Do you think it is exciting to be on a job that involves travel? It sure is to some extent. Of course, you get to visit many places on work, you can rack up reward points on airlines and hotels and even on your credit card. You get to meet different people assuming your project/work keep changing. But what are the downsides? Many in my opinion. Here are some and you decide if such a job is for you.
- You need to stay away from family and friends. For many people being close to family is a prime criteria for their happiness. Being alone while away isn’t exactly psychologically rewarding. The comfort one has while making decisions as part of a loving family is much more decisive in my opinion. The reason is all the travel and being away adds to stress and one won’t be in exactly a great state of mind.
- You need to get accustomed to different people dynamics. As always there are many whom you will meet you would love to be working with. And then there will be many you could have avoided. This is not just applicable to the workplace but also to other places you visit such as restaurants, airport, hotel, even the roads
- You need to get up early in the morning on the day of travel most likely if you are the Mon-Thu sort of road warrior. Monday, thereof, can be a long day and certainly stressful. You won’t be very productive strictly speaking after many hours of travel. If you add time zone changes to the mix, such stress can be drastic. I am currently travelling from the east coast to the west coast and the three-hour difference is pretty taxing. Clients start to work at 9 AM PST which is Noon EST. And then work goes on till late evening in the client’s time zone. This means you could be working well beyond 9 PM your native time zone after a long travel day. I have had to take calls even after midnight EST making my Mondays a 16-18 hour day sometimes.
- If you come from a smaller city and get to a bigger city for work, you should be prepared to adapt pretty soon. Bigger roads – those six-to-eight lane highways can be very confusing if you are driving late night and with no one on the street. Once I took a red-eye and landed in California like midnight. This was 3 AM my home time. No one on the streets and a bit groggy with sleep deprivation and I took a turn into the opposite lane getting to the hotel. I soon realized and made a U-turn only to realize I was again in the wrong lane before getting back to the correct lane. So early in the morning, there was no traffic and that not only led to the confusion but also saved me getting into an accident. I was clearly fortunate.
- With the time zone change, I now need to drive to hotel from work when it has already gotten dark. With those multi-lane highways and lights glaring into your eyes, and the higher speeds on many roads make it risky to even change lanes. I am talking nearly hundreds of lights staring into your eyes from left to right and then in the back when you try to change lanes. Many times I have missed my turn just to be safe and driven many blocks ahead and spent extra time getting back to the turn.
- California driving is not the norm. San Jose is even worse. The traffic lights don’t change soon enough – there are so many vehicles on the road that a quick change will cause a huge backup. I have heard more honks in San Jose than any other part of the nation While I can attribute this to a reason, I will sound racist so I wont’
- Getting to dinner after you get to hotel is a good idea. This way you let the peak hour traffic die down. Else you not only will be dealing with the challenges above but also with slower traffic and volume. 101 is notorious for backups and even a slight bumper touch can cause hours of delays.
- There is so much driving. I land in San Francisco and then need to drive to San Jose. This is just because there aren’t direct flights to San Jose conducive to my schedule. Taking a stop increases the risk of missing flights or delay in getting to work.
- Sleep deprivation – time zone change doesn’t help in sleeping well. You sleep late and then you wake up early for the client’s time zone due to habit. If you are one of those who can sleep on the airplane, you should consider yourself lucky. I can’t sleep on the plane whether it is a red-eye or a day flight.
- Eating restaurant food is certainly not healthy over the long run. First off you don’t get the healthiest food at reasonable prices. And then if you aren’t watchful , the portion sizes are way too much. All in all, it start to show on you very soon. I have been so watchful at what and how much I eat, that it doesn’t affect me. But I don’t see the same with many others who travel. Think of all the cream one puts in their coffee at the hotel, at work, on the airplane, all the fat in the food and you get the picture.When you are tired, you don’t care so much about what you eat I guess.
- Driving back to home from the airport after flying back home is another challenge when it is late at night. My flight lands around 10:30 PM. Then I need to get to the garage and find my car. Many times in the hurry to get to the airplane going out to work, I might have mentally made a note of where I parked, but after four days of hammering yourself, that memory won’t just come back. This has happened to me. I once spent more than an hour trying to locate my car. I even called airport security and they provided me a location where my car wasn’t there. The guy apparently had looked up an earlier Sunday I had parked instead of asking the date. I had mentioned Sunday and he pulled the first Sunday that came up on his results I think. They sent me a security person and drove me through three floors before we could locate my car.
- Dropping of the rental at the airport might seem like a chore. It is. I have done it more than twenty weeks. This week though in the rush to get to the airplane, I dropped the keys on the seat as the rental guys need the keys. Then I press the open door button to release the trunk, swiftly got out of the car and banged the door shut. Then I couldn’t open any doors! I had pressed the wrong button on an unfamiliar car. Luckily it took 15 more minutes for the Hertz guy to come in a notch the door open and retrieve the keys.
All above don’t happen every day of course. Over a course of six months, most days get by without a hitch except for the physical and mental strain associated with frequent travel. Yes, I haven’t had much time to visit old friends in the area or do any sight-seeing. Work has taken priority.