I've talked about work travel throughout the fall, but have spoken mostly in generalities and talked about how tired I was or how much I missed home or how spread thin I've been. I thought maybe it would be helpful to do some level-setting and explain to you why I am not exactly jumping for joy over the fact that I made status on Delta this fall (which means I completed at least 30 flights, 2/3 of which I flew in the span of 3 months).
Now before I go into the reasons that work travel is challenging for me, I want to make it clear that I am not looking for pity. Instead, I just want people to think about what it is really like to travel so often!
This is why work travel is difficult for me:
- The hours are long. When I am traveling for work, I rarely work 'normal' hours. Typically my day will start at 7, I'll have a full day of meetings with clients and colleagues, and then usually drinks/dinner afterwards that will go until 8-10 pm. Granted this doesn't happen every night when I travel, but it happens more often than not.
- There is no downtime/relaxing during the day. On a typical day in my office, I definitely have time when I can sort of joke around with co-workers. But when I am traveling, I am usually either meeting with clients or doing office visits and trying to build relationships. Since many of these relationships are in their early phases, there aren't many laid back moments where I really feel like I can relax. Instead I am always thinking about what I am going to say next, who I am going to sit with next, etc.
- Stuff piles up when you are gone. Since my boss left, I no longer have a true back up to help with things while I am out of the office. And while there is a lot that I can do from my blackberry/over the phone, I still need access to my laptop to really help people. Plus no one listens to my voice message saying I am out of the office so I will sometimes comes back to multiple voice mails from a person, which then makes me feel bad because they think I am ignoring them.
- It's lonely. This is a new phenomenon for me. In the past, I never really felt lonely when I was traveling because the majority of my friendships were maintained over email/text/phone calls. Now that I have a boyfriend it's different as I have grown accustomed to seeing him face-to-face multiple times a week. So in the past it wouldn't bother me to go days upon days with out seeing anyone from my life back home, but now it does. Plus I work erratic hours at times and when there is a time change involved, it can be hard to find a time to connect. This is something we both know we need to work on.
I think my attitude about travel will shift next year as my travel schedule SHOULD slow down (I hope). I think if I hadn't traveled on average 3 weeks out of every month the last 3 months, I wouldn't be so burned out and tired of being on the road. So far for January, I have trips to Charlotte and Austin planned, both of which should be a max of 2 days, which shouldn't be too bad.
So there you have it... I know travel is part of my job and I will embrace it to the best of my ability, but I do feel like I kind of got robbed of the relaxing fall that I thought I was going to have and I am disappointed that I am not going into CFA study season feeling all that relaxed and refreshed. But such is life - I will power through these next 5 months and focus on the freedom that awaits me come June 2nd. And I do still have 1 week of freedom to enjoy (I start studying a week from today)!!