It’s almost time for me to hit the road again for business, and I’ll admit, business travel tends to lead to a bit of stress and anxiety – and not for the reasons you may think. I don’t have a fear of flying, I’m not deathly
afraid of bed bugs, and I’m not so attached to home that I can’t be gone for a few days. However, in real life, after the initial “wow” of the fact that you’re a traveling professional and get off the status high horse, you come to realize that business trips are exhausting as they take you out of your norm – or is this just me?
It’s true. I travel to some pretty amazing places for business. I’ve been to France, Arizona, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Orlando, a small town in Minnesota, and Chicago – all within less than two years. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t appreciate the warmer weather Phoenix and Cali brought during November and the warmer temps of France during the Snowpacolypse 2014 meets polar vortex. And if I didn’t say I didn’t
appreciate the culture of active, urban of DC, I wouldn’t be giving you the full picture. And I’d be remiss to not say there was some business benefit in each trip. Each trip serves a purpose – whether it be for learning, selling, or totally flooding social media with the latest and greatest at #ConferneceCon2014. (Can you guess what I do for a living?)
But that’s all the pretty side.
Brace yourself. This post is a bit of a rant – especially for all the people who think that business travel is cool and say “I wish I traveled for my job.” Let me give you the real deal on what it really looks like.
It’s a vacation. Poppysquat. The days are long and full of work. The food is not your top choice. And you’re away from your closest friends and loved ones – you know the people you would take along on a vacation.
Top annoyances and complications (think of doing some of these things multiple times a year, sometimes just weeks apart.)
- The anxiety of leaving loved ones. Once a year may be fine, but when those times skyrocket, it makes me a bit anxious. I want to cry a bit.
- Long days. Between setup, shut down, learning sessions, selling, photography, posting, lunch, dinner, extracurricular conference events, and almost always being on guard for the next quotable/hot moment, exhaustion quickly sets in. The lesson: It’s part of the role. Suck it up, and always have snacks nearby.
- Flight delays, connections, and lugging around carry-on luggage through multiple airports – including into restaurants and restrooms. The lesson: Travel with someone, if possible (they can watch your luggage), as soon as you hear about a delay, see if you can change your flight, and try to book connecting flights with the shortest, yet realistic layover.
- MISSING A CONNECTION. Especially when there are no more connections that night. The lesson: I caught a ride with ladies I didn’t know. I was tired, upset and adventurous. I just wanted to get home. I don’t recommend you do this. It may be better to just get a hotel.
- The act of booking the travel. Choosing airlines, flight times and hotels is a bit daunting – especially when traveling to unfamiliar cities. Seriously, how close or far away is the hotel from the venue. The lesson: Know as much about the venue location as possible, book your hotel as close as possible, be informed about your options for transportation.
- Taking cabs. I live in a city where driving is the norm. Therefore, any means of public transportation is honestly both scary and intimidating. However, a cab may also be the easiest form of transportation in cities you don’t know. The lesson: In cities you don’t know, use a cab. Be sure to look for the cab license and know you don’t have to use any transportation in which you’re unfamiliar. Remember you can also track the trip using GPS on your phone.
- Getting lost. Google maps can only get you so far. Yes, I’ve been in a pretty spooky place before. The lesson: Always be aware of your surroundings and take caution when going places alone. It’s always better to have a buddy.
- Compromise and the one-accord schedule. We eat together. We leave together. We do all together. For an independent person like me who actually NEEDS her alone time, this can be a bit overwhelming. Not to mention, I don’t always want to eat at the consensus restaurant. What if I just wanted a burger? The lesson: Suck it up and be a team player, but also be sure to set aside some alone time. However, if you’re anywhere outside of your hotel, it’s best to have at least one other person with you.
- Jet lag: Please tell me how my brain is supposed to function properly when 9am in France is 3am local time? I’m not sure if there’s any amount of coffee that can cure this. The lesson: You tell me.
- Leaving on bad terms. Your trip doesn’t care whether or not you had an argument with your significant other. It’s your job to go on as if nothing happens knowing your Skype session with the boo may not be so kosher. The lesson: It’s life. Try to avoid arguments if possible, but know that timing isn’t always perfect.
- Those dang travel-sized containers and toothbrushes. How many times do I have to transfer contents from the regular-sized container to the travel-sized container. When you begin to travel a ton, this annoys the crap out of me. The lesson: Keep the items in the containers in the baggies, waiting for the next trip. And always have extra toothbrush covers on hand. This may save you a trip to the “travel-sized” section of the store.
- Work electronics. This is the biggest pain-in-the-butt. In addition to everything else I bring, I also generally bring a laptop, laptop charger, iPad, high quality camera, camera charger and battery, camera case – all which come along in a backpack or in my carry-on suitcase. The lesson: Take a wristlet or wallet instead of a purse. It’s one less thing to worry about. The wallet fits easily inside a backpack and any other items you may normally carry in a purse may also fit inside of the backpack.
- Everyday work doesn’t cease. You will continue to get email, and your other tasks will be waiting for you when you get back. This means it’ll take some time to catch up and get back into the groove. The lesson: Turn your out-of-office message on, mark your calendar away, check your email when you’re away, respond to messages that require only a quick response, delete messages the messages that don’t require a response or that you’ve handled, and work on the flight and during layover, on breaks, or when you’re back at your hotel. I know this isn’t fun, but it’ll help with the recovery time.
For added pleasure: Here’s my packing challenge.
Packing. Hmmm. What I can fit in a carry on becomes its own personal challenge where the security of your personal items and avoiding baggage claim is the coveted prize. My challenge looks a little like this: Clothes, workout clothes, gym-shoes, multiple pairs of work-approved shoes, make-up, airplane-approved contact solution, glasses, contacts, flat irons, pressing comb, comb, brush, toiletries, and how many supplies do I need to transfer from a full-sized container to an airplane-approved container. And if it’s that special time – which for some reason seems to be oh-too-often when I’m traveling – you have to pack your special products. Oh yes, and let’s not forget our work tools.. And let’s not forget money, credit/debit cards, medical insurance card, and something to do on the flight – that is if you’re not working on the flight.