It’s 4am. It’s Tuesday. It’s dark outside. The alarm clock is going off, again. Your brain is foggy, confused and desperate to go back to sleep, but you drag yourself out of bed regardless, remembering today’s interstate meeting that cannot be cancelled.
You get dressed by the light of your mobile phone, creeping around the house like a ninja, trying not to wake your partner or kids. You scream silently into your arm when you step on a lethal piece of Lego left carelessly in the hallway. Soon your ride to the airport arrives and whisks you away, and as you settle into the back seat, you scroll through your socials looking with envy at all the glamour travel pics on Instagram.
Ah, the joys of business travel.
Not complaining, but…
Now, before you get the wrong idea, we’re not suggesting there isn’t plenty of upsides to getting away for work: far from it. Consider the break from routine; the chance to travel to interesting places; new bars and restaurants to discover; and those fresh, crisp sheets on the hotel bed, for example. Yes, we literally do a little high five every time we arrange a trip for a customer or for ourselves.
It’s just that we also know that work trips aren’t all beer and skittles (can you actually drink beer when playing skittles? And what are skittles anyway?) Honestly, we know how hard you work when you’re away, and despite what your mum might think, we understand that not every moment is glamourous.
One of the hardest parts of any work trip actually happens before you go. Telling your partner that you’re away again for a few days can be tricky, especially if your trip coincides with a holiday, weekend, birthday, or god forbid, an anniversary. If the kids are sick and are in full blown gremlin mode, then that doesn’t help. Expect a frosty reception and much gritted teeth.
Keeping up appearances
That rush getting ready before dawn isn’t conducive to a successful morning routine. Discovering at the airport that your makeup isn’t quite what you’d thought it was or finding a stain on your shirt that you didn’t notice in the dark is all too common. Avoiding coffee spills on the flight is an artform, as is not sweating up a storm while the plane preps for take-off. Keeping your clothes crease free is next to impossible, because putting your jacket in the overhead locker is like stuffing it in a bucket of bricks.
Putting up with Noobs
Even though you fly frequently and know all the hacks, sadly not everyone on board is as up to speed as you. These people aren’t hard to spot: rookie flyers love to fess up by announcing loudly ‘this is my first time on a plane’ as they struggle to find their seat. They might as well say ‘I am going to make you late for your meeting because I’m stupid’ and be done with it.
Much has been written about the realities of air travel. There’s the seats being reclined on a one hour flight; the people who stand up and run as soon as the seatbelt sign goes off; the oversized luggage in the overhead compartment. Thankfully the flight attendants have seen it all before and usually do a pretty good job of wrangling the inexperienced. There’s not much they can do about the passenger who has fallen asleep in the toilet, though.
Admittedly also one of the best parts of working away, your hotel room can present some unique challenges. If you’ve ever tried to iron your clothes with one of those irons that look like someone cooked their dinner on it, you know what we mean. Don’t get us started on the hair dryers that go thermo nuclear within 30 seconds of operation, and the sooner the little bottles of terrible generic shampoos are phased out the better. Noisy neighbours are another bug bear, but who needs sleep when you have an early morning meeting anyway?
Days on a work trip have no start or end. They just go forever.
Stacking on the kgs
Chocolate Muffins. Ham and cheese croissants. Potato chips. All you can eat buffet breakfasts. Endless dinners with clients and drinks after. These are the culinary temptations that assault business travellers at every turn on a trip. They’re the arch enemy of anyone trying to maintain some semblance of a figure and saying no requires the discipline of a Tibetan monk. But hell, you’re away, so the rules don’t apply right? Face it, the reality is you’re going to come home with a little extra junk in your trunk.
Table for one
Having dinner with clients is common when you’re on a work trip, but there are also the nights when you won’t have an engagement. This presents you with the uncomfortable challenge of eating out on your own without looking like a total loner. The moment between ordering and your food arriving is the worst: this finger twiddling time usually draws sympathetic looks from your fellow diners who clearly think you’re unlucky in love or simply don’t have any friends.
Chasing status – it’s an addiction
Once you start climbing the frequent flyer ladder you start getting used to the benefits. Because priority boarding and priority security are the best. And then you start thinking about status credits, a LOT. Like, all the time.
It’s then you realise that you’re addicted, and Status has quickly become the drug you must have. Your mind craves it incessantly, you start planning your trips based on what status credits you’ll get, you check your frequent flyer membership regularly, and you even start dreaming up excuses to go away for work again just for the credits. But by far the greatest tragedy is when you’re downgraded from gold and forced to travel like everyone else. This is a burden that only business travellers truly understand.
But it’s awesome anyway
It’s true that business travel doesn’t always involve sipping fancy champagne at a rooftop bar rubbing shoulders with movie stars. However, for us, the excitement of even a plain old trip away remains intoxicating, and all the burnt irons and sleepless nights aren’t going to discourage us one bit, because we live and breathe travel. See you on the next flight!