Folks who don’t travel often for work have the mistaken idea that being on the road is glamorous and interesting. While there definitely are some interesting moments, most of the time on the road is full of decidedly un-glamorous hours, days, and weeks.
Travel for vacation is simply not even close to the same thing. Travel for vacation is about choices… the people you’re with, the places you’ll visit, the food you’ll eat, and the activities you’ll do. Travel for work, on the other hand, is about none of those things. At best, when traveling for work you can choose a decent place to eat and which hotel chain to stay.
Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe
Still, I try my best to take advantage of work travel as much as possible. For the first few years of my career, I worked on projects in Seattle, Lake Tahoe, and Amsterdam. Recently I’ve been able to visit Singapore. If I can manage to put some bumper days around the trip, I’ll venture off and explore a local site, find the best coffee shop in town, or go for a bike ride.
In between those amazing opportunities, though, are day after day in tiny towns in the middle of Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio, Connecticut, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Illinois. Fly, drive, work, eat, sleep. Visit the same chain restaurant for a week in a row; desperately wishing for a simple bowl of cheerios.
Hunting for Work
What I have the hardest time with, though, is disconnection. When I’m gone from home, life continues for my friends and family. Parties are had, new friends are made, and new jokes are going around. But for me, it’s like time has stopped for a few weeks. I’ve learned to be extra out going when I return… invite myself to things, create events, and call up lots of folks. But still, there’s a tinge of feeling that everyone has gone on without me.
This all sounds like I’m complaining. I’m not. I just don’t want people to think that work travel is glamorous and cool. I post a few pictures on Facebook or Instagram of unique things I see, but most of my time is spent in a server room in the middle of a factory with my hair net on. Definitely not Instagram-able.
Where’d I park my car?
The interesting parts are far outweighed by the bland hotel, the lame continental breakfast, and the hours in the airport waiting for the connection.
Most of all, though, I really miss all the time I could have spent with friends and family.