I’ll never forget my first business trip. I was right out of college and working for McKinsey, this big consulting company in New York City. Our team’s client was a company with a division in France and there came a point during the project when one of us had to go and interview some of their employees. Since I speak some French (it was much better 10 years ago, unfortunately) our manager chose me to go.
I was in a rush getting to the airport and didn’t read my itinerary careful. So you can imagine my 24-year old surprise when I got on the plane and they ushered me into the business class section. WHOA! My seat was bigger than my apartment at the time. And the flight attendant wanted to know what I wanted to drink and she took my coat to hang it up and offered me a menu to choose from for dinner which looked like a menu from a fancy New York restaurant.
I knew I should get some sleep on the flight but I couldn’t calm my excitement for a second so I just ate a lot of food, drank a lot of wine, watched a few movies and just overall felt completely awesome being there. When I got to my ultra-plush hotel in Paris I realized that the luxury was going to continue and I was determined to eat it up. I was in Paris! In a fancy hotel! Flying business class! For free!
Of course, if you’ve traveled for work, you know where this story is headed. My trip was all meetings and meetings and not very much luxury. Sure, I slept in an amazing bed bigger than any I’d seen before, but I was so exhausted every night collapsing into it that I almost didn’t notice. Thankfully I’d been to Paris before because the only Paris I saw then was out of a window of a cab that I took between the hotel and the client’s office.
Since I became a working mom I’ve tried my darnest to minimize business travel. And for the most part, my trips have been limited to a few a year and just one or two days at a time. But since I started my current job I’ve had to travel a bit more. This week, for example, I am going on a business trip from Tuesday through Friday and I probably do this once every few months. And here’s my confession:
Once I am able to park the damn working mom guilt in the back of my mind, I really enjoy business travel.
I don’t get to fly business class but I do stay in fabulous hotels. I don’t have to cook or prep lunches or clean up the kitchen. I get a complete break in my routine. I get some quiet time at night and in the morning, when I usually go for a walk or hit the gym. I eat at fabulous restaurants (for the most part) and drink good wine without having to worry about running home to get there on time to relieve the sitter. In short, I get some MUCH needed me time. And I love it.
I felt kind of pathetic and a little guilty saying this before, but I just saw this survey in which the majority of working moms said that they enjoy business travel, mostly because it’s their chance to get some me time. We’ll take our “me” time any way we can get it!
Of course I miss my kiddo a ton when I am away and I can’t completely get rid of the guilt, but I know that I come back tired by refreshed, and refreshed is a very good thing. Before I leave I go on an organizing and cooking binge so my crew is all set. Right now, the fridge is stocked for the week, the babysitter is set to stay a little late a few nights so my husband doesn’t have to rush home, and my daughter is impatiently awaiting her gifts — one small one for every day I am gone. And me? I am packing for a week of lots of work and a little me time.
Do you enjoy traveling for business? Do you feel guilty or enjoy some “me” time while you’re away?