When looking for the ideal career opportunity, reading the fine print closely might reveal important details about many things. What does it say about the amount of travel involved? Don’t underestimate the travel requirements on any position you’ve got in mind. If not prepared, the realities of work-related travel can take a toll on you in many ways.
I recently asked a frequent business traveler about his career which involves lots of travel. Emmett Ervin, MPA, CPHQ is Sr. Director, Compliance & Quality at Kindred Healthcare, Inc. Like many business travelers, he has this air travel thing under control.
Charles “Chazz” Pratt III (Chazz): Before you took the job, what was the advertised amount of travel? Once reality set in, was it more or less travel than you expected?
Emmett Ervin (Emmett): The job description listed “up to 75% travel”. After I got comfortable with the role, I was able to work with my customers and develop a travel schedule that wasn’t as chaotic as it sounds. It felt like less than 75%, after a few months.
Chazz: Travel usually equates to changing your diet since you're eating away from home all the time. How do you manage this?
Emmett: That’s tough. When you have a direct from LAX to MIA, you arrive very late and most non-fast-food places are closed, your options are limited. I occasionally will get the salad, but the burger and fries will typically win out. Since I travel frequently, most hotels know me. I’ve requested a refrigerator in my room and stock up on healthier items for the week. That’s helped greatly. I’ve also updated my American Airlines profile, so I receive low-fat meals; when meals are served. Lastly, I drink quite a bit of water while on the flight.
Chazz: I'm guessing you've found ways to make the most of your time out of town. How do you make the most of travel from a tourism perspective?
Emmett: I rarely get out with work-related travel, but when I do I access the hotel’s concierge service. Also, Google and Yelp and made my life much easier. Lastly, I have friends and family all over the country, so usually I have plans wherever my job takes me.
Chazz: What 3 travel tips can you share?
Emmett: Learn how to pack appropriately, e.g., roll items and don’t fold. There are several websites that provide detailed instructions. In my opinion, most people over pack.
Don’t check your suitcase; carry it on with you, if possible. Yes, we put a man on the moon; but bags are still lost often. Never pack medications, jewelry, or technology.
If possible, get a seat near the front of the plane. Based on where you’re sitting, it could take 10-15 minutes to get off the flight. This matters if you have a very tight connection.
Chazz: What advice would you give anyone considering a career that involves lots of travel?
Emmett: Sign up for any and all travel / rewards programs (air, car, or hotel). The miles/points do add up quicker than you think.
Unless you’re striving to make the next status level with segments, take direct flights. You can get a lot of things back, but not time.
Before accepting the position, talk it over with your family and friends. Travel is not for everybody. No matter how much you can control your travel, you will miss a few birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Always be nice to gate agents. They can make your life much easier, especially when there are travel delays.
If you have extra time, when you check in ask the gate agent if the flight is overbooked. If so, volunteer your seat; in return you should be offered a travel voucher. Can be quite lucrative. This is usually common around holidays and Spring Break.
Chazz: Any additional thought on this?
Emmett: Take advantage of Uber / Lyft, where you can. It saves greatly on airport parking.
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