On business – blessings and woes of corporate travel

On business - blessings and woes of corporate travel - Travel with Penelope and Parker

You know those people at work that are always jetting off here and there on business, have a clutch of gold cards and exciting passport stamps?

So glamorous.

I always wanted to be one!

And then I was.

On business - blessings and woes of corporate travel - Travel with Penelope and Parker

I went to America more than necessary, once for less than 24 hours… India for less than 48 hours… Switzerland and seemingly most cities in Europe more times than I can count… And, and, and… It was manic and in no way glamorous despite travelling in business class! Two years and over 40 flights in both years was definitely a business investment…

In fact there was a particular period that was totally insane and the final time I came through Heathrow security the border policeman had to correct me and point out I’d come from Geneva, and not my reasoned guess of Zurich!

The picture of the glass of fizz at the top of the post was one of the only ones I enjoyed… That was because it was a Saturday, I was flying to India, and the plane was delayed!

On business - blessings and woes of corporate travel - Travel with Penelope and Parker

Now I tend only to travel on business overseas intermittently, and boy am I glad of that!

The irony of writing this on a Friday night, flying home from working in Paris, isn’t lost on me!

Mr P is now leading the charge on our airmile-haul. It grows by the week… He still seems to enjoy it thankfully!

There are of course benefits to business travel

Collecting airmiles, hotel points and gold cards – I’m not gonna lie, those points and membership statuses come in very handy.  We are partial to First Class flights and lounge fizz to start our holidays as well as redeeming hotel points and bonus nights.  But given that whenever we travel for pleasure we are together, we always get the benefit of the others status.  That and the fact we tend to book in business anyway.  We actually struggle to use our hotel points – we avoid business hotels on holiday, preferring instead to find another hidden gem! #firstworldproblems

Exploring places on someone elses account – if I am somewhere for long enough then I’m certainly going to see what’s around me.  Washington DC is one of my favourite cities having spent a few weekends there in between client meetings. Getting to try different planes (A380 and B787) and business classes (Virgin and American for variety) is interesting too… At least the first time anyway!

On business - blessings and woes of corporate travel - Travel with Penelope and Parker

Confidence from travelling alone – I’m organised, but I’m not always blessed with common sense.  Traipsing around the world, negotiating airports and flight connections, driving hire cars on the other side of the road, turning up in a country where you know no one and not a word of the language… We all learn quickly.  It is actually pretty liberating and exciting to become good at it!

Bonding time with colleagues – when travelling to meet colleagues from overseas the red carpet is laid out.  I have eaten at some excellent places and of course returned the favour when I host guests. Travelling with colleagues can be great fun – the time my boss and I enjoyed the cocktail list in a beach bar in South Beach Miami still makes me laugh (then grimace). Joking aside – travelling with senior people in the firm is a great way to learn and build important career relationships.

Impressive dawns and dusks at 36,000 feet – I love flying, especially when I have the window seat at sunrise or sunset.  If work is going to drag me out of bed at an ungodly hour to fly overseas then I will make damn sure I enjoy the view!  Better (??) still, when working in the States with the jetlag one gets the delight of seeing every hour of daylight. Whether you like it or not!

On business - blessings and woes of corporate travel - Travel with Penelope and Parker

But oh the cons

The day job doesn’t stop just because the time zone changes – we all put on those cute out of office messages that make us look so jetset: ‘I’m working overseas GMT-5 hours and as such, with regret, my response to you may be delayed.’  It. Means. Nothing.  Really!  You’re still needed even though you are 5 hours behind the UK and the jetlag means that you are awake.  Then the US team you are with need you when the UK is clocking off for the day…. Long days.

So much time gets wasted in transit and weekends get lost – downtime on the way to the airport and at the airport is unavoidable.  Whilst I can always keep up to date with email on my phone and normally work in the lounge, it isn’t the same as being sat at a desk.  Flights are too often on a Sunday evening to get somewhere for Monday, or arrive back late on a Friday or on a Saturday morning.  I think Mr P and I have spent more of our wedding anniversaries apart than together.

On business - blessings and woes of corporate travel - Travel with Penelope and Parker

Actually seeing the place you are visiting is unlikely – unless your driver takes you on a scenic city tour (we did that in Rome actually but then were the last people on the plane) then time is money. And so time is spent 100% in meetings fulfilling the purpose of the visit!

Flying and travelling for holiday feels like a bus-man’s holiday – in a former job Mr P flew long haul at least once a month. And we flew for holiday once a month too in an attempt to burn airmiles. He was never excited like me at the start of a holiday. The same happens for me at the end of a stint of business travel. I’m far happier at home sweet home than doing any more travelling!

Living out of a suitcase isn’t fun – seriously, even with packing cubes it’s rubbish. I always go hand luggage only as it is less hassle at the airport. But then packing and repacking is a pain as that case just gets smaller and smaller! Thank goodness for speedy hotel laundry though! But why don’t all hotels have separate conditioner in the bathroom?

On business - blessings and woes of corporate travel - Travel with Penelope and Parker

The blessings and woes are a balanced score-card – so when you can make it work it isn’t all bad!

These days we do seem to have found our balance with travelling on business the right way and the right amount… Attaching mini city-breaks to the end of a trip if we can (Stockholm and Milan were great successes).  Our surplus of airmiles and having a companion voucher in hand gives us options.  We are getting better are diary planning our movements (and weekend plans) in advance so that business travel doesn’t mean missing out on social plans. In fact we both enjoy the quiet few days at home alone each month too.

On business - blessings and woes of corporate travel - Travel with Penelope and Parker

We know the strategy is working because we once again both enjoy the treat of being at the airport at the start of a holiday.

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  • Kelly Michelle

    Love that you keep things real Anna! My dad travels every week for work around NZ or Australia and he hates going away on holiday which drives mum crazy but he lives out of carry on luggage each week so when he has time off he just wants to relax at home. Business travel isn’t all that glamorous! Fabulous post! xx

    • Got to keep it real – most of us that traipse in luxury through an airport do it only to work 14 hour days at the other end! Glad you liked it!

  • My goodness I do not miss this!! I think 2014 was a record…in my first year of marriage my trips away totalled 8 months, having said that last year was pretty astronomical too. I remember when I first started out, I thought it would be so glamorous to be a business traveller but the novelty very quickly wore off. I’ve definitely been taking advantage of the air miles and hotel points on our current Asia trip though 🙂

    • And that novelty wore off fast! But I think it was fun while it was fun, and amusing now to see everyone at work that is just starting out on the journey!

  • I love travelling but glad I don’t have to travel anymore than I do. I’ll always hate long haul flights. Please, please may I have the window seat this Sunday. That or the aisle, anywhere but the middle.

    • Never the middle! Travelling in business when you get off the long flight and straight into office is definitely something to not do too often!

  • I can relate to so much of this and am quite relieved when I have the occasional month with no travel at all. Bliss! The next one’s August…

  • Rosalie

    I can totally relate. I recently tried explaining to my boyfriend that I love traveling, but I *hate* being in transit. Once he clocks in a few more miles I’m sure he’ll understand!

  • I always loved my business travel when I was manufacturing in Asia. Maybe the fact that it was for my business and not someone else had a lot to do with it. I feel so fortunate to have been able to segue into travel writing, but I am not a nomad and do love coming home to my own nest at the end of a trip and staying put for a bit!

    • I expect so – if you don’t begrudge the trip in the first place and can pick the dates it will always be preferable! There’s no place like home…

  • You’re right – from the outside its seems incredibly glamourous. But when you think about it, it’s exhausting! I don’t know how you used to do it. I like travelling but I like my non-travel weeks too. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting old?!

    • Travel to enjoy the place at the other end can be… but when you have a 14 hour office day from the moment you land it really isn’t! I love those weeks when I can work from or because I am in the office all week I can take a longer lunch with a friend!

  • Lucy Dodsworth

    I’ve never had a job that involves any work travel (apart from blogging I suppose!) but I have a friend who does a lot and although there are some perks (he gets a lot of Avios from those Business and First flights) I think I’m happy for my trips to be more leisure than work.

    • The fun of business class wears off pretty quick when you have to get off a 6 hour flight, shower and put the suit and heels on and pretend like that doesn’t feel like the middle of the night!! Thankfully the airmile haul means we can use first class for holidays though!