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Traveling For Work: Expectation Versus Reality

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Traveling for work sounds so fancy and sophisticated, doesn’t it? Only the really important people get to do it, right? And always getting to see new places would be so fun! Never having to stare at the same gray cubicle walls sadly decorated with old college pictures would be so liberating, don’t you agree?

Well, yes and no. Take it from a girl who spends equal parts in the sky and in the office. Traveling for work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean hardcore traveling all the time, not the type where you’re occasionally out of the office–there is a difference, trust me. Here are all the things you think happen to those “lucky” individuals who travel for work, and the much less exhilarating reality of their lives.

Expectation: You’ll get to travel to a lot of cool places and sightsee while you’re away.
Reality: Yes, on a rare occasion, you’ll get to see some interesting places. But more often than not, you’ll have to go to desolate places like Fargo, in the dead of winter. You’ll also have to work from your hotel a lot, depending on the type of work you do. Most of my nights are spent writing reports and catching up on emails. So riveting, I know.

Expectation: If you’re flying, this must be a pretty important job.
Reality: You’re actually traveling because someone higher up in the office doesn’t have time for the bitch work you’re doing. Those are the people who go on REAL business trips.

Expectation: You think traveling will be a fun getaway from the office. Really, how much actual work will you be doing anyway?
Reality: Work is work, and you can’t really escape it. On top of that, if you’ve ever spent a week on the road, you know how tiring travel really is. After dragging around luggage all day, I usually just want to go straight to the hotel and sleep.

Expectation: You’ll rack up the benefits from excess per diem and all those frequent flyer miles.
Reality: Okay, the miles are obviously freaking awesome, but you still have to be careful with your spending. Eating out (and going out) in expensive cities can easily hurt the old bank account.

Expectation: Meeting new people will be great!
Reality: Between crying children in the airport, annoying talkers on the plane, and rude TSA officers, human interaction will be the last thing you’ll want to encounter.

Expectation: You’ll get to buy a neat souvenir from each place you visit, like a T-shirt or a snow globe.
Reality: You would be poor after a week of doing that. Just get a nice map for your cube back at the office and stick a pin in every city you visit. Maybe pick up the occasional postcard from the nicer places you go. It’s much cheaper and just as effective.

Expectation: You’ll get to work out at all the hotels. It’s free and only a few floors away.
Reality: You’ll have to lug around extra gym clothes and shoes. They will get sweaty and they will end up stinking up your luggage, which is packed with all your finely pressed shirts and cute dresses. Even if you decide to go this route, you’ll be so tired by the time you get back to the hotel that a glass of wine from room service will be a more likely option. Don’t feel bad about it. You’ll burn off tons of calories running to catch your next connection at the airport.

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