Monday, March 18, 2013

Pit falls of traveling for work

When you think abstractly about traveling for work it sounds great.  The company pays for your airfare, hotel, rental car and gives you a stipend or reimburses you for food. You'll go to new and different places. It will be FUN! It will be EXCITING!

In actuality it will be EXHAUSTING! It will GET OLD!

Most people in airports don't travel weekly, or even monthly. They stop in the middle of the walkway, they let their kids wander all over, they run into people and things with their rolling suitcases.  Want to know a secret?  When you go through security, get in the line with the most business flyers. They know, as do I, how to go through any mental detector without setting it off.  They won't forget to take their laptop or liquids out of their suitcase.  They will have worn shoes that are easy on/easy off and will know that you have to take off your belt, jacket and scarf. Don't, under any circumstance, get in the line with families, seniors who travel yearly at best, groups of teenagers for school or sport trips. If I could fly for work going to airport that only contained other business flyers that would be brilliant.

Staying in hotels sounds like fun too.  You have a restaurant in the lobby, you can get room service, most have a pool, perhaps a sauna, someone will clean up after you every day. It's also not home.  You don't have all your things there.  There may be a fridge in the room but it will have about two square foot capacity. You want to try to eat healthy right?  That holds three yogurts, two apples, a bottle of juice and one of tea, a small carton of milk, a half dozen string cheese and that's about it. Remember, you have to buy things that either does require cooking or you can make using hot water from the coffee maker or potentially a microwave, though I only get a room with a micro about half the time. Wait, you're traveling. You don't have to eat in your room,  you can go out to eat. Most people like the idea of eating out . . . until they've eaten out for two weeks straight.  The food isn't usually the healthiest, and if it is you're surely going over your stipend.  Not to mention that sometimes you want something prepared exactly as you like it. Frito pie with extra cheese, the fritos and chili in layers, a few globs of sour cream and topped with Sri Racha?  Not in a restaurant.

The only time I watch TV (aside from the rare Hulu binge) is when I'm in hotels.  I don't have a TV or cable/dish at home. I'll admit it was fun to watch the Grammy's and the Academy Awards since I happened to have a big, flat screen TV mounted in my room. Unfortunately, I also learned there are shows called "Swamp people" "My 600lb life" and "My Strange Addiction". There was plenty to scare me away from TV watching.  The first week or two I watched TV most nights.  I'd turn it on for noise in the room.  It wasn't long before I was making two or three passes through the roughly 35 channels and seeing absolutely nothing worth watching, and I do think my "worth watch" bar is reasonably low.  I watched a couple nights of Storage Wars marathons after all.

At least you get to see some cool new places right? Not so much.  When you work nine to twelve hour days, it makes it very tough to go see the city after.  Doubly true for small towns where shops close up early. Not to mention I was going to snow based cities in January and February.  With my luck, I'd get sent to Florida in July. 

Lastly, I didn't really exist.  I got a few text messages from friends asking if I'd died or just dropped off the face of the earth. I couldn't make any plans because even if I was going to be home for the weekend, the odds were high that I'd be exhausted. I'd fly in and get to my house about 9:30pm Friday night.  I had to do laundry and repack, hang out with my "kids" Skeeter the dog and BJ the cat, invariably do a few errands, then it was about 4pm on Sunday and time to head back to the airport. I missed beerfests, birthdays and special events.  I missed 80% of snowshoe season.

Fingers crossed I can find a local job and enjoy some time at home, being out and active, seeing my friends and keeping the "kids" company.


  1. I feel you, man. Traveling for work is a nice perk to have once in awhile. But doing it for extended periods of time and one after the other, can be really tiring. Not to mention, as you’ve said, socializing with people is pretty much out of the picture, since you may have to be in another place in a short period of time. You’re lucky if they send you with someone, at least you have a person you actually know everytime you hit a new location.

    Danny Riddell

  2. The novelty does wear off quickly, doesn’t it? While I used to love doing out-of-country work for the company before, it was usually spaced quite evenly year-round. But when it started to happen more frequently, it seemed that I lost touch of my other officemates and some of my friends both in and out the office. Good thing those projects have now been assigned to another person as I’ve moved up the ladder.

    Rowena @ Moonlight Bay Hostel

  3. I’ve personally haven’t experienced that point where you get burned out doing it, though after reading this post, I do notice some of those things happening to me. While they do send me overseas for work, it’s usually with someone else from the department, and it’s usually a short trip if they send me alone. And I guess it helps that the hotels they provide for me is located somewhere that is bustling with activity.