Written and submitted by Charmed.
Setting: Starbucks KLIA
Mood: Sleepy, I want my bed NOW!
I am just sipping my morning coffee while waiting for my turn to board. Grey sky, raindrops are drumming against the window next to me. Not the kind of weather I am anticipating for my first overseas assignment after ages. I am hoping for the sun to be out shining bright and cheering for me as a sign of ‘good luck, your day is just going to be bright like me’. Oh well, never mind, grey sky and rain is just as fine.
Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain … telling me just what a fool I have been …
Just a quick look around, it is extremely easy to differentiate between the business travelers and leisure travelers. Those facing their laptops with a frown are usually business travelers (I know because I am guilty as charged).
When I was younger (I am still very young), I used to envy those who travel for work; it is like an all-expenses paid holiday since you get to visit new countries / cities on someone else’s dime. It also acts as a social media bragging rights; posting flight ticket and passport picture, in-flight selfies (especially if you are on business class), iconic building(s) / landmark(s) of the said country or city (the list goes on) while the others are stuck on their work desks, feeling absolutely envious.
Confession: I was one of them. Travelling for work is like the best perks one can ever ask for! Indeed, this was once my ultimate deciding and winning factor when choosing between job offers.
I remembered vividly, I was so thrilled when I travelled abroad the very first time for work. Although it wasn’t all that far (it was only Bangkok and I have been there a couple of times), but still bragging rights; flying on business class for the very first time (yay to more legroom) and staying in one of the global most prominent 5 stars hotels (oh hot damn) – really, what more can I ask for? I was only a senior exec back then!
Now that I am a little less young, has my view changed? It definitely has; not that I hate it but it feels so much of a chore than fun and I have my reasons to it!
1. Deciding what to pack is mentally exhausting
If you are a frequent flyer, you can definitely attest to this. It doesn’t get easier! What to bring, how much to bring according to the weather, type of meetings, occasions, events etc… to make sure you are not underdress and embarrass yourself. That said, there is no such thing as pack light!
2. Sleep deprived
Think you can catch forty winks on your journey to make up for waking up earlier than usual? VERY UNLIKELY. You have to be vigilant and stay attentive to your surroundings to avoid unfavorable incidents which ends up being more tiring than ever! And, time difference is an absolute B**CH. Did I say jetlag yet?
3. Work, work, work and MORE work
You’ve got to settle what’s on your plate before you go. You have new tasks when you are there, on top of your day to day to-do tasks. And above all, you have to get them all done upon returning. Urgh…
4. Bloated and … constipated
Maybe, this is only me. It takes me a while to adjust to a new toilet (don’t judge!) It is as horrible as I would picture being 4 months pregnant would feel like.
5. Socialising and networking
You attend events, workshops, seminars etc… and you are expected to speak to people and answer a list of pre-set questions and do a bit of weather talk as well. I personally find it rather tiring … maybe because I am an introvert!
6. SightSEAing over sightseeing
You would expect that you would be doing a little bit of the touristy stuff to wind down the day since you are in a foreign land anyway, right? Wrong! After a hectic day, I just want to retreat to my room, order room service and make up for my sleep deprived state, and welcome the next day! And yes, since my work assignments are predominantly in the SEA region … so yeah sightSEAing (pun intended).
Given the chance at any time now, I will definitely pick travelling to places on my very pretty 80 litre Osprey backpack and at my own pace so I can breathe and soak in everything of that particular place; culturally, socially etc. I will also choose hostels/dorms over 5 stars hotel as the atmosphere and vibes are just so … different and it is more in line with my personality.
Oh, here I am after couple of hours of flight. I am about to step off the plane now to welcome my busy schedule in a foreign land. Work travels, eh? I will try to have some fun, to earn myself some … social media bragging rights … while you, you and you are stuck on your work desks!