As a child, I didn’t travel too far from home. Our semi-annual (if that often) vacations were to states surrounding ours: Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas… Needless to say, I wasn’t a well-travelled child.
Traveling as a Student
When I got into high school, travel reps would come to our high school and offer group tours to places like Europe and Central America. Since these were group tours for high school students, prices were reasonable. If I remember right, they were about $2,500 per student. However, I wanted to look beyond the $2,500 price tag. It was important to consider opportunity cost.
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These trips were planned for the summer – prime time for earning money.
Not only did I have to consider the $2,5000 for the trip, but I also lost the opportunity to make about $1,000.
Plus, the money couldn’t be invested and begin earning compound interest (which is important when young). The trip now cost $3,500 or more. Too much for me to justify.
Fast forward to my last year of college – the year of job hunting. I probably watched George Clooney’s Up in the Air (my favorite movie) more times than I'd like to admit. But the idea of trying to travel for work was planted firmly in my head. I’d also had an internship the prior summer that had involved some travel – it was amazing.
Traveling as an Adult
I got a job after college as an analyst for a Fortune 500 financial services company. Part of what the job entailed was going on-site to banks across North America. We helped train higher-ups at the bank on how to use our proprietary profitability product. I loved getting to travel while getting paid.
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Being paid to travel felt like I had won the lottery.
- You get to savor local food. If you’re in Philadelphia, get the world’s best Philly cheese steak. Enjoy the culinary delights.
- You usually get to keep frequent flyer miles, hotel points, car rental points, and other such travel perks. Those add up to free vacations when you’re not working. Pretty sweet.
- Meeting business people from miles away can give you a new perspective on how work is done. It’s good to expose yourself to new ways of thinking.
- Your LinkedIn connections fill out quite nicely when you’re meeting new business people each week.
- Introducing yourself gets easier after a few trips. That’s a skill you can use, for work and for pleasure. It helps me since I’m naturally shy.
- We had a travel agent do all of our bookings. She knew where I like to sit on a plane, my preferred hotels, my preferred car rental company… She even knew that I liked taking a corporate plane when possible.
- Seeing sites while getting paid felt like I was doing something illegal. Although it’s not a vacation per se, I once got stranded as my flight was extremely delayed. An extra night in Boston was pretty awesome. And clients will often give you time to see the local sites. Some locals are pretty proud of their city. Sometimes, they even act as tour guides.
- Breaking routine. Life can get stale if all you do is go to the same office from nine to five each day. Travel breaks that up, for sure.
- You get to sort of live for free when you travel for work. Your living expenses like food, transportation, and housing are provided.
- This is probably stupid to say, but there’s something cool about being a business traveler. I had the opportunity to go to Canada I wanted to go just so I could jokingly say I was an international businessman.
I think traveling for work is a fantastic experience for anyone who’s young, single, and enjoys a little adventure. Every chance I get to travel for work, I embrace it. It really is the best of both worlds: work and pleasure. I strongly believe that the line between work and pleasure should be permeable.