When I tell people that I travel as part of my job, they usually think it’s pretty glam.
Oh and I’m not talking about my blog life by the way, when I go gallivanting off on trips at the weekend. I mean my “proper job”, my full-time 9-5 that supplements my adventures. Because although I have an office-based role, I get to travel abroad about 6 times a year on business.
It’s funny because I vividly remember the process that I went through when deciding which career to embark upon and a massive pro for going into Fashion was the fact that there is usually travel involved. Weirdly this was before I had even travelled anywhere, I think I’ve just always needed change and variance in my life! And travel definitely jazzes things up, y’know?
And here I am a decade later (10 years? When did that happen??) still working in the Fashion industry, despite working in lots of different departments and fine-tuning the kind of job I wanted. And luckily my job still involves travel.
I actually initially started my career in Fashion Buying where you get to go on supposedly glamorous shopping trips and visit trade shows in the European capitals. But now it’s a little different and I travel for Sales conferences and big meetings. But whatever the reason, I feel like travelling for business is always the same. It’s still work.
I mean, in 2017 so far I’ve managed to visit Cologne, Paris, Barcelona and Dublin as part of my job, which is pretty cool right? But have I really got to see those destinations as I would if I were visiting of my own accord? Nah brah.
I don’t want to completely disregard travelling for work though as it definitely has some perks. You do get to get a feel for a country and it makes you think about whether you want to come back on your own and properly discover the destination. You pretty much get a little taster of the place. But the reality of it is that work trips tend to involve very long days combining an early start with a full-length working day.
To explain this I’ll take my Dublin trip as an example so you can really see the pros and cons here.
My work trip to Dublin back in June was 3 days/2 nights away from home. And it started with a 3am wake-up, a taxi to the airport, a short flight and an hour drive out to the Dublin countryside before arriving at the hotel at 8.30am. Ready for a full day of meetings and presentations until 6pm. Then you have to socialise and go out to dinner with everyone (which for an introvert is the most draining thing ever). Yep I told you, LONG DAYS. And in my experience you usually spend most of the time in hotel function rooms.
But on the plus side, we stayed at a truly beautiful luxury hotel with gorgeous grounds and great food that I wouldn’t usually be able to afford (definitely check out Powerscourt Hotel), so it was definitely a rewarding travel experience. And we always have nice dinners out on these trips, so one night we went to Johnnie Fox’s in the evening and got to have a fab night of Irish dancing and a folk band! It could not have been more Irish!
So this is what I mean about getting a feel for a place. I feel like I saw a little slice of Ireland on this trip but if anyone asks me if I’ve ever been to Dublin, I say ‘yes’ and then they ask me for recommendations on what to do there… I don’t have any to give. Well, you know, other than the cool pub and fancy hotel. But still, you’ll notice I haven’t really mentioned any of these destinations on my blog because I dont really know them all that well.
Even if I go back to my Buying days when the business trips sound infinitely cooler, it’s still quite stressful. Yes you’re being paid to go shopping and it may sound pretty glamorous to be able to stroll through Paris scouting out what’s cool and what the trendy independent shops are selling. But the reality of it is that you have to walk around a city all day, trying to pack as many shops as possible and come back to the office with results. You have to tell people what’s cool at the end of it and it’s a helluva lot of pressure. So you know, not as glam and way more stressful than it sounds.
Similarly I went to Wireless Festival in London in my buying days for my then work, New Look. My pal Gemma and I were sent there to style-scout and present our findings back to the team. And yeah, doesn’t it sound super cool to get to go to festivals for free as part of your job? Nope, it was actually really hard. Because the pressure was on. We had to go back with mood boards of our findings telling everyone what the urban youth scene was saying on the fashion front.
And essentially I think that’s the point of work trips isn’t it? The business you work for has invested money to send you somewhere and they want a return on their investment. Nowadays at my Sales Meetings I’m expected to network and provide support to my team, it’s not a walk in the park.
But here’s the thing, although business trips are never as glam as they sound, there is a way to maximise them to your advantage. I’ve noticed a few people at my work do this and it’s definitely something I’m going to try to do!
You simply take a day’s annual leave after the meeting/conference/whatever it is you’re there for, and ask to fly back a day later. That way you give yourself a day to experience the destination you’re in and you’re not paying for flights because you’re there with work! I did this once in my previous job and got to see a bit of Berlin around work duties, so although knackering it can be a good idea. I’m definitely going to try to do this again next year! I think you just have to be super organised and speak to whoever arranges the trip early on.
So overall I think business trips can be a nice perk and a good opportunity to get a little test-run of a destination. Kinda like a Playstation demo from 2001, where you try the first level to see if you wanna buy the game, y’know? But I just thought it was worth noting that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s early starts, long days, more socialising than I care for and a good dollop of hard work.
Do you have to travel as part of your job? What do you think of it – a fabulous perk or an exhausting element of your role?
Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!