Some would say that if you get to travel around the world in your job, it’s a luxury and a perk. Friends of mine often comment about me flying business class, drinking champagne in airport lounges and lording it up in fancy hotels – based on that naive description its hardly sounds the most painful of experiences. I often try and tell them that being away from home, shuffling from terminal to terminal and sleeping in a bed for 9 hours made for dopey’s slightly taller brother is not what it’s cracked up to be. As we all know the air con on planes dries up every moist part of your body and dehydration and crackly skin is more or less issued with your boarding pass. Bear in mind that even the simplest long haul is a good 12 hours door to door, it’s like 2 days at work in one shift. I truly believe in what a fellow traveller once told me that for every hour your out of your time zone, it takes you that many days to recover when your back. For most of us, business class on a red eye flight (that’s the one that goes overnight) means you grab a shower at Heathrow and you are back at your desk by 9.00 – jetlag, what jetlag !
It’s hard graft, mentally exhausting and can be a little scary as a women on your own.
Yes, I am lucky in the sense that I get to see amazing parts of the world, but generally it’s from the back of a cab on route to the hotel. The closest I get to the sights is the in hotel magazine that shows me all the wonderful things I could have seen if I didn’t have to be in the office at 7. Let’s not forget the compulsory entertaining with your global colleagues either and the fact you always come back fatter than you left. If I was at home I wouldn’t be eating for Britain with people who I really have nothing in common with, who want to talk about nothing more than work. You miss your family, your home, your bed, amongst other creature comforts, and if, like me you have been doing it for years, the novelty kind of wears off and you long to stay stationary, for a couple of weeks at least. Worse still if you are out on a long time zone and in meetings, you can completely miss windows to phone home, as I have done on many occasions.
Don’t be fooled, a travelling job may sound really wonderful, however, the reality is that it’s a fairly lonely and tiring existence and all you have for company is the keyboard on your blackberry or your laptop. If you have a travelling friend or husband, you will know only too well the texts you get in the middle of the night as us travellers lose all concept of time, and we are often too tired to count 6 hours forward or 5 hours back.
As I write this, I am concious that I may come across as ungrateful for my position, I know I could change it tomorrow. However, with the world becoming more and more flat, travel overseas has become more and more common place. For me having the particular skill set I have, travel is always going to be part of the deal, so I either switch industry or put up and shut up.
So the upshot ladies from this particular seasoned Judith Chalmers, if you get a role with global travel then enjoy it by all means, but be prepared for the day it becomes a bind. It’s hard graft, mentally exhausting and can be a little scary as a women on your own. It’s not always glam, there is no strapping fella to drag your over packed suitcase off the carousel and if you are not in seats 1-12 on the plane, your unlikely to get your first choice of meal. Other than that, enjoy the tag of international jet setter loudly announced by your friends and family at parties and the perception that you and richard branson are on first name terms…
Enjoy… Yours from Chicago Airport..