As much as I love traveling, I could never be a flight attendant nor did I ever want to be one. Aside from the fact that I could never imagine myself taking orders and bringing blankets and coffee to total strangers and being at their beck and call and basically being a highly paid server (no offense but we all know it’s true), I think excessive and constant traveling for work ruins the whole “traveling part” for me. I could never be like the character George Clooney plays in ‘Up in the Air.’ I don’t want to live out of my suitcase and a big part of me still needs to “go home” and recharge, in the arms of loved ones, including pets.
But, I have no qualms traveling for work every now and then. So far, my work as part of an international development financial institution for the past four years has brought me to Guangzhou, China; Melbourne, Australia; Bangalore, India; Bangkok, Thailand and Islamabad, Pakistan.
On one night during my Bangkok trip, as I laid on my plush hotel bed and feeling content (hahaha), I realized that I did like traveling for work once in a while and so this post was born.
Based on my personal experience, here are the pros of traveling for work:
1. Business Class Seats. I ain’t even gonna lie. This is THE best part. Because I would probably never be able to ride Business if not for my work, which is under our travel policy. This was what I looked forward to during my Pakistan trip. Haha!
2. Fast Track at Immigration. Related to item #1, business class travelers usually have a designated lane at immigration which as expected, is faster. I saw once before in NAIA that there was a lane labeled as ‘Business class’ and I actually hated seeing it because it seemed as if you can just ‘buy your way into a country.’ I haven’t seen it again, I guess they changed it. In other airports, they label it as ‘fast track.’ Other people who can use this lane are usually the diplomats, those in need of assistance and APEC card holders.
3. Business Class Airport Lounge. Still related to item #1, what better way to wait for your flight than in comfortable cushy chairs in an uncrowded room with unlimited food and drinks, clean restrooms and free wifi? Other lounges even have massage spas and shower rooms.
4. Daily Subsistence Allowance. On top of my pay, we are provided daily allowance to cover our meals and accommodation. Plus points that we can actually have cash advance, unlike other companies that would require their employees to pay first then they’ll reimburse later (which is, if you think about it, really unfair for the employee. What if he doesn’t have any cash to spare?). Thanks to my substantial DSA and awesome budgeting skills, I was able to buy my Longchamp Cuir and Herbag, without shelling any of my personal money.
5. Hotel Accommodation. We have a list of accredited hotels and so in effect, we only stay at some of the best hotels around the continent. Since we have mid to high level meetings there, a 4 or 5 star hotel is a must.
6. Rewards Points. A thousand more points (a lot actually) and I could actually buy my mom business class tickets, which is one of my short term goals (but don’t tell her). Because everytime I fly a certain airline, we get points. Hopefully I get more work-related travels so I can reach my goal. On the other end, one of my hotel points can now actually be converted into an ipod, which I am seriously considering doing.
7. Passport Stamps. The more stamps you get, the easier visas are approved whenever you apply.
8. Exposure. I think this is the best part career-wise. Exposure in the sense that you get trained on how to deal with different kinds of scenarios and people in different countries and cultures and learn from it. Being part of an overseas meeting will always look good on your resume.
9. Meeting people. As introverted as I am, I do enjoy meeting people and seeing and observing how they are. Meeting people from all walks of life from all nationalities and cultures is something I consider as training for my career, similar to point #7.
Cons of traveling for work:
1. Work. Duh. Haha! Of course, you’re there to work so basically, that’s the major bummer. At the end of the day, you can’t 100% enjoy your trip since you have work to think about. Except maybe perhaps on your way home. But I think this part is manageable since I work with such great people. Speaking of…
2. Thinking about other people. Since I usually travel with my colleagues, I have to keep them in mind. Example, I’m a fast walker but since we’re in a group, I have to slow down a bit so they could keep up. Or the fact that we do group check-in, which takes more time as compared to if I was alone. Or deciding meals to eat, wherein I have to take their preferences into consideration.
After all is said and done, I am super grateful to be working where I am working right now with my current colleagues. I like how my work brings me to different countries to meet different people in different settings. It’s not too much that I don’t have time left to spend at home but enough for me to have exposure as well as sneak a bit of leisure in it. I don’t think I could travel for work every week or even every month, but I know that whatever or wherever my work brings me, I’ll make sure to try to enjoy it as much as I can, learn from it as much as I can and at the same time, deliver work excellently in the best way that I can.