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The Pros and Cons of Traveling for Work

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Michelle while in Pasadena for a client, standing in front of Pasadena City Hall. It’s the filming location for Pawnee City Hall in Parks & Recreation!

Your alarm clock goes off at 5 a.m., and there's no time for you to hit snooze. You shower, put on your business casual clothes and grab your pre-packed carry-on as you climb into your Uber to the airport. You stroll through TSA pre-check and walk up to the gate just as they start boarding for your 7 a.m. flight to the client’s city.

Not so bad, right? How about doing it every week?

As you go through recruiting in the fall and talk to different companies at the career expo, you might find some job opportunities that have heavy travel schedules. When I was looking for my first job, I specifically sought roles that would give me the opportunity to travel. I have been traveling for work for about a year now and have come across some pros and cons to this type of lifestyle.

Michelle visiting the Apple campus in Cupertino while in California for a client.

Pro: You'll get to see some really cool cities.

I've had the opportunity to go to Boston, Nashville and Los Angeles. I've spent weeks just outside San Francisco and months working in downtown Chicago. It's great because your transportation, hotel and meals are all paid for, so you really get to experience the city. Depending on your team, you may also do sightseeing activities in the evenings.

Con: You'll get to see some really… not-so-cool cities, and sometimes won't have time to go out.

During my internship, we once stayed in a town where the closest hotel was 15 miles away from our client. I've heard of co-workers who have had to take two plane rides, only to drive a few more hours to get to their destination. I also have co-workers who never have to get on a plane and have all of their clients within driving distance. Based on the project, your work could be endless. If you are in a neat city but work too late to go out and see any sights, that is a con as well.

Pro: You get to know your co-workers a lot better.

When you spend time working all day and then eating all your meals together, you really get to know your co-workers. It's important to expand your internal network, so you can be exposed to different types of projects and ideas on how to solve problems. When you know your co-workers better, you'll feel more comfortable reaching out when you hit roadblocks. It's also important to get to know seniors and managers who will become great mentors.

Con: It's more difficult to network with professionals in your home city.

I looked at a few social and professional organizations when I first started working, but a majority of the times, meetings would be on weekdays, making it difficult for me to get involved. It is also difficult for me to commit to any programs or classes in my home city, because I tend to be out of town throughout the week. You'll certainly become the master at managing your schedule and have to figure out where you can make commitments.

Pro: Free food!

Need I say more?

Con: Staying healthy is difficult on the road.

Since you are not on site every day of the week, you might have longer hours at the client’s and work later into the evening to finish your work. This makes working out or grocery shopping much more difficult. You will not have time to work out — but you can make time if you are committed to a healthy lifestyle. It is also tempting to go for unhealthy fast-food options when you want to get back to your hotel as soon as possible — so always being aware of your healthiest options is necessary.

Michelle visiting Steve Job’s childhood house with the garage where Apple was started, while in California for a client. 

Pro: You get points for staying in hotels, taking flights and renting cars — so you can go on all sorts of adventures for free.

If you travel for work, you better sign up for all of the rewards programs! As you travel, you'll accumulate rewards points that are redeemable for personal trips in the future. I've also got credit cards that multiply the amount of points I receive. I've already paid for a variety of weekend trips using just points, and I expect to go on my honeymoon for free.

Con: You'll never want to use those points, because you'll always want to go home.

I might be biased on this one, but when I'm on the road I miss my fiancé and I miss my cats. Sometimes I'll take a weekend and visit my family in Dallas, but I rarely desire to go anywhere else besides home. When you're already traveling for work, relaxing at home can sound really nice.

The amount you travel and the places you travel to really vary depending on your company and clients. I'm lucky that I mostly travel Tuesday through Thursday, but I have heard horror stories about consultants traveling Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. If you're curious about traveling for work, you could seek out an internship that involves travel and determine if it's something you'd like to do after graduating. There are so many pros and cons to having a job with traveling, and this lifestyle is definitely not for everyone. But for me? So far, I'd say it's worth it!

Michelle Abuda

J. Michelle Abuda earned her BS in Management Information Systems and MS in Business Analytics from the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Currently, she works at Crowe Horwath as a Regulatory Compliance Risk Consultant in the Columbus, Ohio office. During her time at JSOM, she was actively involved as a leader on the Dean's Council. She helped found the JSOM Book Club, as well as the TEDxUTD Club. Read more articles

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