I live in Loudoun County and for more than 20 years, I have held jobs that required me to travel. At first, locally in my region and later, throughout the United States and now for more than 12 years, I have been traveling globally. My trips have taken me to exotic countries and amazing places. I have met interesting people and dined in extraordinary restaurants. Yes, I admit, they have all enriched my life for the better. My family, friends and acquaintances often comment about how lucky I am. I “get” to travel for work. My wife will say things like, “Let’s switch places, and you do carpool and I will do meetings in Paris”. I am here to tell you that living out of a suitcase may sound glamorous, it just isn’t.
My trips don’t start on the plane. Let me start by talking about the days leading up to the travel day. Since I am often gone for at least a few days, I will start to pack meetings into the days leading up to my trip. This often means longer days, complete with 8 or more hours of conference calls. I also have to prepare for the contents of my meetings not to mention organize complex set of travel arrangements. I, of course have to stay within my company’s unrealistic travel policies such as $250 per night hotel rates in New York or San Francisco during the high travel seasons. Then there is always the anxiety of being stuck in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles New York or… I will dare say it… Newark airports, due to outages or weather.
If I am traveling to California or eastward to Europe, I am bound to either travel late at night or very early in the morning. Once I get to my destination, I either have to rush to the hotel so I can catch some sleep before my morning meetings or I land around 7 in the morning and rush to my prearranged morning meetings. In fact, I may end up flying for more than 9 hours and land at my destination only to work for another 12 hours including dinner meetings.
“My head will be filled with guilt over leaving my loved ones behind,
my wife living her life like a single mother,
kids growing up without
my love and
During the trip, I will sacrifice my routine and more importantly what is precious to me. Drop the workout, my healthy diet, a good night’s sleep, my children’s sports games, Valentine’s Day dinner with my wife and or any of the important birthdays in my life. My head will be filled with guilt over leaving my loved ones behind, my wife living her life like a single mother, kids growing up without my love and attention. In parallel, I could be dealing with very challenging meetings involving customers, colleagues or partners. I may feel like a failure, not being able to please my family and or appease my boss at work.
Thankfully, all things must come to an end. I head back to my house and waiting for me is my loving family, more than 1000 emails, follow up items from the meetings I just held during my trip, loads of dry cleaning and of course expense reports. My wife is happy to have me back but, I sometimes feel like an orange whose juice has been squeezed out and all I have left to give back to her is the peel. My family and I will spend the weekend to regroup, reconnect, recharge and refill the peel with the juice again so I can be ready for the next trip. On the road again, traveling fast and alone.