Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Making work trips "work" for me

One of my ongoing struggles with my job is that it includes international travel. For a variety of reasons, international travel for work is no fun. Jet lag, it's hard on my family, I typically gain weight, it's more difficult to exercise, two very long travel days are miserable, etc. I've also decided in 2020, than on the whole, things with work have stabilized, and I will stay in the role, at least for the short period. I'll be continually evaluating to ensure the role remains a good fit.

So, that leaves me with the unsatisfying & frustrating international travel piece. I decided to try & change my mindset for 2020, and get the work travel to "work" for me, vs resenting/dreading it so much. While some things are out of my control, I also want to ensure I'm doing what I can to make the trips as easy as possible.

Here's how I'm thinking of this for 2020:

  • Have M join me at the end (or beginning) of one of the work trips. Plan a personal trip attached to it, which will reduce costs of us going on an international vacation, but allow us to explore new places. (We will have my parents come to stay with the kids, as we normally would.)
  • No drinking on work trips. When I'm not traveling, I have 1-2 drinks on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. I'd like to cut this down to 1 drink/evening, even when I'm at home. This is for health, calories & financial purposes. On work trips, we tend to have happy hour events basically every day, and I have wine on the flight to/from, at the airport lounge, etc. While I never drink beyond the point of moderation, the calories still add up quickly & means that I'm typically coming home with an extra pound or so. This will be VERY hard for me, as the glass of wine or beer at the end of a long work day with colleagues is very much ingrained in the business travel. I'll also have to work to break my own habits of ordering (free) wine on the flights or in the airport lounges. Even if I'm able to break this habit 80% of the time, it would be a huge improvement.
  • Status. I'm planning my work trips in a more organized way this year, in an attempt to earn gold status on my preferred personal airline. This requires some effort, as my personal airline doesn't fly internationally, so I need to work through partner airlines, understand limitations, etc. And, typically this only works for trips to Asia, not Europe. But, if I can achieve gold status, it will give us a lot of perks & benefits for personal travel, which puts a nice spin on the need to travel.
  • Miles/points. Use miles for personal travel & be clear on how much we're saving by using these perks. I was able to book our travel to Whistler using miles earned exclusively via business travel, saving us about $3k. I've been saving hotel points for a similar type of deal, and hopefully we will have opportunities to track & use these as well in 2020-2021. Knowing that the travel pays off in some small way for my family helps me feel more positive about it.
  • Credit card perks. I'm able to use my personal credit card for hotel expenses while traveling. I earn 3% back on all travel charged to my credit card, so there is some small financial benefit.
And, I always aim to stay healthy while on trips: get plenty of sleep (difficult, with time zones), work out, & eat well. I'm going to amp up my efforts in this area in 2020. Any other tips or suggestions you'd recommend? How do you stay healthy when you internationally travel? 


  1. If you travel a lot points do add up. I know when my sister as traveling she had some great deals. But I also know this is hard on you.

    1. The jet lag, in particular, is no fun. I think the rest I can find solutions for.

  2. I definitely think having your hubby fly to meet you at the end is a wonderful way to take advantage of your work/travel schedule. Even if it happens once a year it is a good idea. Hubby travels less than he used to but we do rack up the travel pts on our ccs so thankful for that. Hoarding your hotel points for personal hotel stays is also a great idea. Anything to make your life better!

    1. We're definitely going to explore that, as an option to make work travel be more fun. We'll see!