It took a few days for frequent traveler George Chen to recover from an exhausting business trip that took him around the world in just more than a week four years ago.
Chen, a management consultant in Chicago, left O'Hare airport on a Friday afternoon and flew to San Francisco, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cape Town and London before returning to Chicago eight days later.
"I was away from home eight nights, but I traveled west the entire trip and, with the time zone changes, only slept seven nights, including three on planes," says Chen, who has been traveling on business for 20 years.
Chen's itinerary may not impress Norwegian mobile television executive Gunnar Garfors, who made international news headlines last month by traveling to five continents in 29 hours.
Garfors' trip, though, was a stunt filmed for a documentary. Chen and other USA TODAY Road Warriors — some of the world's most frequent travelers who voluntarily provide travel information — routinely slog to many cities, and continents, week after week on business trips that may seem like record-breaking ordeals to the casual traveler.
And many have been on marathon itineraries that are extraordinary even by their standards. Some trips have been so exhausting that the veteran travelers question whether they could ever do them again, while others keep going and delight in racking up the miles.
Road Warrior Rich Szulewski of Germantown, Tenn., for instance, says his most extensive business trip involved travel to three continents in a week about 10 years ago. He flew to Detroit, then to Amsterdam, where he boarded a train to Maastricht, the Netherlands.
"I spent the night in Maastricht — jet-lagged out of my mind — and the next day took a train back to Amsterdam and boarded a flight to Johannesburg," recalls the manager in the health care industry.
Szulewski stayed two nights in Pretoria, South Africa, and flew back to Amsterdam, Detroit and Memphis.
"Yikes, I'm not sure I could do that again," says Szulewski, who has been a Road Warrior for 15 years and spent about 120 nights away from home last year.
Another Road Warrior, Marilyn Repinski of Gig Harbor, Wash., also traveled on business to three continents in a week in November 2003. She flew to Australia, Indonesia and Hong Kong, returned to the USA and then flew to Antigua, Texas and Los Angeles.
"It was a challenge, but I took it on as an adventure and an opportunity," says Repinski, who works in the health care industry and traveled away from home on business 65 days last year. "The biggest part was planning to get ready for the different climates, cultural considerations and currency."
Road Warrior John Hales of Sunrise, Fla., says his most extensive business trip — which also included some leisure time — involved nine countries in a single week.
Hales, the president of a computer training and consulting company, says he traveled in June 2006 to Germany, the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Lichtenstein, Austria, Switzerland and Scotland.
"It was a lot of fun, and we were exposed to many different cultures and viewpoints," says Hales, who has been a Road Warrior for 19 years and travels away from home on business 150 to 180 days a year.