Travelling for work: Concerns


#1

My business is offerring me the chance to travel out to Missouri in January (10th through 24th) to conduct some surveys in some our retail outlets. I’ll, of course, be compensated for expenses.

I’ve never travelled for work before, so I’m nervous. I’m single, no strings attached in anyway really, and young. However, what makes me nervous is the thought of being alone, not around family or friends, for two whole weeks. I’ll be dining alone, coming “home” (to my hotel room) alone each night, and, of course, doing my job alone - driving from one store to the next alone in my rental car.

And I wonder about the weather too. I really hope it doesn’t snow.

The thought of how lonely I’ll be really makes me not want to do, but I think this is a valuable opportunity to “step up to the plate” for my company, plus it will be give me great experience and look good on my resume.


#2

Your employer is responsible for ensuring your safety. Make sure they get you hooked up with someone where you will be working who can show you around, and perhaps help you get settled when you get there.

I worked away from home in two different states for about five and a half months at one time. I was in corporate housing, by myself. I injured my back seriously in the shower one morning and I was terrified because no one knew were I was staying, and I was in the middle of Delaware and didn't know anyone but the people I worked with. I called the condo office and had them call an ambulance for me, and when I got to the hospital I called a local co-worker. She was more than happy to help me get back to my condo, she even went and picked up my prescriptions for me and brought me lunch. :) I was out of commission for a week with torn muscles in my back (stress related) - but my employer was right on top of making sure I was cared for and that someone was checking on me.

You do not have to be alone and afraid - and do NOT be afraid to speak up and tell your manager that you have concerns. This is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of being a responsible employee. You are their asset - and they want to protect their assets by keeping you safe. Make sure they do that!!!

Oh ---- and have fun!! Traveling for business can be a really fun time too, a great opportunity to see parts of the country you would not go to otherwise. Enjoy!!

~Liza


#3

Precisely what you said in the last sentence. I can tell you I "envy" you because I've been working from home for more than half of a year and I'm not that introvert. I wish I could go anywhere on a meaningful purpose and get paid for it. Besides, short assignments outside are always fun. They allow you to unwind a bit, get some rest from the usual routine (even if there's another one right there), see some different faces and so on. Go for it.

Plus, getting married, which you probably intend to do at some point, results in seeing your birth family less, same with friends. It's basically one big assignment with a woman. :p And you don't get compensated. :p


#4

My husband travels for work a lot. He used to do a few weeks at a time, but with his new job he does frequent overnighters.

He loves it–it makes him feel valuable to the company–but of course it has its downsides. Some of his tricks:

[LIST]
*] For meals out by yourself, go to a “pub” or “brewery” style restaurant where you can sit at the bar. You’ll feel less lonely watching TV or chatting with the bartender, and other customers are more likely to strike up conversations at a bar.
*] Don’t hole up in the hotel room too much–find a bookshop or coffeeshop nearby where you can read or catch up on email.
*] Ask the people you are working with if they want to join you for dinner. Sometimes your company will even foot the bill.
*] Bring DVDs with you to play on your laptop if you’re lonely in the evening.
*] Use downtime to call friends and family that you have lost touch with.
*] Take note of how much money you save by living off the company’s dime whenever you travel. That’s time that you don’t have to heat your home, pay for your own meals, etc. Woohoo!
*] If you end up traveling a LOT for work, invest in great luggage. My husband’s Samsonite luggage handle broke on a recent trip and it was a great annoyance to him. He replaced it with a Briggs & Riley piece that he found discounted at a local luggage shop. He’s madly in love with his new luggage, like a kid with a new toy. :slight_smile:
[/LIST]


#5

Missouri isn't that far away and two weeks really isn't that bad. I travel for work at least two weeks every month, most of it out the country, and it can get really lonely. It gets even worse when very few people speak english. Avoid spending your time locked up in a hotel room. I make a rule of not spending any time in my hotel room apart from sleeping. Try to go out and explore the town you're in or go out for dinner with your colleagues. You also might want to bring a lot of books or go out and buy a Nintendo DS or something. Also, don't fall into the trap of eating too much just because it is on someone else's dime - it isn't worth it.


#6

You won’t really be alone, with God AND a whole host of saints and angels looking over your shoulder! PLUS, here are a few tips to make the most of your ‘downtime’; DON’T sit in your hotel room! Plan ahead, and try to visit some interesting churches or shrines in the area, if any. Try to find out if there are any large and active parishes in the area - preferably one with a young-adults ministry. Contact the ministry leader, and ask if they will allow a ‘visitor’ to join in on their meetings or activities while you are there - I doubt they would turn you down; plus, you may also meet someone there that wouldn’t mind showing you around to some interesting local sites. Make the most (in a wholesome manner) of the time you are there - you won’t be young and single forever! :thumbsup:


#7

You're an adult. You can handle this.

But count on it snowing.


#8

I’m not sure why you are so focused on how “lonely” you will be. If you aren’t comfortable being with yourself, or rely so heavily on friends or family this is a good time to move past that.

Bring a laptop and a good book. Redbox is great for renting videos and you can rent/return from different boxes. Plus you can always buy a book or magazine in Missouri.

I travel a lot for work. I eat by myself all the time-- NOT at the bar. Single woman on business at the bar = advertising the wrong thing.

I go to movies by myself. I go shopping by myself. I go wherever. I do ask the hotel staff for recommendations for restaurants and ensure there are no safety issues in the area I should know about.

But, now with Google at your finertips, you can find whatever you need and lots of places to eat. You can find fun things to do and a church for Sunday online too.

If you are bad with directions/maps, pay the extra $ and get a GPS in your rental car. Stay at a hotel that has a restaurant in it in case you are not comfortable going out or if you just want to chill out.

Get signed up with frequent traveller programs. If you are staying at a hotel 2 weeks you will earn lots of points. Same with car. Not so much on one flight, but they add up if you have the chance to travel in the future.


#9

I completed an internship in Lafayette, Louisiana this summer and had the opportunity to do some traveling to another office while there.

Moving 1200 miles away from everyone I knew was intimidating to say the least. I basically spent 3 months straight by myself. I read a lot, went out to eat, and spent wayyyy too much money because I was bored and depressed.

I would suggest eating healthy food while traveling- I think junk food makes you depressed. You can also exercise at the hotel gym and pool, read, see the sights, do some shopping, etc. You may end up having fun!

Also, driving in the snow isn't bad, you'll get the hang of it. Just don't slam on your breaks if you start to slide. Let the car regain traction and steer the best you can.

Congratulations on the opportunity and good luck!


#10

I travel far more than I would like. The key for me is maintaining my spiritual disciplines and digging deeper into my faith. Travel is a great opportunity to do this. Alone time never feels strange when I have my off-time scheduled… We are never alone. This is a great time to move deeper in your faith. Have you considered this might be one of the reasons God has provided this opportunity to you?

Pax Christi


#11

I also just want to add that when I arrived in Louisiana I began to panic thinking I couldn't handle it, but I made it! You will be fine too!


#12

I too travel alot for work and spend lots of time in hotels. You have recieved alot of great suggestions so far. If I have to be in the same place for several days, I try to make my hotel room more like home. I take snacks and drinks to my room and that saves some money. I take along bubble bath and sometimes even get the little bottles of wine and pretend I am in a spa! If I have to be in the car all day or sitting in meetings all day, I find a mall or even a Wal- mart and go walking so I get some exercise. I always carry my rosary ring and get some quiet prayer time in. This will be a great opportunity to have an adventure! If you need to call “home” every night, it’s OK. Do whatever you need to to be comfortable. Have fun!


#13

If you are in So Mo, you won't likely get snow. If you are Jeff City or above, pack show shoes :)

Ask your co-workers about good local eatires.

Check Parish websites (use www.masstimes.com) and find evening events at Churches where you will be. I used to travel for work, and knew what night of the week there was a sketty supper at saint such and thus, Bible study over here, penance service at this one, and even found adoration chapels all over the place!


#14

You’re going to be able to expense your meals, right? Use the trip as an opportunity to eat more healthily than you do at home, because you’ll have more food choices. Make maintaining your health a high priority, and work out in the hotel gym or pool if you’re able.

This will keep you in a better mood and help you endure the stress of being “on the road”.


#15

I wish I had a job that made me travel when I was young. I have had to travel some over the last 10 years. It has not been a regular part of my job but from time to time I have had to go on one assignment or another. I am married and have three small children, so traveling is no fun because I really don’t like being away from my family.

I agree that being willing to travel is a good thing from a professional standpoint. It makes you more valuable. I don’t think I can agree with the one poster that said you should let your boss know about your fears. I have been a manager for nearly 2 decades and my reaction would not be good. Now, I’m a pretty understanding boss. But, if an employee that I asked to travel on assignment, especially a young one, told me that they were scared to be away from home and family, I would see it as a sign of immaturity. Sorry, but that was my first reaction.

I moved out of state last year for a job. I came out by myself for 2 weeks before going back and getting my family. It was the longest stretch away from my wife and kids in 15 years. I got a cheapy video cam for my laptop. Each night, I rushed home and did a video meeting with my wife and kids. It’s not the same as being there, but better than a phone call.


#16

You’ve gotten a lot of good advice and will add a couple tips. I’ve had to travel away from family and friends often for music gigs and music studies, sometimes to other countries. I’m an introvert, so it’s so I don’t mind being alone, but even so, I have been lonely at times when traveling. It was particularly hard when I was away from my husband across the ocean for a few weeks at a time.

But here are a few things how I handled it: 1) I kept a journal to express my feelings at the moment. It was very helpful of letting it out. 2) Whenever I was out and about by myself during down times, I was always sure to bring a book to read or study/review my music or languages so that I’d keep myself busy. 3) Before I left for any place, I always did some research on the city/area for museums, historical sites, concerts, etc. This way, I can plan on my off times to see these things. You can sometimes experience more when exploring on your own. Although, always be aware of your surroundings and let someone know where you are going. 4) Become friendly with your co-workers. You may actually enjoy hanging out with them.


#17

I used to travel a lot for work when I was younger, roughly ages 22-25, (not that I am too old now). The list above is great. Sometimes I would travel alone and other times with co-workers.

I also traveled on business to Kansas City, MO and St. Louis, MO many times, so I know those areas well. When traveling alone I would usually try to eat dinner at a pub style restaurant or place where I can sit at a bar, watch some sports/news and talk to random people or the bartender/wait staff. In addition, when waiting for your flight at the airports you can sit at bars/restaurants and get some food (or a drink if you want) and talk to the other travels, people in airports are always looking to chat and there are so many good ice breakers such as - where are you headed? What brought you to [insert current city]? etc.

Try to spend some time going out with co-workers that you’ll be meeting with during the trip. They might not be around for dinner or happy hour, but I bet they will want to get lunch with you.

There will probably be a few nights you’ll just end up going back to the hotel and not doing much. If you aren’t too tired (work travel can be pretty tiring at times) I recommend bring a good book, a movie, or working out at the hotel gym.

In addition, you can ask the hotel staff for recommendations on local attractions, places to eat, etc. Also ask your co-workers at the stores you’ll be going to about places they recommend or things you should do.


#18

Some of the other responses remind me of a tip I read in a "work travel" article a few months ago. If your business schedules your arrangements for you, the person doing the scheduling is often (1) not well traveled and (2) instructed to cut as many corners as possible.

It's wise to request a direct flight and a hotel with a gym. Like other posters said, working out will keep you from being too blue...plus the sketchy hotels that you want to avoid typically do not have gyms, and it gives the company a legitimate reason for why you want a more upscale hotel, rather than appearing greedy.

Family men usually don't like flying on Sunday nights (and insist on Monday morning flights which are more expensive), but you might actually enjoy flying out Sunday night. It'd give you some more time to make yourself at home in the hotel and you could squeeze in a little sight-seeing.

Are you from a warmer climate where you don't get snow very often (or at all)? I'm from Minnesota and I'd love to travel to the "deep south" of Missouri this winter, just for a 10-degree temperature increase! :P


#19

I travel all the time for my job and remember having some apprehension the first time I did so too. Keep in mind that it is like most experiences in life, if you go into it afraid and worrisome, you will probably not enjoy it. If you go into it excited and looking forward to a new opportunity, you will probably have a great time.

Here are my 2 cents as someone who spends too much time on business travel. Stay somewhere with features you will appreciate. If you like to exercise, be sure it has a gym or is near places you can walk. I like to stay places with a free breakfast. Even if my company (which is now me) will reimburse me for food, the per-diem is usually better spent as is my time on a nicer dinner or lunch. Force yourself to dine out once in a while so as to not become a recluse, but realize that if you are uncomfortable being out late at night for dinner or if the weather is uncooperative, most of the hotels do have delivery available even if they don't have room service. Just ask at the front desk. Driving in snow is really not a big deal. Really. If you are going to have the same rental car for the 2 weeks, I'd stop at a grocery store and pick up a few things that I like to have along with me somewhere early along the way. Certainly bottled water would be included on that list as hotel water never tastes quite right and the bottle water at a hotel costs $$$!

Have fun! One of the first work trips I was sent on was to NYC and being a naive little gal from Nebraska I had a great time taking the subway around 11 PM by myself just for fun. If I had a daughter who did such a thing I'd smack her silly.

Ask people you visit in the stores you travel for good dining suggestions. Some may offer to join you, so you don't have to be alone. My favorite places in MO that are chains are Pasta House in St. Louis and Steak and Shake.


#20

Thanks to everyone who has replied! I appreciate all the recommendations. :cool:

As I mentioned, I will be travelling alone - so there will be no co-workers for me to mingle with. The nature of the job and the purpose of the trip is for me to get in a car a drive all over MO conducting these surveys. I have no travelling companions, nor will I meet up with anyone. I'm a loner the whole trip! :eek:

Your words, though, do give me hope that I should be able to do this successfully. :thumbsup: I have travelled alone before, but never for such an extended period of time nor over such great distance. I suspect I will drive around 1000 miles, if not more, in those two weeks. :eek: It seems I will be spending most of my time in-between St. Louis and Kansas City, with some possible drifting into the south of the state.

My concern about snow is that, well, I live in NC and we don't get snow: we get ice. So, when I think snow, I think ice - and when I think ice, I think horrible roads. I imagine, though, that MO has a better system implemented for wintry weather than NC. However, just to be on the safe side, I'll rent an SUV! :D

I definitely like the idea of staying in hotels which feature workout rooms. I need that! I currently go to the gym just about every evening after work, and to go for two weeks without stretching some muscles and putting forth a little sweat would probably drive me insane! And while I'm sure I'll find plenty of stuff to keep my occupied during my stay in St. Louis and Kansas City, I'm a little worried about what I'll do while staying in those podunk towns along the way. I guess that's where "take a book" fits in - which is good, since that will give me time to continue with my study of Charles Ives. :)

I am preparing by prayer and trying to trust in the Lord, knowing that he will get me through this and any "pains" will just have to be offered up.


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