Work Travel. Is it really as good as people think?

If you’ve read any of my previous posts you will have picked up that travel has always played a big part of my career both in my own business and when I’ve worked for other people. My professional career since leaving sixth form is now scarily in its 10th year which has flown by and I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world with the US being the most prominent country in recent years with 20+ trips to New York plus visits to a number of other states for conferences and business meetings.

People often say to me that it must be great to travel for work, after all it’s not paid out of my own pocket right? We’ll to some extent yes, however personal time is often limited on business trips so what you actually get to see is fairly limited. I’ve posted 2 maps with this post to give you a bit more of an idea of the reality of the situation. The 1st of which is the places that I have visited for work and the 2nd a map of places which I’ve really explored with any personal time and got to know much of the place and you will notice the stark difference. A trip for business is always for a purpose and you often end up being in that place for the amount of time required to fulfil that purpose. Often the purpose is for a conference, project or meeting all of which you need to be back into the office as quickly as possible to continue discussions, plan or write up findings before they become lost from memory so I may get to visit 1 or 2 tourist places in a couple of hours I have spare but that’s it before I need to head back and continue my work for the purpose that I went on the trip in the first place.

To give you an idea of how a trip generally works for me on a recent trip to New York I was spending 8-10 hours a day in the data centre then going back to the hotel to freshen up, order room service, and put in another 2-4 hours work with the TV on in the background. Not only does the day tend to be packed with work as that’s why you are away in the first place but you then also have to catch up on e-mails and other work going on back at home. Add to that juggling things at home and keeping in contact with family but you can really see why even when there is the bit of spare time all I want to do is put my feet up for a bit.

I have been able to tag the odd holiday or bit of personal time on to a work trip but as you will see from the difference in my maps that’s very little in comparison to the amount of travel that I do. That being said I have been very lucky to experience different lifestyles and cultures, albeit brief, in a wide variety of places some of which have surprised me and others disappointed. There are many places that I’ve been to that I wouldn’t have ever considered for a holiday or city break unless I’d been there for work. One place that springs to mind would be Chicago which is a fantastic city and I’d love to go back there for a few more days at some point and for some more deep pan pizza!

Over the years and with travel increasing the downside I’ve noticed is that when you decide to go on holiday the airport is one of the least places that you really feel like going to and trips closer to home such as Center Parcs have certainly been on the rise in recent years. You also start to develop your own routine for the airport including timings, process etc and when you end up travelling on holiday with other people I find I can end up being the group concierge getting people through the airport to the point my friends have nicknamed me “The Concierge” whenever it comes to travel. How many times I’ve had to tell people the arrival 3 hours before your flight isn’t required and even long haul you can turn up 50 minutes before I’ve lost count. I’m also a person that gets comfortable with doing things a certain way so when I travel with other people it somewhat throws a spanner in the works.

This post might all seem doom and gloom but in all honesty even with what little time I do get to do touristy things it’s still more than most people and the business travel life can be somewhat more glamorous than holiday travel once you earn frequent flyer miles and free hotel stays/upgrades. I almost always fly British Airways business class at an average of about £900 to New York as part of a flight and hotel package which is only £350 more than your average economy seat. I also regularly get free flight and hotel upgrades and free night stays at various hotels by being loyal to a brand. In addition to the flights and hotels I’ve been to gold mines, the empire state building, the pyramids in Cairo, Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world) and much more. Even if I only get a short glimpse at a new place it’s still amazing to think about the places I’ve been and the opportunities that I’ve had as a result.

As a final wrap up I guess it also helps that I enjoy time to myself and am more than happy to just chill out in a hotel room after a long days work with a coffee and a Dunkin Donuts! I’m also starting to realise in writing this post that it’s starting to sound like I’m being sponsored for product placement especially by British Airways who feature in a number of my posts as it’s where I tend to write them mid-flight! This one in particular comes courtesy of a transatlantic flight to the US by BA! Maybe a re-tweet wouldn’t go a miss if you’re reading this BA marketing team J. On that note I’ve also included my BA flight path below which shows the extent of my travel with BA and that’s not even all of it!

Places Visited

Places Explored (More than half a day)

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