This past month at work, I suggested something pretty crazy that we actually ended up doing. See, we’re in an industry that has two big trade-shows, each happening twice a year. The locations are in Las Vegas and in North Carolina, while we are in Minnesota. We’ve always flown, since it’s over 1,000 miles to each one. We also bring between 7-10 people on each trip out of our 40 total employees. As you can see, this is a fairly expensive thing to do for a company our size. Well this time, flights were crazy expensive and we wanted to bring at least 10 people again. I got crazy earlier this month and suggested we try road tripping down to North Carolina. After a bit of shock from everyone, they all got on board. We ended up doing it this past week. There were many pros and cons of road tripping this time versus flying like we normally do and here are the details:
A Little Trip Information
We needed to bring 10 people from Minnesota to North Carolina for 5-6 days. My boss had already booked a flight so we were down to 9. We shopped around at large conversion vans, which ended up being too expensive. Two conversion van rentals for 7-8 days with 2,500 allowed miles would have cost us $1,300-1,400 each, plus gas. We looked into renting two minivans instead at a car rental company for around $400 each. We chose to save the $1,000 each and go with the minivans and we flew one more person. That put us at 4 people in each of 2 vans and we flew 2 people.
We lucked out and got two almost brand new Chrysler Town and Country minivans with all the bells and whistles like a DVD system with wireless headphones, leather seats, rear A/C with middle captains chairs and a satellite radio system. We folded the back seats down to make tons of room for luggage. These accommodations were not bad at all in comparison to a coach seat on a cramped puddle jumper plane.
The Pros of a Cross Country Business Road Trip
Yes, there are actually pros to driving across the country on a business trip. Here are a few:
- You can bring all the luggage you want (if you have the room like we did). There was no worrying about whether or not you can bring the finger nail clipper and no cramming all your liquids into a zip-lock bag. No invasive security either.
- You get to see the country. We drove through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee to get to North Carolina. That was fun!
- You can stop and experience local eateries along the way and meet the locals (see the picture below).
- It is almost always cheaper than flying. We saved around $2-3,000 over flying 8 people.
- You get to know your co-workers better and build a better relationship with them. This just might be a memorable experience that you’ll all look back on with good memories.
- If you have clients across the country, you can go visit them. Each of our two vans made a client visit both on the way down and on the way back. This was good experience for all involved and helped us deepen our relationships with those clients without having to pay for separate trips.
The Cons of a Cross Country Business Road Trip
Of course, there are negatives that can come from a business road trip verses flying. Here are some of those:
- The trip takes much longer. All the driving totaled 21 hours, each way. We decided to do each way in 2 days of driving. That enabled us to keep our sleep schedules in tact as we would have to work long days while in North Carolina. That couldn’t be sacrificed. Flying only takes a half a day so there is a 1.5 day difference each way (3 total) in trip length. Since we are on a business trip, the company obviously has to pay for the time involved. That’s a downside for the company.
- Too much close time with your co-workers. Yes, this could be a good thing, but it could also be bad. If your personalities clash, you and your co-workers may get irritated with each other and actually damage your working relationship. This is not good for you or the company.
- It can drain you and negatively affect your ability to be productive for your company on the trip. Since we had a 5-6 day trade-show to work at while we were down there, we had to make sure we remained rested and productive. It was a tough balance. A road trip can compromise that if you’re not careful.
When All Said and Done, Would We Do It Again?
Yes, I would, but I can’t speak for the rest of my co-workers. By nature, I love to road trip. It’s even better when I don’t have to personally pay for it and risk my own car (yes, it’s a risk). Did it drain me and make me unproductive at the work trade-show? No, I would have been drained either way. I, and my co-workers, were actually quite productive the whole time. I think it was due to us having a very comfortable ride and taking it slow over 2 days each way with a hotel stay in the middle. All in all, I’d do it again, but perhaps only once a year or so, flying the other times. It just might be something my co-workers and even clients and I talk about for months/years to come.