Equipped or Adrift: Highs and Lows of Travelling as a Career
Would you say yes to a terrific job opportunity that requires a lot of traveling?
For some people, it is their ultimate job – their dream come true. People who either are starting out in their careers, or those who love to travel. People who don’t have significant others or kids, who are relatively independent in their responsibilities and personal life duties.
For some of us, not so much.
When you are a primary caretaker of small children, this option won’t even cross your mind. It is totally out of the question.
It is entirely possible that you don’t enjoy travel in the first place; the thought of working around different time zones, eating unfamiliar food in different places and sleeping in a new bed might be enough to bring a major anxiety attack.
There are definitely two sides to this lifestyle story. And, it pays to look at both before you go and get your heart set on something that you might regret later on.
See the world, all expenses paid
Travelling for work, yes, it sounds like a dream.
You might be a food critic, or international photographer. You might very well be a highly sought after public speaker with international appeal. And you go to places for free where other people pay for it. Heaven!
You look forward to catching up with friends who live in faraway places. You get excited at the thought of meeting old colleagues or rubbing shoulders with people in the same industry. What could be better?
A break from the real world
Sometimes, travel gives you the perfect opportunity to take a break from a difficult situation. It simply allows you some time off and to be responsible for only yourself.
If things are bad at home, if you are in the middle of a sticky situation and you need to clear your head, travelling for work can be the best form of escapism. You trade in whatever is making you miserable for a change of scenery and sometimes that is all you need to get a handle on things. Things seem much better when you return.
And now for the flip side.
Missing family and personal milestones
For people who have close relations with their family and friends, this might not be the perfect lifestyle. Especially, when you need to go away often.
A friend of mine is a high powered executive and has to travel a lot for business. Every time he is away, he misses his small boys a lot and always returns a bit deflated. He hates missing their birthdays and school related events.
His wife is also not too happy. Since he only has to visit two main locations, they are now thinking about hiring someone to delegate some of the job duties on contractual basis. It is hard for them but this is what they want to do. Being away from his children is harder – confesses my friend regretfully.
All work and no play
Travelling for work is – well – work! You are not taking a holiday. Most of the time you don’t get any time to yourself and go sightseeing.
When I was little, my Dad used to travel a bit in his early days of a new job. He got to see fair bit of the world, however he was quick to tell us that he spend most of his days in meetings, travelling to and from places, in his hotel room or on the plane. He had been to China but he didn’t get to see the Great Wall. He had been to Malaysia but didn’t visit the King’s palace. Either he was too busy, or too tired.
Yes, you do get to visit the city, but remember, it is not like being on a vacation.
You are often eating out a lot, most of the time junk food. You might be surrounded by disease when travelling to a developing country. You don’t get enough chance to exercise and sleep properly. Jet lag can play havoc with your system. These are some issues to keep in mind when you pick a career that involves lots of travelling.
Go by what is most important to you. Is it being independent and seeing the world? Being part of the bigger picture? If you can handle the demands and pressures of travelling and have the maturity to deal all with the cons mentioned above, this could be the right choice for you. Congrats! You are fully equipped.
On the other hand, if you want to pursue it for the wrong reasons, to impress others perhaps, for the prestige and to acquire some ‘drool factor’, this might not be enough. Don’t drift for nothing.
"Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online education providers. She has traveled to many different countries and loves to discover new and exciting places.