How I don’t travel

We have a great partner dynamic at Foundry. We’ve all worked together for at least 7 years (in some cases over 10 years) and are close friends as well as colleagues.  We also have pretty varied styles and opinions.  Case in point – Brad’s recent post on his travel habits.  I couldn’t be more different in how I approach travel.

Heading to the west coast, Brad likes to get up insanely early and take the 6am flight to SFO so he can start his meetings at 8:30.  I’ve done that about a dozen times and finally realized that I just can’t deal with the 22 hour day that results from it.  I was doing it a lot on Mondays and it pretty much assured that I was a few steps off for the rest of the week.  Instead, I prefer to either fly in the night before (there’s a late Frontier flight that still lets me have dinner at home with my family before heading out) or on the 8:30am flight in the morning (from that flight I can make a 10:30 meeting pretty much anywhere on the peninsula or in the city).

Flying east, Brad likes to take the afternoon flight and get in to New York after midnight.  I did that one time (actually on a flight with Amy, Brad’s wife), got delayed, ended up at my hotel at 2:30am, woke up at 7:00 for a meeting the next morning and decided that was not the way I like to travel.  I’ve found that taking a morning flight east (leaving around 8:00am) is right for me.  I get 3 hours of productive time on the airplane and am in the city in plenty of time for an afternoon meeting and dinner.  I never feel like I’ve wasted a day when I do this because I always get a lot done on the days I travel east between clearing out my inbox and catching up on my reading on the plane and having meetings the same day I get to the city.

Which brings me to my main travel difference with Brad (and what I suspect is ultimately at the heart of our different travel preferences) – the plane as an office vs as a bed.  Brad can sleep on any flight, any time.  I noticed this years ago when we used to travel more often together.  It’s actually pretty uncanny (and a nice skill to have).  I don’t share this air-narcoleptic ability with Brad. I really don’t like sleeping on planes (can’t, really) and prefer to work when I’m in an airplane.  With no incoming calls, no new emails and my headset plugged in to some background music I find it an incredibly productive environment for plowing through a ton of work.  Airplanes freeze time (well – not really, but they make you feel like they do) and I love the productivity that results from that.

Different strokes for different partners, I guess….

  • I'm with you bro.

  • “air-narcoletic” – I like that.

  • daren benzi

    amazing insights, thank you! could you also share your favourite meals while traveling?

    • sethlevine

      sushi – always! seems fresher on the coasts and when you travel a lot, its a good way not to eat like crap…

  • Dan Burcaw

    have you ever tried sleeping on the tray table? It might just work. 🙂

    • sethlevine

      nice! i actually have tried this a few times to some success (although probably also some embarrassment!)

  • Manav Misra

    Interesting post, Seth. I used to be part of an organization where not traveling the Brad schedules was looked upon as slacking off. I completely agree with you though that you can be equally productive with a physically less demanding travel schedule. Now that I'm working for a startup in the Bay Area while living in Colorado, I've taken to traveling out on the 8:30am flight that gets me there by 10:30, and then flying back around 5pm at the end of the week. Works much better for me.

  • Ray Sachs

    And when you come in the night before you can be on time for the next day's meeting demonstrating respect for those you are joining.

    • sethlevine

      Absolutely, Ray. Trying to squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning always backfires . . .