When I first graduated, I had a vague idea of what I hoped to do with my degrees in Anthropology and Political Science, and an even hazier view of the path ahead. One of the things I wanted most was a job where I got to travel — put on my suit, wheel my little suitcase importantly through the wide expanse of airport walkways, set up shop in a new town for a couple of days, and breeze out again.
In my current position, I get to travel. My job has taken me to places I had hoped to someday go, like Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, where I saw the northern lights; and to places I would have never otherwise chosen to visit, like Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where I was surprised to find a pretty hopping bar scene. I’ve been to three Canadian provinces, two U.S. states, and a Canadian territory in my three years here, and in that time I have come to a realization: Travelling for business actually kind of sucks.
Suit, suitcase, important walk through the airport
The vision I had of wheeling my suitcase after me, dressed like a businesswoman on my way to somewhere important? That’s a fantasy. I know it has to be possible–you can at least fake the look–because I see women doing it all the time. Me? I wear the most comfortable business clothes I can find, because inevitably my flight is canceled, or delayed. Travel isn’t an accepted excuse for being away from my email, so I end up being the girl on the floor in the middle of nothing because those are the only outlets to be found in the entire airport. That self confident, well dressed, woman of business? She must be at a different gate. I’m slumped on the floor, leaning against my suitcase, answering a thousand emails.
Business travel is all about the travel, not the business
I realize this was just naive, but I honestly believed that business travel would be 80% travelling to somewhere new and experiencing this new place, and 20% work. Turns out, it’s all work — you just have a different office. We host a few conferences throughout the year, so my travel is almost exclusively to help run those conferences. That means I go to a new place, set up shop in a hotel, and stay there. I work 16+ hour days, and I sometimes find a break to walk around downtown, or enjoy a reception at an outdoor location. For the vast majority of the day I could be in Portland, Oregon or back home at the office for all I see of the city.
Afterwards, you’re just so excited to get back
Don’t get me wrong — I am always happy to come home from a business trip. But the envisioned run to my guy and spin around in his arms and then take him out to dinner where I tell him all about the important conversations I had with important people? Not so much. Typically I’ve hardly slept in a week, I’ve been on airplanes for hours, and those important conversations with important people? I had them in hospitality suites and at evening receptions. I am tired, dirty, and suffering from serious hotel air/open bar/run without stopping dehydration. All I want is a shower, some episodes of Friday Night Lights, and to pass out on the couch.
Megan would still rather have a job where she got to travel, even if she can only do sexy, confident, and put together in her dreams