The downsides of PR travel no one wants to talk about

Spend any time on Facebook or Twitter following those in the industry and you’ll see plenty of it. Call it the “glorification of business travel.” Or, simply put, the #humblebrag version of business travel.

What I mean by this: Those talking about their massive business travel schedules, bemoaning the fact that they have to do it, yet most likely sharing as a way to promote themselves.

Biz Traveler

Hey, I can’t fault these folks for doing that. If I were in their shoes, with client meetings on two different coasts each week, or three speaking gigs in three cities in a week, I may do the very same thing.

But, before you glorify that lifestyle, and start making a goal to speak at 10 different industry events in 2014, I feel an obligation to tell you about the substantial downsides of that choice.

Because there are many, many downsides.

Yes, business travel can be exciting. Sure, in some senses, it can mean you’ve achieved a certain level of accomplishment (whether it’s making the client travel team, or in the speaking arena).

And yes, there can be some perks–like visiting NYC in the fall, and seeing a friend during the trip.

But, I see a lot of drawbacks. Let’s look at the list:

You’re workday was just elongated to 18 hours

Oh, you think I’m joking. As anyone who’s run a booth at CES knows how long those workdays can be. Even on the  rare instances when I travel for business now, I find myself working non-stop because, what else is there to do when traveling? Don’t operate under the assumption that you do less on the road–you do much, much more.

Nutrition is completely out the window

Good luck finding foods that don’t include the word hamburger, steak or fried in the titles. It’s not impossible, but it’s much tougher to maintain a healthy diet when traveling. I mean, there’s a reason you see many salespeople that travel gain weight.

Exercise is non-existent

Remember that 18-hour workday? Well, it doesn’t exactly allow for an exercise regiment. I’m not saying no one sneaks in a run on the road, but you really have to work to find it.

Hours spent waiting–and waiting

30 minutes waiting in the security line. 15 minutes waiting to get on the plane. Another 40 minutes on the tarmac. 20 minutes waiting for your bags you almost lost. Another 20 minutes waiting to pick up your car. You get the idea. Travel is a waiting game. No fun here.

Limited sleep

The older I get the more this one has phased me. I rarely get good sleep when I’m traveling for work anymore. For me, it’s a combination of sleeping in a foreign environment, and sleeping alone. For others, the reasons are different. But, sleep is always tough to come by on the road.

Stress levels are up–way up

If you’re traveling for work, you’re most likely either: 1) Visiting a client and giving some form of presentation, or 2) Presenting as part of an industry event or trade conference. Both can be stressful situations. I’m not saying you’re taking two antacids in the morning or anything, but the stress does wear on you. And, it has a exponential effect when combined with the other factors listed above.

You’re not home

When you’re 25, single and with no kids, this isn’t as big a deal. When you’re 35, married with two kids at home and one on the way, this is huge. Traveling later in your life is a chore. It is rarely something you look forward to. Instead, it is a necessary evil. Something you must do for work. Sure, travel has it’s fun moments, but you’re typically tired, stressed and away from the people you love most.

What do you think? You all most likely travel more than me anymore. I’d love to hear from you on this one…

Photo courtesy of Ed Kohler via FlickR Creative Commons.

34 comments
  Ronaldo Scott
Ronaldo Scott

Waao! such a informative post you have shared here. That must be informative for the business person. Really like your work here.

vakantiehuis costa blanca
vakantiehuis costa blanca

Nice to see this post here..I like your work on this post,you have amazing task, if you have much more information regarding this post then please share with us....

Ella Rich
Ella Rich

I would like to appreciate your hard work you did write this post, Thanks for sharing this valuable post.

holidays villas in spain
holidays villas in spain

Good post. I like the content and while reading this, I was feeling that it usually happens to me too. Lack of sleep and the stress are mine problems too. It is a tough job to enjoy a trip. :P Anyways, thanks for the post. :)

CatParker
CatParker

Maybe you're doing it wrong ;-) Go early, stay late. Enjoy the travel as well as work. I bring my daughter when she wants to come along. Gotta love writing off your travel and frequent flyer miles! But then again I'm a gypsy..I always find myself looking at the departure board on my return and thinking, I could just jump on another flight heading somewhere else... Bad food is a choice you make...or not! Much of this article sounds more like traveling for a ”job” not your own business.

MarisaVictoria
MarisaVictoria

I never really travel for business much at all, but I have to say I find articles like this so obnoxious because it completely contradicts itself. The intro claims that people bemoan the woes of travel as if it was a humble brag, but then the entire article is listing out all the reasons that support exactly why they would be bemoaning it with authenticity! It wouldn't bother me at all if it were as straightforward as a list of reasons; but it's the presumptuous intro that jumps from "bemoaning" to"glorifying" that makes no sense.

marcymassura1
marcymassura1

Yes. I live in California and go to NYC 2 or 3 times a month. About once to San Fran. Then there are the Seattle, London and Chicago trips. I travel. A LOT. There are a boat load of other downsides too....but there are plenty of upsides as well. I try to focus on those as I schlep thru airports tired, fat and fueled by diet coke. :)

stuartbruce
stuartbruce

Biggest downside to business travel for me is the actual flying. I don't mind the rest of it so much if it is spread out, which for the next eight weeks it definitely isn't as I've got Prague, Düsseldorf, Tehran, Kazakhstan, Manila and Singapore for a combination of conference speaking, client meetings and running master classes.. That's my #humblebrag if I survive the rather gruelling number of flights.

ladysportsman
ladysportsman

First, that photo looks like the MKE airport. True?

 

I, too, used to enjoy travel. But then I found the more I flew, the more I somehow developed flight anxiety that was never there before. Completely strange. And it was so draining to be "on" all the time. After awhile, I avoided people at night and chose to eat alone instead, which isn't a good thing as you tend to miss out on those "good" casual convos with your clients or coworkers.

 

So now I choose my travel very wisely. And take Dramamine.

BradMays
BradMays

It's when the travel brag turns into a way to cope with the solitude through your Facebook friends that you know it's time to get off the road. Gotta go. They're calling my flight.

AlbertMaruggi
AlbertMaruggi

Damn you Arik, i was supposed to have something done by 10 and because of this post, I wont get it done.  I hate social media. stop it right now. (do i have to type sarcasm or is it obvious?) 

AlbertMaruggi
AlbertMaruggi

Hey let me jump in again on something,  "Family Friendly" what a crock.  What?  a company has a day care center and it's Family Friendly.  You get an extra couple of days off, and it's Family Friendly, oh you mean those days when work piles up and you're jumped on for not responding to emails by the office political machine.   Give me a break.  Family friendly is two people who are responsible for "the family" to make concessions on what's important to the other members of the family. 

 

Making the toughest job in the whole world the single parent.  

 

 There, I've said it.  

JenRWilbur
JenRWilbur

3rd one on the way? Where have I been?! Congrats. I remember when biz travel was fun (as you said, when young and single). I've felt pretty lucky not having to travel much these past few years. First biz trip in awhile this morning to Denver. 

AlbertMaruggi
AlbertMaruggi

I haven't travel much in the last 12 years, maybe once or twice a year on a plane. No conferences, only travel for video shoots, in and out.   Also I drive when it's feasible and try to take a kid with me.    This is a decision inspired by the 9/11 attacks when I was scheduled to get a plane that night out of LAX.  i control my time as much as possible. It's a choice. with no right answer across the board.  It took a tragedy of unprecedented proportion to show me there are other ways to live than what society dictates.  My life, my decision, opinions of others are meaningless.  I've spent the last 12 years, for the most part, where I've wanted to spend them.  Sacrifices, sure thing, probably in real dollars about $200K people don't realize that or refuse to acknowledge the cost of their priorities.   I'll likely be working till I die, if I'm lucky.   For me, those particular 12 years were worth it.  You know the 12 years where you have the greatest impact, leave the memories of the daily routine, be there for a "talk".   I don't me Skype, for me that's a BS to make the parent feel better, but that's just me and that's all that matters when it comes to a topic so personal. 

Bill Sledzik
Bill Sledzik

I left this world of airports and hotels 22 years ago and don't miss it. I now travel no more than twice a year for business vs twice a month in my practitioner days. I can't remember missing more than a handful of my kids soccer games as they grew up, and I was close by when both my grandkids were born. No regrets, though I do miss the occasional trip to Vegas!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

It's why I don't do a lot of events. I value my family too much, and I see a lot of broken marriages and unhappiness from people who chase the speaking circuit "glory"

bradmarley
bradmarley

Arik -

 

I think you need to clarify what you are traveling for. Yeah, working conferences can suck, but there is something to be said about getting away from the regular routine for a night or two.

 

I flew out to my client's office yesterday to prep for something, and it was not unlike a day in my office. The only difference was that I had a night to myself (I have kids and a wife at home.) While I very much miss them (FaceTime helps) it was nice to get in a workout and eat dinner on my schedule, without worrying about putting the kids to bed and preparing the house for the next day.

 

While there are definite drawbacks to business travel, there are also some perks, like what I mentioned above. Maybe that's what nobody wants to talk about. Or, they're just afraid to admit they enjoy that time alone.

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @CatParker I work for myself now, but I'm thinking of the people who may read this blog with these drawbacks (mostly agency/corp folks). Again, I'm not saying biz travel is all bad--it certainly isn't. But, there are some drawbacks, and those aren't talked about as frequently (in my view, at least). 

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @MarisaVictoria Fair enough. I was just pointing out that there's a lot of people who glorify business travel, but the reality is that it's quite tough on some people. That's all.

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @marcymassura1 To be clear, I'm not saying there aren't upsides. There are. As pointed out by a few folks here, and on the FB thread. I was just looking to point out the downsides, since few people talk about those (and certainly no one highlighted these for me earlier in my career).

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @stuartbruce I'll agree with you there, Stuart. I hate flying. When I was younger, I didn't mind it as much, but in my old age it's really started to wear on me.

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @ladysportsman Right there with you. As I got older, I've learned to hate flying. I frequently "self medicate" :)

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @rockstarjen They take on a whole new light with kids :) No, no third one on the way. I was just using an example...

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @Bill Sledzik I've never traveled much either, to be honest. And when I did, my stops were ultra-sexy locales like Des Moines, Quad Cities and Omaha (no offense to people who live in Des Moines, Quad Cities and Omaha, obviously). But, I just never felt it was all that great, personally. It was part of the job. Period.

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @Danny Brown Yep--pretty much how I feel. I really only attend one out-of-town event a year now ( @Kellye Crane 's Solo PR Summit). And, when I go to ATL for that event for 3 days I know the kids/wife take a hit. 

arikhanson
arikhanson moderator

 @bradmarley Excellent point. Very true--that is the side people don't want to talk about, Brad (probably more so guys, but still). I'm not saying business travel doesn't have its perks (see @Alex Tan 's comment on my FB thread), but I just think the drawbacks get glossed over an awful lot.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

 @bradmarley Agree the occasional client trip is valuable, and any parent would agree the break is needed. Where I see Arik coming from are the speaker circuit chasers.

CatParker
CatParker

@arikhanson so were you writing from prior experience (before working for yourself?) or drawing from interviews etc. and if the former....has your travel for business feelings changed with circumstance?

KellyeCrane
KellyeCrane

 @arikhanson  Couldn't hit "like" on a comment that says the wife and kids will take a hit! But, I'm humbled that the Solo PR Summit is the one event you feel is worth it.

 

I think @CatParker 's comment about being a gypsy is a good one -- some people love the thrill of being somewhere new, while others prefer the comforts of home. Knowing which type you are can help you plan -- whether you want to embrace or avoid business travel.

 

bradmarley
bradmarley

 @Danny Brown I can see that. And it makes sense. It does get really old after a long time on the road.

AlbertMaruggi
AlbertMaruggi

 @Danny Brown  @bradmarley  speaker circuit and let me pile on folks - if you are on a corporate track the mandatory list of meetings, trade shows, team building and boss doesn't want to go so you go, etc etc etc.