Does business travel bring out the best or beast in us?

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4339353059_e24b4c0b02_z.gifAccording to a recent poll of 2,000 working Americans Harris interactive recently conducted for webcasting company ON24, business travel brings out the beast in us (94 percent). It makes us eat (53 percent) and drink (71 percent) too much, spend too much cash (54 percent), throw our exercise routines out the window (43 percent), stay up too late (42 percent), and even take take illicit drugs (31 percent—say what?!). It stresses us out (75 percent) and helps wreak havoc on our relationships (70 percent)—likely because it also increases the changes we'll fool around with someone who is not our significant other (45 percent). It makes us sick (63 percent), and even makes our kids more rebellious (54 percent).

Wow, I sure hope we get some extra comp time to amp up our diet/exercise/financial planning/sleep/rehab/stress management/marital counseling/doctor visits/time to take the kids to boot camp!

While I'm always a perfect angel on the road (ahem), I have certainly seen others act not in their own best interests at conferences. So, beast wins.

Or maybe not. Another recent survey of more than 1,000 business travelers conducted by Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott found that, despite all the hassles of traveling for business, we feel pretty good about being on the road: 88 percent report feeling positive emotions—confident, knowledgeable, interested, calm, excited, eager, well-connected, and happy—during a trip.

So it brings out the best after all?

Uh oh, again, maybe not. "'While more than half of frequent business travelers say they work twice as much when on the road, they also experience a certain feeling of freedom,' said [Shruti Buckley, vice president and global brand manager, Fairfield Inn & Suites]. 'Sixty percent report feeling free to do whatever they want, which is empowering, as is getting their job done.'”

While I'm sure Buckley meant self-empowerment in a positive way, it's just as easy to think that's exactly what underlies all the bad behavior. Give us a little freedom, and we quickly use it to dive to the bottom. It's the flip side of the Marriott's survey findings that they're gaining happiness from meeting new people (affair alert!), and trying new foods (good-bye, waistline), although the 59 percent who say "coming home from a trip is like a honeymoon with their spouse" is a bit more heartening.

So, does being on the road give us the freedom to cut loose and indulge in bad behavior, or does it free us to develop into better homo sapiens?

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