As I get ready for my fourth work trip so far this year, I was thinking back on a conversation I had recently with a client.
“You are so lucky to get to travel for work! That is my total fantasy! It must be so great!”
I stopped myself from rolling my eyes.
By no means am I a road warrior. I have a couple of friends who basically have jobs that mean they are traveling almost every Sunday thru Thursday, but over the last year, my work travel has increased to almost one trip a month. I am no stranger to this work travel thing, having done my fair share of trainings, going to alternate offices in other parts of the country and attending conferences. So for those of you who spend the majority of your time in one place, dreaming about that traveling gypsy dream job, here is the truth about work travel:
Unless you are Kid Rock and you have your own private plane, there is nothing fun anymore about flying. My last trip, I flew American Airlines from a one day client visit in North Carolina. My first flight landed in Phoenix and I was more than ready to get on my flight back to Burbank airport. It had already been a long day. I became concerned when the boarding information at my gate never came up. The plane arrived, but there was still no hint that they were going to be flying to Burbank any time soon. That is when they announced they needed 30 people to volunteer to be bumped off the flight because, WAIT FOR IT…….The flight was going to be too heavy.
I had just started the South Beach Diet, so I wanted to let them know I was down about five pounds and would that help? I have been flying since I was 9 years old and I have to tell you, this was a first.
We proceeded to play “The Price Is Right” for the next two hours, as they continued to raise the flight voucher amounts to get people to stay overnight. If they would have rented us a bus and driven us to Burbank, we might have made it sooner. They finally topped out at $1400.00 in travel credit and we got to head out. Had I not had a full day of meetings the next day that couldn’t be rescheduled, I might have considered taking the bump. The other detriment was the thought of flying the same airline again made me sick to my stomach. Spending ten hours in planes and airports because American Airlines was carrying something in the cargo section that was more important than passengers who plaid for their tickets will do that to you.
UNLIMITED EXPENSES ARE AS RARE AS SOMEONE ON HOUSE HUNTERS WHO WANTS A CLOSED FLOOR PLAN
Where you stay, how it gets paid and how much gets paid, really varies, depending on who you work for. I have worked for a real range, from one company that didn’t have an issue with paying $200.00 for an employee who threw up in a cab because they were drunk to the employer who seriously couldn’t understand why breakfast had to cost more than $5.00.
In general, you do get to stay at nicer hotels, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes you even have to share a room with a co-worker, which being an only child who never had a roommate, is the thing I hate the most.
It is also not unusual for the expectation to be YOU front the expenses and then fill out an expense report. One company I worked for had a policy of making you wait for almost a month to be reimbursed. My policy became not traveling anymore without a cash travel advance and I eventually left the company.
IT ISN’T ALL BAD
The biggest plus, is you do get to travel to places you may have never gotten to see. It still isn’t a vacation, because you do actually WORK when you travel. Doing training, working a conference, client visits, can be more intense and exhausting then being at the office. Late nights out club hopping in a new city isn’t conducive to getting up at 700 am to do an 800 am training, but there is some off time and I have gotten to explore some cool cities. The best part is if you can combine it with a little weekend time. You still have the cost of your hotel and meals, but you save the airfare and that can be a big part of that getaway expense.
Not to mention not getting on ANOTHER plane to have a little down time!