yours, tiramisu

business travel is not as fun as it sounds

I chose my current job mostly because I liked the idea of traveling for work. Doesn't jet-setting around the world, staying in ritzy hotels, and dining at fancy places sound fun to you too? A year of semi-frequent business travel later, the excitement of it all has started to die down. I don't regret my choice, but now I know firsthand that Dad was right—business travel is not nearly as great I made it out to be growing up.

You don't get to choose where you travel.

This is one of the first realities that set in after I started talking to my coworkers and seeing where people traveled to. The vast majority of business travel (at my company, anyway) is not to somewhere glamorous. You're far more likely to end up in some back-country town in Arkansas than in Paris or Costa Rica. You have little say over where you get to go—it's almost purely luck.

Even if you do luck out and get picked to travel to some exotic destination, that comes with its own set of problems. If you make the trip frequently you'll probably have to deal with crossing many time zones. And time differences mean you'll have to sacrifice sleep and/or free time to make meetings in their time zone.

You won't get time to explore.

When you travel you don't get much time to yourself. You'll either be working long hours at work or schmoozing with coworkers and/or clients. I usually find myself with less than an hour or two of free time after the day is over around 8 or 9, which is not the most convenient time to explore the streets. Even if you want to take advantage of those hours, you have to fight through the exhaustion from a long day of work (& possibly travel).

Travel demands a lot of your (personal) time and energy.

Traveling will eat at your personal time. Often you can either give up hours of sleep to catch an early flight or opt to sacrifice precious free time instead flying in the night before.

You'll also spend a lot of in-between time: hundreds of hours packing, waiting in lines, stuck in traffic, cramped in small seats, and simply dealing with inconveniences. This is time you don't get to do what you want, and it's draining not only physically, but mentally too.

Loyalty points (and status) aren't worth that much.

All the advertising and marketing just make you feel like they do. I myself am not exempt from the dopamine boost you get when you rack up hotel points or unlock the next airline loyalty status. But the truth is, all these hotel and airlines points are only worth a couple hundred dollars each year. How would you feel if you got a raise of a couple hundred dollars? Don't think of them as special just because they have a fancy label attached or because you didn't spend your own money to get them. You paid for them with your own time and energy.

The amount of satisfaction you gain from dining out is subject to the law of diminishing marginal returns.

I love trying new foods. But when you travel for business, you have to eat out for every single meal. And dining out so many times consecutively like this gets old fast. You quickly tire of all the butter and salt. So you'll either eat junk and feel terrible, or learn just how hard it is to eat healthily when dining out in America. There's a reason so many people who start traveling for work pack on the pounds like green college freshmen.

It's hard for me to completely dissuade people from pursuing travel-heavy jobs, but I do want to temper people's expectations about how pleasant business travel truly is. Sure, it can be fun at times, but it should not be your primary reason for choosing one job over another.

#business #english #travel #work