When I first entered the workforce, it was a goal of mine to travel for my job. I thought it symbolized a level of importance to my position. As the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.” My first job out of college required zero travel. I heard about others traveling and thought it sounded so glamorous. I wanted points and miles and for someone else to foot the bill for my adventures. As a young MBA student, I secured a part-time job helping out a consulting firm. That part-time job turned into a full-time consulting gig, which meant my bags were packed.
I distinctly remember my boss coming to my cube and telling me about my first project, which would require me to travel every week from Monday through Thursday for the next 3-4 months, and potentially longer.
“Great!” I thought. “I’ll finally be earning points and miles and living this exciting high profile lifestyle.” My boss was quick to tell me, “Travel seems sexy at first, but you’ll get over it quickly.” I heard him, but I didn’t listen. I just knew he was wrong. I took all of about 3 weeks for me to be ready to stay home. I couldn’t wake up at 4:30 AM another Monday morning and work until 6 that same night. Early rising was followed by airport security and many travelers with poor airport etiquette. It was exhausting, not to mention the hotel beds were hard and the food was worse.
Yes, I was getting points and miles and learning to maximize them, but I was losing friends and relationships across the board because I was never home to nurture them. Weekends were for catching up, sleeping, and trying to see the few friends I had. If you’d like a better idea of the life of a road warrior, go see George Clooney in Up in the Air.
My wish came true. I got to travel for the next 3 plus years, minus one year off to complete my MBA. Would I do it all over again? At that point and time, I absolutely would. That job was pivotal in shaping me as a professional, and I wouldn’t give it back for anything, and now I'm well equipped with tips to easier travel.
Today I do appreciate some business travel to get a change of scenery and pace and work with people I don’t get to see in person that often, though I don’t long for the 4-day 3-month long stints of travel for a project.