March 27th signaled the culmination of my 8th year with my company. I know some people can travel for entire careers and that works for them, but I had reached my breaking point. My health is deteriorating, I was constantly stressed out because I felt like I was always working on the road, then when I came home I was always stressing about something at home (mowing the grass because my service didn’t do it, my refrigerator breaking, water heater breaking, etc). It’s not fun when your refrigerator breaks when you are flying out first thing in the morning. I had to throw everything away, leave the door open (like back in college when you’d leave for the semester), and schedule repair people for when I got home. I had enough of Bismarck, ND in sub 0 temperatures when it was still a tolerable 40F back home in Charlotte.
Luckily my company values me as an employee so I got my travel changed to no more than once a month and only for major deals. I justified it that it’s hard to schedule appointments with the entire team of 12 I support when I’m on the road with just 1 team member. To be fair to everyone it makes more sense to leave me at home and just join using remote technology.
So far so good. I’ve joined a kick ball team, oversaw the renovation of my bathrooms (to look a bit like hotel bathrooms), fertilized and killed the weeds in my yard, and a bunch of other tasks that I never did because I would spend the whole weekend decompressing from travel. I’ve even been on a couple dates although nothing really exciting yet, but at least I don’t get written off immediately because I no longer have to say that I can’t see someone for several weeks. I’ve already been to book club more in 2014 than I did in 2013.
The downside? I managed to get Platinum on Delta, Gold on US Airways, Diamond with Hilton, and Gold with Marriott by the end of 2013. I got 10 segments on US and 10 on Delta before my travel came to a halt so at most I’ll be Silver in 1 or 2 programs this year but probably just 1 program next year.
Most common questions from my friends:
- Does this mean you have to go into an office? Yes. My office is called my living room. As far as an actual office? No. It’s 800 miles away.
- Did you change jobs? No. Same jobs, same meetings, I just do them over the phone instead of onsite. So far this cell phone plan month I’ve burned through 1,600 minutes and I’m only half way through the month. Good thing I have unlimited minutes!
- I thought you liked to travel. That’s not a question, it’s a statement, but yes, I do like to travel. I just need to work to live instead of living to work. I have a nice thing going in Charlotte and I’d like to live my life. I’m the kind of person who always kept everyone else at a distance. I still like my personal time, but I also have become comfortable enough with myself to stop running from my problems. I’ve been with the same company for 8 years. I’ve lived in the same city for 7 years. I’ve lived at the same address for 2 years now. I grew up with parents who moved me around a lot and most of my elementary career involved a new school each year. I went to the same college all 4 years and that was the longest I ever went to the same school. Travel was a coping mechanism…a way to keep people away and to keep high walls. So do I like to see the world, experience different cultures, and taste awesome food? Abso-freaking-lutely. Do I want to wake up in a new city every day? NO. Do I mind an occasional business trip? Not at all.
I would never discourage anyone from taking a travel job. Just make sure you can focus on your work-life balance, be flexible, and keep healthy.
So, what does that mean for the blog? Great things. Since I’m not traveling to earn miles but I still have a generous vacation time allowance I will still take good trips and I may finally do a bit of manufactured spending. I think there are plenty of blogs here on BA about that already though. I will be able to blog more because I won’t be so sick of traveling that I can actually read more about travel. For the past several months I haven’t even read any forums on Flyertalk aside from OMNI.