Travel\’s Blind Spot


One of the best engagements of my consulting career was in Switzerland. I thought I would be there for just a few weeks when I was sent to help the engagement team. However, as soon as I got there, a longer-term role presented itself, and I ended up spending over 18 months on the engagement. It was a very high profile assignment, it was great for my career, and it was an awesome life experience. 

I was based in Zurich, which is an amazing city and one of the best places imaginable for an out-of-town assignment. There were direct flights from DFW, the city was clean and safe, and the amenities (hotel, restaurants, etc.) were top-notch. Zurich is a bit expensive, but that’s not a concern when you’re traveling for business. 

Zurich was also an excellent springboard to see all of Europe: it’s a quick train ride to see the wonders of Switzerland, and some of the world’s greatest cities are a short flight away. 

My colleagues on the engagement made the very most of Zurich’s central location. Every weekend they were traveling somewhere new, and the log of their travels would make a Europhile drool.

But there was one gaping hole in the itineraries of my peers. Each of them had managed to miss one of the most wonderful cities in all of Europe. It was beautiful, rich with culture and history, and compact enough to see its highlights in a single weekend. Though many of my peers were on the engagement for months, they completely missed experiencing the charms and sights of this fantastic city.

Which city, you ask?

It was Zurich, of course.

If we had been based in Paris, or London, or Rome, or Vienna, you can guarantee everyone on the engagement would have spent a weekend visiting Zurich. But when we were based there, everyone was in a desperate rush to go anywhere else each weekend. As people would roll off the engagement, sometimes with no warning, they would realize that they had missed seeing even the highlights of the city in which they’d lived for months. They might come to me (as I had spent many a weekend drinking deep from the delights of Zurich) for a recommended speed tour, but they always fell short of experiencing its full glory. 

My younger son and I were thinking of heading out of town this weekend, but soccer schedules are forcing us to stay local. While Dallas is a bit short of tourist wonders, that has never seemed to stop us when we travel to other cities. If we can have a wonderful weekend in Oklahoma City or Little Rock, anything is possible, right?

One of my son’s excellent travel tricks is to pizza tour a new city. We’ll sample multiple pizza restaurants and have deep philosophical discussions on which pizza is the best. That forces us to a) find the best pizza restaurants in the city, rather than just convenient ones, and b) eat a lot of pizza.

I just discovered that Dallas is home to two of the top 101 pizza restaurants in the country. I’ve never been to either of them, and since they’re not that convenient, would never have gone. But guess where we’re dining this weekend? 🙂

People have probably spent a lot of time and money coming to visit wherever it is you live. If you’re not traveling this weekend, join them (and do not, under any circumstances, style it a “staycation”.) Sightsee your hometown while there’s still a chance.

4 thoughts on “Travel\’s Blind Spot”

  1. Hi Paul,

    Nice to know that you spent some time in Switzerland. Have you had the chance to learn some German?

    I do agree, and unfortunately, I have done the same in the past. There is a quote that says that The Grass Is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence.

    I had the luck to live in some very nice cities so far and I do regret to do not have explored more. Somethings we just realize when it is too late.

    Lesson learned. At the current location, I’m trying to explore the maximum that the region offers. So far we are doing fine!

    Freundliche Grüße

    1. Hi Odysseus

      Yes, Switzerland was amazing. I made a valiant attempt to learn German, but I gave it up rather early in the process. I was disheartened when every attempt I made got a response in English better than my own 🙂 Even the native German speakers with me on the engagement (from Germany) had a bit of trouble with the Swiss German, and with an all-English-speaking engagement team, there wasn’t much of a forcing function.

      I’m glad you are drinking deep from the well of your current location. As you say, lesson learned, and missing out on easy opportunities in one location makes us wiser for the next one.

      Viel danke!

  2. Great point. I’ve lived in the same city for nearly 20 years now, and I *still* haven’t seen all the cool stuff there is to do around here. (Granted: The weather can be kind of limiting)

    Why spend thousands of dollars to fly overseas when there’s plenty of cool experiences in your own hometown!

    1. Indeed! And remember that if you came from very far away to see your fair burg, you wouldn’t allow the weather to stop you. When the opportunities are always there, it can be easy to justify a delay.

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