As someone who has been an international business traveller for over a decade I have a pretty good idea of what the good and bad things about the job are.
Prior to travelling with work my travel involved leisure travel, the highlight being a month inter-railing around Europe whilst still studying at University.
So I detail below some of the pro’s and con’s I’ve discovered.
1. It’s all paid for!
Yes, it is a fabulous fact that I get to see the world at my company’s expense. In my current role I work for a London listed PLC company and have visited our sites in 6 continents around the world. All paid for by my employer. I have an aspiration to visit all 7 continents yet somehow I don’t think my work will set up office in Antarctica, well not yet anyway.
2. A bit of luxury
Well I suppose it goes hand in hand with point number 1 but this is all down to your employer. I’m fortunate enough in that if I travel across continents then I fly Business Class! Also I stay in some pretty decent hotels. Compare this to an independent traveller who can only probably afford a hostel.
Also on many of my trips I have to hire a car, also paid for. I’ve had the chance to test drive a range of cars so can form an opinion before I buy my next car.
3. Reward Points
Yes, this is a real perk if it is allowed in your company policy. I collect frequent flier points (well over a million in my time as a business traveller). I’m also a frequent guest card holder for many hotel chains (some even give complimentary upgrades based on my status). In addition I’m a Hertz No. 1 Club Gold card holder so accumulate points towards free car rentals. With all of these planning my own holiday can be a lot cheaper.
4. Places I wouldn’t think of
When you travel with work you go where work sends you, this can often mean places you’ve never heard of. For example I’d been to India for pleasure and seen Delhi and Agra (Taj Mahal). Yet now with work I go to a place called Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Not somewhere I’d heard of yet it has a famous temple and some fantastic hotels and scenery.
Also I visit numerous places in America and whilst I fly into Pisa in Italy I actually stay and work at Livorno. This is a fantastic town which most tourists miss.
5. Interact with locals
When you are on holiday or a backpacker you have a high risk of just talking to fellow holiday makers or tourist agents who maybe more concerned about the kick backs and tips then what you want. When I travel with work I spend the day talking with my colleagues who are local to the town or city I’m in. I’ve lost count of the times when without prompting they recommend places to eat or places to go. These are often places they like themselves so they know they are going to be good. They are also good sources for getting that sort after ticket to the big sporting event or show.
Well it is not all good and there are a few down sides. Here are five but I can think of more.
1. Away from family and friends
Whilst travelling for work it is very rare to travel with family and friends, unless you all work for the same company. This can be hard on you and loved ones as you’ll miss each other and are forced apart for various periods of time. Thank goodness for Skype to make this a little bit more manageable.
Your social life is also likely to suffer as well. You won’t always be able to attend the latest party or event at home. If you are not careful then people might assume you won’t be around so start forgetting to invite you to things.
2. Won’t see much of where you are
Well this isn’t always the case but can often be so. My trips vary from a few days to a few weeks/months. Typically my trip will be a week and involve arriving late on a Sunday and flying out on a Friday. So basically the routine is airport to hotel; hotel to office; office to hotel; hotel to office and so on. There is little time to explore your surroundings unless you are staying over a weekend or have booked in some personal leave.
3. Go where work wants you to
Well you’ve got to concede something for all this luxury and it tends to be choice. I’m restrained by the fact that I visit where work is based or feels I should go. I’ve been to America numerous times, sometimes to the point where immigration suspect I might be a local. If you don’t like where you have to go then tough, you better go otherwise you won’t get paid.
4. Still have a home to manage
When I was single this proved to be quite a challenge at times. With frequent travel over many years I still had a home to look after and bills to pay. Each time I came home I’d wade through a pile of post and be always playing catch up. Routine house chores are no fun at the best of times, yet when you just get home from a long trip it is probably the last thing you want to do.
5. Forced to be with people
To be fair I have some great colleagues but let’s be honest I can’t choose them like I can choose my friends. When away from home they are hosting and I’m kind of “stuck” with them. If you don’t like one or two of them then you have to bear it out until it is time to go home.
I find different locations take on their hospitality role in different ways. Some give me freedom and leave me to it whilst others feel obliged to take me out to eat virtually every night. To be honest I can handle a business meal out maybe once or twice a week but that’s my fill. I want my own downtime to do what I want and unwind. After all that is what I do at home and to be fair I’ll be on another business trip in a week or two so don’t want constant three course meals and forced company.
There are many more pro’s and con’s to being a business traveller but these are just some of the ones I experience most often.
About the author:-
The Guy has been an international business traveller for over a decade and visited 6 continents. Prior to his current role he lived and worked in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for 17 months. To find out more about his travels be sure to visit his website http://www.flightsandfrustration.com
or follow him on twitter @TheGuy37796972