Some business travelers may grumble about the hardships of the road. But a new, extensive survey of their views of life on the road reveals that most appreciate their transient lifestyle.
The survey of 1,001 business travelers, conducted by market research company TNS for Marriott's Fairfield Inn & Suites, finds that 92 percent are satisfied with how much they travel.
Most say business travel has positively affected their professional reputation and career opportunities. A small percentage — 13 percent — says business travel has negatively affected their emotional health, and 20 percent say it has affected their physical health.
And there are interesting gender differences when it comes to travel.
The survey is one of the most probing into business travelers' attitudes toward the effect travel has on their lives.
"We knew very little about the emotional state of frequent business travelers and were surprised how positive travel was for their lives," says Shruti Buckley, a Fairfield Inn & Suites vice president.
The survey results released this week found that four of every five people surveyed thought that business travel made them more successful at work. Nearly 80 percent said business travel has made them "feel more prepared in life."
Only people who travel on business more than three times a year were surveyed. They spent an average of 22 nights in a hotel in the 12 months before the survey.
Key Survey Findings
Experiencing new places — followed by meeting new people and dining — are the most enjoyable aspects of business travel, most business travelers said.
Nearly half find the most enjoyable aspect of business travel is earning miles or points in airline, hotel and car-rental programs. Not going into the office was most enjoyable for 36 percent.
A majority of business travelers — 88 percent — feel "a positive emotion" when preparing for a business trip. Half feel confident, and 48 percent feel knowledgeable as they prepare.
In contrast, about two of every 10 business travelers feel stressed before a trip, 4 percent are annoyed, 2 percent are sad and 2 percent feel guilty.
Also on the flip side, half say the most difficult part of being away from home is missing family or a "significant other." Sleeping poorly, not maintaining a fitness routine and missing home-cooked meals also ranked among the downsides of travel.
More than half of the people also agreed that they work twice as much when traveling on business.
Yet, 60 percent report feeling free to do whatever they want when on the road, which gives them an empowering sense of freedom.
And then there's going home. The survey found that business travel leads to happiness, increased self-confidence and a deeper appreciation of family, friends and personal time upon their return, says Buckley of Fairfield Inn and Suites.
"A lot of travelers complain about airport security and travel getting harder, but frequent business travelers enjoy the experience," she says. "That is what surprised us the most."
The survey found some gender differences.
Men, for instance, "are significantly more likely than women to feel confident and calm" when preparing for a business trip, while women "are more likely to feel stressed and nervous."
Women are more likely than men "to prioritize taking care of matters at home" after hearing about an upcoming business trip.
Travel Habits of Men and Women
Women say packing is their first task, while men say booking a hotel is. Women also are more likely than men to send a family member their itinerary to ensure people know where they are on business trips.
Sixty-three percent of male business travelers say they often travel alone. That compares to 48 percent of female business travelers.
There were some age differences, too.
Business travelers aged 18-34 are more likely than older counterparts to send a friend their travel schedule and update their status on Facebook , Twitter or other social networks.
Younger business travelers also are more likely than older travelers to travel with colleagues.
Nearly half of business travelers, particularly parents and younger business travelers, take along items that remind them of home, such as photos, children's arts or crafts, or letters from loved ones.
Electric chargers, power cords and toothbrushes are the most forgotten travel items.
When it comes to picking a hotel, the travelers say comfort is their top priority, followed by getting a good night's rest and choosing a warm and inviting place.
More than half say they choose a hotel that helps them accomplish their business objectives, and 48 percent pick a hotel that is "the best value for the money."
And there's a reason hotels push their frequent-guest programs. Membership and points plays a major role, the travelers say. Nearly a third say they always book a hotel affiliated with their frequent-guest program, and 39 percent often do.