The Belt of Calms
and get ready to weather what’s ahead
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’.