I didn’t travel much for work until my late twenties. In positions I held during my early and mid-twenties, traveling to get the job done was either nonessential or limited. I used to commute back and forth to Boston for big meetings, or head offsite for training seminars or conferences, but travel opportunities like these were mostly infrequent.
Once my current company employed me though, things changed.
I never thought traveling for work would be important to me in my career. I love to travel, but I had always heard from fellow professionals that traveling for their jobs was not as wonderful as it seemed. Sure, some people get to go to pretty neat places like Las Vegas or New York City. But, a lot of professionals admit they spend most of their time living out of a suitcase, attending meetings in hotels, and having little time to explore the cities they find themselves in.
Well, when my company asked me to do some traveling for work, I got to experience this firsthand. I was invited on some domestic trips, including heading to places like Ohio, Arkansas, and New York. But, I was also asked to travel abroad to South America for two weeks where I visited Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico!
Some of these trips were quick journeys that involved me flying out for a night and heading back the next day, where I only saw the inside of hotels, schools, and/or airports. However, a lot of my work trips had me sightseeing, trying new food, and interacting with people abroad!
3 Ways to Make the Most of Traveling for Work
The traveling I get to do for my job might be totally different than yours, but stay with me. There are several ways you can make the most out of traveling for work, including:
1. Earning travel points.
Depending on how your company pays for travel expenses, you might be able to earn points on a travel credit card.
For example, one of my former companies had a direct bill system in place, in which I charged my travel expenses to a company card or online account, and the company covered it directly with vendors.
However, my current employer requires employees to pay for things ourselves, and we submit receipts for reimbursement later. The biggest benefit of this system I follow now is that I can use my travel credit card to cover my airfare, food, hotels, and car services and accrue points that I can later use for personal travel.
Sure, it does mean that I often have to wait a paycheck or two to get reimbursed, but it ends up working out for me in the long run because I can use my accrued points to book trips for myself!
Pro-tip: research travel credit cards if your employer’s system is like mine. There are a lot of cards with fantastic travel rewards that you can take advantage of! I personally signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and love the points system. I have enough points on my card to completely cover the cost of airfare for my upcoming honeymoon!
2. Earning miles.
If you’re hesitant about signing up for another credit card, you can actually earn travel points in another way. As I mentioned earlier, my company sent me to South America for a two-week work trip. Pretty epic, right? Well, because it was a big trip that no doubt cost a pretty penny, my company worked with a travel company to book our airfare.
There was a whole group of us going and it made things much easier to book the flights for everyone this way. I ended up not earning travel points for this trip on my personal card, but I did earn miles through my airline! I was able to use my ticket number to claim my miles through my airline, which gave me dollars to put toward future travel. In the end I earned $100 toward airfare, so it’s totally worth it to create an account with an airline you fly often and claim your miles.
Pro-tip: research different airlines and sign up for the one(s) you fly often. In my experience, rewards accounts are free with most airlines and it honestly doesn’t hurt to have an account with all of the major ones: Delta, JetBlue, etc. Also, be sure to search partner airlines. I claimed many of my miles from Delta’s partner airlines.
I get it, you’re traveling for work. You probably don’t have ample downtime to get outside and see the entire city you’re in. Heck, you might not even have enough time to sleep, eat proper meals, or shower. I know it’s hard, but that doesn’t have to totally kill your buzz!
I recently traveled to Brooklyn, New York for my company’s annual conference. Our days were jam-packed with sessions, duties, and meetings, but I did my best to make it work.
I set aside one of my lunch breaks to walk to the Brooklyn Bridge with a coworker. I had never seen this historical Brooklyn landmark before, so I knew I needed to visit it while I could. It wasn’t the entire city, but I made a point to visit something while there. And you know what? It was totally worth it!
Pro-tip: Consider waking up early, staying up late, or dedicating your lunch break to sightseeing. Try to make the most of your time in a new place. It’ll make your trip more fulfilling on a personal level.
Traveling for work most definitely comes with pros and cons. For me, the pros outweigh the cons and I appreciate all opportunities to travel for my job.
Whether it’s a quick domestic trip or something larger like a trip abroad, I find that traveling for my job enhances my relationships with my colleagues all around the world. If you get to travel for work, I hope you’re making the most of it!