Business travelers are the real travelers? Maybe in Iraq…

In terms of the literature of business travel, Britain’s Peter Biddlecombe has always had the market sort of cornered.

In titles like Very Funny, Now Change Me Back Again, Travels with My Briefcase: Around the World on Expenses, A Nice Time Being Had By All and French Lessons in Africa, Biddlecombe maintains that the only true travelers in the world are business travelers. The reason? They don’t mess about with sightseeing, museums, guidebooks, Michelin restaurants, etc. Rather they arrive with a purpose: they hit the ground running, interacting with the local culture from the very beginning, and in the time spent in board rooms and convention centers the business traveler can see and interact with the very engines that drive a country.

So he says. You can certainly argue the other side. But picking Biddlecombe’s books off the shelf, I’m always surprised that his short tales are, well, entertaining — and they are about business travel! It helps that Biddlecombe is often doing business in deepest Africa, in a Bedouin village in Saudi Arabia or Yemen, or on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East.

Some of that flavor is found in this nice piece from Business Traveler about the fact that business travel is picking up in Baghdad, of all places. The intrepid correspondent gives you a step-by-step account of what it’s like to show up in a war zone to do business. The opening, detailing the corkscrew dive of the airplane into Baghdad International (to avoid surface-to-air missiles, presumably) definitely evoked Biddlecombe.

So, check out some of Biddlecombe’s books, if you’re looking for a different take on travel writing. And read about business travel in Iraq here.