I'm headed off for another short work trip to the middle of nowhere Mississippi.
When people hear that I travel for work they usually say something along the lines of "oh, that must be so much fun!" or "you get to go to so many places!" And yes, both of those are true. Traveling for work is a lot of fun sometimes (future post on this soon) and I do get to go to a lot of new places. But not all places are created equal.
So, let me enlighten you to the real world of work travel and why, sometimes, it really freaking blows.
1. Not All Locations Are Created Equal
Have you ever hear of Kirkland, Ontario? Mayfield, Kentucky? No? I didn't think so. That's because no one goes there. And for good reason. Because there is nothing there.
See, for as much as I travel, I don't always get to travel to cool places. Sometimes it leads me to places like Huntsville, Ontario or Tupelo, Mississippi. Places that I did not know existed and had to google "closest airport to :insert place::" And these places in the middle of nowhere suck because...
2. Your Options Are Limited
I don't mean just in terms of places to go out and grab a craft beer (although, there is hardly any of that). I mean, everything: hotels, restaurants, airports, rental cars etc. I mean places that only have 3 restaurants within a 25-mile radius. Places that have only one hotel and one gas station for an hour in every direction. Everything is limited. When talking to a waitress I had in Canada, she told me that she had to drive 6 hours to Toronto to do any decent shopping. 6 hours! To go fucking shopping! That's how remote these places are. I know I'm a city girl, but god damn that is just too remote.
3. It's Really Hard To Eat Healthily
I'm not saying it's impossible, but it is significantly more difficult, both on the road and when you come home.
If you're on the road in the middle of nowhere you're eating at a shitty restaurant. Or, if you have been screwed over enough times (like myself) you have learned to pack protein bars to save yourself in these situations where there is nothing but fast food.
When you're on the road in a cooler location, it's a great opportunity to explore the local culture and food. Except, almost always, whatever the local cuisine is, it's not healthy. I don't know of any city that's known for their salads. From southern BBQ, to Louisiana creole, to craft beer abound, none of it is healthy. But what am I supposed to do? NOT eat what those places are known for? That's like coming to Philly for the first time and not getting a cheesesteak. Which, again, is not healthy, and overrated, but, it's kind of one of those things that you just need to do.
And then, when you are only back home for a few days before your next trip, there is little motivation to go grocery shopping for only a few days worth of groceries. Why bother? Half the healthy stuff will go bad if I don't eat it soon enough, and after traveling for four days, do I really feel like cooking? No. I just want to decompress on my couch and have someone deliver food to me.
4. Being On A Plane A Lot Does Not A Healthy Immune System Make
I've been sick more than ten times this year. And I don't think it's a coincidence that this sudden uptick in illness just happens to coincide with the fact that I now travel a lot for work. I've never been rocked with the flu, but there were a lot of cold's that never really got 100% better, and a lot of tiredness and being physically drained. But when you think about it, with the amount of recycled air I breathe, the number of public bathrooms I'm forced to use, hotel rooms with dirty air filters, germs on door handles, table tops etc. no wonder I've been sick so much. And being sick on the road is fucking terrible. There is little worse than being THAT person on the plane who can't stop coughing.
5. It's Not All Fun And Games
I am an extroverted introvert. For the most part, I like conversing with people and being social. I genuinely enjoy sitting at a bar by myself and talking to a bartender or engaging in a conversation with the group of people next to me. And sometimes I just need to decompress and having a hotel room to myself to hide away in and watch TV or read is nice too.
But sometimes, it can be lonely. Sometimes, when I'm eating by myself at a restaurant for the fourth day in a row, I get a little bummed out. Sometimes I find myself getting a little envious watching a couple out on a date, or watching a group of girlfriends catch up at happy hour. Sometimes I miss those routine things, those simple moments that make up most of your life. Because of my travel schedule, I've missed happy hours with friends, fun city events, book club meetings and even family parties. And that sucks.
6. You Become A Snobby Entitled Prick
With travel comes rewards. I have Gold status with American and Hilton, more miles with Delta, and more points with Holiday Inn, Marriot, and Hertz. The more you travel, the more you get addicted to the rewards, the status, and the benefits of those statues. And let me tell you, it's a slippery slope into becoming a high maintenance entitled asshole.
Before my life of miles and status, I booked whatever was cheapest. I didn't care what airline, what hotel- nothing. It didn't matter. I just wanted the cheapest and most direct option. Now, everything (ok, not everything, but a lot) is taken with status in mind. I want my miles. I want my status. And once you have them you start to inconvenience yourself just to keep it. I have a coworker who is so obsessed with status that he goes to Australia for lunch. Like, literally flies to Australia (he's on the west coast) for a few hours, gets lunch, and comes home. Just to keep his status!
And when you hit those status' you get certain benefits. Priority boarding. Bottles of water. Keyless entry to your room.
And with status comes perks. Free bottles of water. Priority boarding. Free upgrades. Keyless entry to your room (so you don't have to talk to the really annoying concierge). After a while, you become accustomed to these perks that when you have a fly a different airline, or stay at a different hotel, and don't have these things, you get kinda prissy and entitled.
I didn't realize I was becoming this person until my last trip to Canada. Nothing about this trip contributed to my status on anything: hotel, airline, rental car. Nothing. In terms of travel awards, this trip was a complete waste. And it wasn't until I boarded my flight to Toronto and I was in the last boarding group (omg how horrible, right?) that I realized how snobby I had become. I was so annoyed that I was one of the last ones on the plane. In the grand scheme of things does that matter? No. Absolutely not. But I was irked. And I hated myself for it.
Overall, I really do love traveling for work (and I'll share why in my next post), but, just let it be known that it's not all sunshine and rainbows over here. There is something to be said for going into an office.