I was talking with a girl in her 20’s, just out of college and in her first real job. When she heard that I lived elsewhere and not anywhere near the city where I was working, we got into a conversation of traveling for business and how fun it must be.
Her: Wow, how exciting to travel every week!
Me: I’d be excited to be home for awhile … In fact, I’d be ecstatic to be home for just one week! Two weeks at home and I’d probably never want to go back to work.
Her: You really must save on utilities, food, etc., right?
Me: Yes, but I pay for someone to clean the house, take care of the landscaping, clean the refrigerator after everything has turned green from my lack of being home… and I’d pay for even more services (grocery shopping, namely) if this was offered where I live. And my husband is in the house whether I am or not, so the utilities are virtually the same whether I’m home or not.
Her: You must have a ton of air miles!
Me: Yes, but the last thing I want to do when I’m not traveling for work is to get on another plane! And even when I do want to use air miles for an international or domestic flight, it’s virtually impossible to find the number of seats I want on the days I want to go. So the miles keep accumulating.
Her: How fun to eat out all of the time … and have it paid for!
Me: Yes, I get to eat out at all kinds of restaurants. However, I’d like nothing more than to stand at my kitchen counter and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or mac-n-cheese. And I really do enjoy cooking gourmet dinners for my family. I can no longer stand the decisions on where to go for dinner while on the road. I have too many more important things to do and think about to spend time on deciding where to eat. So I usually end up eating at my hotel and eating one of just a few items on their menu that I can have made to order to be as healthy as possible. And keeping the receipts to get it all into my expenses is a chore that ends up being done in my valuable home time over the weekend.
Her: You’re only here four days a week? You get a long weekend every weekend?
Me: Yes, I’m only in my work-city four days a week, but I’m often in another city on the 5th day or working 10 hours from home on that day. That leaves about 48 hours at home each week to spend quality time with my husband, talk with my kids, catch up on my sleep, connect with a friend now and then, go through the mail, pay the bills, grocery shop, cook enough meals to leave my husband dinners for the week, exercise, do my laundry, and on and on and on. I only got into my pool three times last summer. I never got to the beach even though Daytona is only 45 minutes away. Yes, I could make the time, but then something else more important wouldn’t get done. Maybe I’ll schedule a week or two of vacation just to stay at home and catch up on things and float in the pool with no internet connection or cell phone nearby.
She went back to her new computer at her new desk starting off on her new career.
I went back to my desk and thought about all the things I didn’t tell her:
That travel is now firmly in my blood and I can’t ever imagine not having a traveling job;
That I’ve seen cities and countries that I never would have seen had it not been for the business or vacation travel opportunities;
That I’ve made friends all over the country and even the world;
That I love the first-class upgrades, the concierge lounges at the hotels and the airline clubs at the airport;
That I love when my husband can meet me in any city on any weekend, as it doesn’t matter whether I travel back home or not at the end of a workweek;
That my daughter and I have a girls’ weekend a couple of times a year in different locales; and
That my job is always challenging and exciting due to the ever-changing work environments.
I had the same thoughts as she did back many years ago when I was in my early 20’s and I was working with a consultant who flew in each week to work at my company. In fact, working with a traveling consultant is what got my interest going for a travel job.
If I could, would I have taken a different fork in the road now that I know all that I do about travel? No…. I’d do it all over again. Another day we’ll talk about the challenges of raising kids while being gone each week, but even with those tremendous challenges, I’d still be right where I am today – juggling my travel life with my personal life.
Your thoughts on the glamorous lives we lead?