The Belt of Calms

and get ready to weather what’s ahead

Business Traveler (USA) - - TALKING POINT -

The an­nual rit­ual of leave-tak­ing is in full swing. School­books are closed for another year, the pools are open and in the twin­kling of an eye, mighty road war­riors are trans­formed into leisure trav­el­ers, as fam­i­lies across Amer­ica strike out on their hot weather hol­i­days. The sum­mer busi­ness travel dol­drums are upon us. Which is obliquely ap­pro­pri­ate to our sub­ject mat­ter, since ‘dol­drums’is it­self a travel word, de­rived – as so many of our col­or­ful col­lo­quial ex­pres­sions are – from the lan­guage of the sea. The Dol­drums is an area in both the At­lantic and Pa­cific Oceans just north of the equa­tor, sand­wiched in be­tween the trade winds.

Also known by the vaguely more omi­nous-sound­ing name‘the equa­to­rial belt of calms,’in this part of the ocean the heat of the sun causes air to rise rather than blow hor­i­zon­tally. As a re­sult, winds vir­tu­ally dis­ap­pear, and ves­sels un­der sail could be trapped in the calms for days or even weeks. Cast your mem­ory back to your high school days when you may have read The Rime of the An­cient Mariner, and you get the pic­ture.

But while we think of the dol­drums as be­ing un­ex­cit­ing, even op­pres­sive calm, the ris­ing heated air also begets un­pre­dictable weather like vi­o­lent thun­der­storms and squalls; this re­gion of the ocean is where most hur­ri­canes are born. Thus sailors in these parts were faced with the un­en­vi­able choice of ei­ther no winds at all or po­ten­tial typhoons.

What­ever the ori­gins of the word, the sum­mer dol­drums give us time to catch a breath and con­sider the larger de­vel­op­ments that sur­round the busi­ness of busi­ness travel; pri­or­ity ques­tions that are so im­por­tant they defy the use of mere buzz words like‘trend’and ‘game-changer.’To set you up for some thought-pro­vok­ing sum­mer read­ing, we’ve got more than a few of those big-pic­ture top­ics in this is­sue of Busi­ness Trav­eler.

No doubt glob­al­iza­tion is a long-term de­vel­op­ment in busi­ness that is con­stantly evolv­ing. Ex­plor­ing new po­ten­tial in far-flung places is in­creas­ingly at the top of the busi­ness trav­eler’s to-do list, so we give you an up­date on Shang­hai’s Free Trade Zone ( Lev­el­ing the Play­ing Field, page 30) and a con­ti­nent-wide guide to one of the world’s up-and-com­ing re­gions ( The A to Z of Busi­ness in

Africa, page 24). Mo­bil­ity has rev­o­lu­tion­ized the travel ex­pe­ri­ence, but we’re find­ing this tech­nol­ogy is a two-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a tool that can vastly ex­pand our un­der­stand­ing of the peo­ple we meet and the des­ti­na­tions we visit ( New Places, New Sto­ries, page 40). But as its uses pen­e­trate more and more of our per­sonal, fi­nan­cial and busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties, for the un­aware, it can also leave the path open for all sorts of may­hem ( Caveat Vi­a­tor, page 58).

The in­no­va­tive spirit is a sub­ject of end­less fas­ci­na­tion, now more than ever. Whether it’s unique food choices in­vad­ing our air­ports ( Con­course Cui­sine, page 54) or ex­cep­tional ex­pe­ri­ences in out-of-the-way ho­tels ( Break­ing Away, page 14), or even an en­tire city ded­i­cated to think­ing‘beta’( In­no­va­tion in Am­s­ter­dam, page 36), what’s new in the world of travel is ex­ceed­ing ex­pec­ta­tions.

Your re­quired sum­mer read­ing list is all set. So it’s time to sit back by the pool and soak in the va­ri­ety of sto­ries and view­points as you soak up the rays. But take care – don’t let the sum­mer dol­drums be­calm you too much.

The winds of change are al­ready a-blowin’.


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