He was sitting on the couch, smoking his cigarette, and thought to himself “This is the last time, I’m traveling for work”.
He had enough of this cycle, leaving his family was the most difficult part of his job. The worst part was leaving the kids behind. When he started as a marketing professional, it was fun traveling to different parts of the world. Plus, all the perks you get with travel. The fancy hotels, food, and meeting new people every day. As more and more days passed by, he was just frustrated with this lifestyle and he had constant fights with his spouse. She wanted him to quit his work and take up something where he was more around the kids. Now the real question is when will his routine, monotonous lifestyle end?
In the above para, I was just sharing a snapshot of a professional who travels regularly for work. Well most of us think that traveling around can be so much fun. But rarely does anyone talk about the dark side of traveling for work. We see Instagram photos and think wow he lives such an amazing life. But there is a price to pay for this lifestyle. In this article, I will share the other side which rarely gets discussed. We think traveling for work is the best thing. Would you take up this lifestyle?
1 The Dark Side Of Travelling For Work
- Less time with family: This is the most painful one. Imagine being close to your family and having to spend more time on the road. You will miss your family very much. Your kid will miss his father when he wants someone to play with him. You won't be present for most of the important activities in school. Plus, there will be pressure from your spouse that kids want their father to attend the PTA or the school function. Also, they will grow so quickly that you won't even understand that the most important moment of your life has just passed due to your work lifestyle.
- Relationship with spouse: Travel for work, will take a toll on your relationship. Your spouse will keep demanding quality time with her & the kids. To be fair, she is not asking for much, as it is her right to spend quality time with you. Also, she will be facing a lot of responsibilities alone, which will increase her irritation level. Raising kids is not an easy task, she would be responsible for most of the things. She won't get proper sleep at night. It will affect her mental state as it is not her sole responsibility to raise the child alone. Now all of this put together will lead to having a bad effect on your relationship. You will do your best to maintain a long-distance relationship, but most of the conversation will lead to when are you heading back home.
- Dating life will be difficult if you are single: Dating life is not easy on the road. Most of them won't be comfortable committing to you as they know that you would leave soon. You must take efforts to go on dates. As you are moving, it will be very difficult to meet the same person again. The feeling of sleeping alone in your hotel room for a long period will not be a good one, either.
- Eating junk on the road: We all have faced it, before traveling we make up our mind that we would not eat junk. But somehow, we give up and end up eating a lot of junk. Restaurant food can be tasty no doubt, it does have health effects in the long run. We can put weight easily with excessive eating.
- Reliable Internet: Many of the working professionals/digital nomads need reliable internet for the work deliverable. Finding a reliable internet is not an easy task. You can go to various coffee shops, but it doesn’t help. The range is usually low. The only exception is when you are stationed in a house with good WIFI. As you are traveling finding the internet is a big task itself.
- Adjusting to different time zones: If you travel from one country to another. Your body will have a difficult time adjusting to different time zones. Your sleep pattern will be disturbed. With frequent traveling, you will face jet lag. Over a period, it may lead to irritation and constant mood swings.
- Difficult to maintain a routine: Maintaining a simple routine will be very difficult. If you are settled down with your routine, soon you would have to travel to a new place tossing out your routine you have maintained so far. Committing to simple things will get difficult due to many changes.
- It can limit your social life & hobbies: With constant movement, maintaining a social life is hard. You will keep meeting new people, but it will be hard to maintain a friendship for the long term. Picking up a hobby is also difficult. To pursue a hobby, you need commitment & being committed while on the go will be very tough.
- Loneliness: Many people would complain about being alone during their travels. It takes life skills to master being ok alone. Many of us would go crazy to spend time with ourselves. Even if you try to be positive, your mind somehow creeps in and makes you realize that you are all alone. Sleeping at night alone in your bed can get very difficult if you are used to staying with your partner. There are so many times you want to share about your day but there is no one to listen to.
- You don’t get time to see the city: Let's admit it, there will be a few who do get to travel for work, but they don’t get to see the city due to work pressure. This feeling is the worst in the world. Imagine you are close to Eiffel Tower and you can’t go to see it. You can’t spend time at a beautiful tourist spot due to your work.
- Can’t own a pet: If you love taking care of animals then this lifestyle will be a hindrance. As you travel it would be difficult to carry your pet around. You can’t own a pet of your own.
- Sometimes you will miss simple pleasures of life: I have a sailor friend who tells me that the best part of coming back home is getting to eat Panipuri. Simple things start meaning so much. He would say he would do anything not to travel back to work. Unfortunately, he must travel after his holidays are over.
- Language barrier: If you are traveling to Europe, many countries don’t speak English and it gets difficult to communicate with the locals. I witnessed this in France, they don’t like speaking English, if you talk to them in basic French the locals would reply to you happily.
- Unnatural attachment to Technology: You must be on your Laptop or Phone to get the work done. This leads to numerous hours of screen time and it can harm your eyesight. Due to this exposure, you are most of the time on your phone and rarely present.
- Getting Visa can be stressful: If you have traveled, I’m sure you know the stress when it comes to getting a visa. I remember getting a visa to Bulgaria was super stressful. A lot of paperwork needs to be done.
- Anxiety: Travelling for work can lead to anxiety. Anxiety when it comes to living a normal life. You would have a difficult time connecting to people. You have lived alone for a long duration, that now normal things look abnormal to you. There will panic attacks if you go to a social setting.
2 Few Personal stories
- I was in Dubai for 21 days. Most of my time, I was miserable as I was alone. I would end up eating and sleeping. Out of 21 days, only 5-6 days were productive when I met friends or visited a tourist spot. The rest of the time, I was just wasting time. I wanted to come back home. There is nothing wrong with the place, but I found it tough to survive alone. Made plans to learn cooking but the moment I knew I arrived there I did nothing. Most of the time I was wondering why I was even spending time in this country. The best moment was when I was catching a flight back to India.
- One more example is when I was traveling to Greece, I was staying there for 20 odd days. I was very happy initially to do my solo travel in Europe. By the time I reached Thessaloniki, I wanted to come back home. I was bored eating bread. I missed my family. Last few days I was done traveling. I was frustrated and craved Indian food. I was surprised to see myself struggling at the end.
- Last but not least, that night in Bulgaria. When I was held in the airport cell by customs officials, I was very vulnerable and wanted to talk to someone. I remember how I spent the entire night in my hostel. I didn’t speak to anyone just wanted the night to get over. I was scared that something bad might happen to me. I was alone in a foreign land, people couldn’t speak English, and nights like these make you think, of the repercussions if something goes bad.
3 How you can make sure that you save yourself from the dark side.
- Despite all this, you might have to travel for work then make sure you reduce the adverse effect it has on your life. We, humans, love connecting with others. So surround yourself with people, make some awesome friends on the road.
- Be home when you come back: We might take this for granted but spending time with family will rejuvenate us. This can be easily taken for granted. Make sure you spend more time with your family and make it a priority to give quality time to your wife.
- Maintain your health: It is easy to get carried away with junk foods, no proper diet. The best way is to stay where you can cook your food. Having a good breakfast or having raw foods will reduce your temptation to eat junk.
- Try to maintain a routine: It takes discipline to maintain routine on the road, try to emulate your normal routine. We are programmed to follow a routine. This will not lead to the negative side of bad patterns and behavior. It will help you in being in the right frame of mind.
- Sleep whenever you get time: Getting proper sleep has a huge advantage to your mental wellness. So sleep whenever you get time. Try sleeping at a set time as much as possible.
- Take your family if possible: You will get opportunities to travel with your family, do it. Your kids and spouse would love to spend time with you in a foreign country. A family that breaks bread together from the normal routine has a stronger bond.
- Enjoy the top sights of the city: Don’t stay in your hotel room and waste the opportunity to see a new place. You might have some awesome moments when you go out.
- Enjoy the ride: Lastly, have gratitude that you get to travel so often. Others are not so lucky to see the world. Enjoy the ride, make the most out of it. Make friends, laugh often, Be kind to other people. Live life to the optimum level. Spread the happiness to all the places you go to. This is one life make the most of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to say that don’t take up a travel job. To be honest, travel has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I wanted to show the true picture rather than showing the marketed version that travel is awesome, click amazing pictures, and post it on Instagram.
When you are traveling for work, you get to see places that would have been difficult to visit from your savings. You get to eat amazing food; you could never imagine having them. The best part is, your trip is sponsored by your company.
You get to meet some amazing people from the company. Greater opportunity within your company. You can get to travel with your boss. The opportunities are endless.
As I said, Travel is awesome, but I wanted to share the rarely spoken side of it. Take up a travel job weighing its pros and cons.
This is Shekar. I see you at the next one. Ciao.