Picture this: You are watching an old-timey, black-and-white film from the mid-20th century. The setting is an elaborately decorated hotel lobby.
A man in a suit with neatly combed hair and wearing a freshly pressed suit approaches the reception desk.
The receptionist looks up, smiles, and says, “Good evening Mr. Carlson, are you here for business or leisure this time?”
Regardless of where we are going or what the purpose of our trip is, if we are traveling, we will likely be asked this same question at some point.
Be it an online form or a curious flight attendant, we will be asked to answer whether we are traveling for business reasons or simply to enjoy ourselves.
The question is straightforward. However, how to answer it is less so.
If you are traveling for work, for example to attend a conference or to meet a potential investor, how should you respond?
Should you say you are “traveling for business”? Or is it more correct to say that you are “traveling on business”? Or are both correct?
These questions will be answered in great detail below.
Is it correct to say, “Traveling for business”?
It is correct to say that you are “traveling for business” when business is your reason for traveling. To say that you are “traveling for business” is, therefore, an appropriate answer to the question, “What are you traveling for?”
Is it correct to say, “Traveling on business”?
It is correct to say that you are “traveling on business.” This expression is mostly used to talk about being in a specific location “on business,” or of being “here on business.” The use of the preposition “on” in this context comes from how we speak about business trips, namely, “I am on a business trip.”
When to use “Traveling on business” and when to use “Traveling for business”
It is not unusual to hear someone ask, “Are you here on business?” This question essentially means the same thing as “Are you here for business?”
However, the phrases “Traveling on business” and “Traveling for business” are not completely interchangeable, and there are instances in which using one is more appropriate than using the other.
For example, in the context of the question, “Are you here for business or pleasure?”, or alternatively, “Are you here for business or leisure?” you need to use for and not on.
This is because while you can use on for business, you cannot use it for pleasure or leisure. It would be incorrect to ask, “Are you here on pleasure?”
Another time when it would be more appropriate to use “for business” than “on business,” is in the example “I am traveling for business reasons.” It would be incorrect to say, “I am traveling on business reasons.”
This is because you do something for a reason, not on a reason.
It is preferable to say, “I will be traveling for business once a week,” than to say, “I will be traveling on business once a week.”
Neither is incorrect, but most people would agree that the former way of saying this flows better than the latter.
An example of a situation in which it would be more appropriate to say, “Traveling on business,” than to say “Traveling for business” is when speaking about being in a specific city or location.
It is more natural to say, “I will be in London on business in January” than to say, “I will be in London for business in January.”
While both are technically correct, the former phrasing sounds more intuitive and should be used where possible.
How to use “Traveling on business” in a sentence
Henry: How many times have you been here on business?
Anthony: I’ve traveled here on business four times already. Next time I come, I swear it’ll just be to visit you.
How to use “Traveling for business” in a sentence
Henri: I feel like traveling somewhere this nice for business is like dancing with the devil. I’m so tempted to just go sit on the beach.
Heloise: Oh, give yourself a break, you work too hard! You are allowed to take a few hours off work, even if you are on a business trip.
Flight attendant: Will you be visiting family in Chicago?
Passenger: No, I wish I were here for leisure. Unfortunately, however, I am traveling for business.
Flight attendant: Oh well. It is how it is. Perhaps you can come back sometime as a tourist.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.