. ….
    When a relationship breaks down people mourn, not for what they had, but for what they could have had ! …… I now don’t travel anywhere near as much, and I don’t have the life I thought I would..
    A fantastic mundane life, full of kids fighting,, family arguments about the telly ,etc, etc …… Bonking madly isn’t everything !!

    So, not sure what I’m trying to say, apart from don’t take your better half for granted !!

    By the way, I’m not lonely (most of the time) . I’ve great friends, family and am constantly on the go !!


    Many (35?) years ago a hotel chain in the UK (don’t remember which) had a policy of having a “social table” in their restaurants. Single diners, on entering the restaurant, were given the option of a table of their own, or joining the social table.

    A no pressure way of offering the option for those who wanted it. From memory it was a popular option.


    I think it may have been Bernie Inns (anyone remember them?), it does ring a bell. When I was about 18 taking a date to a Bernie Inn was considered the height of romantic dining!

    There is a restaurant in Observatory, which is an up and coming and vibrant suburb of CPT, which does social dining. A friend who lives there told me about it but I can’t remember the name.


    Bernie Inns. Now there’s a name to conjure with!

    Prawn cocktail, Rump steak with crinkle cut chips and peas, and BFG for afters. For about £3.

    Nostalgia is not what it used to be.


    Prawn cocktail, Rump steak with crinkle cut chips and peas, and BFG for afters. For about £3

    So 1970s! Dark tables, dark red plush everywhere.


    Berni Inns (note spelling). And a bottle of Hungarian Bull’s Blood for total luxury.

    (After writing that, I Googled Egri Bikaver (Bull’s Bloody) because I remember liking it. Blimey, it’s still around and is definitely not cheap.)


    Berni Inn at Norton (Sheffield) – special place to be taken by my parents over ** years ago…


    Berni Inn – at the top of Regent Street, in Swindon, now that was a special treat from my parents in the 1960’s. The steaks were enormous (well they were for me)

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