4 Hidden Costs of Business Travel

by Kay Lynn


This week I’m away from home on business.  My current position  requires out of town travel 2-3 times a quarter although previous roles at the same employer required travel up to 2 weeks a month. 

When I interviewed many years ago, I thought traveling for business would be fun, adventurous and maybe even a little sophisticated.  And it was all of these for a while.  But as with most things as the novelty wore off, reality is a little different. 

Unless you are one of those that travels other than in coach it’s not sophisticated at all.  Business travel is still at times fun, but not generally.  It also can be an adventure still, but sometimes not in a good way!  Although there are direct personal monetary costs, there are other costs associated with business travel.

1. Loss of Family Time.  Mr. Boomer had to pick up my share of household duties and chores when I’m out of town.  In addition to this inconvenience, he has to spend his evenings alone without human companionship.  I also miss out on family time with Mr. Boomer, our grown children and extended family. 

2. Health.  Although it is possible to eat right and exercise on the road, it is more difficult.  You can not control the menu, ingredients or food preparation.  I often feel like I deserve to eat higher calorie foods than normal as a “reward” for being away from home.  Many of my meals are at the client’s discretion so even if I wanted to eat healthy, the options just aren’t there.

As if the food situation isn’t difficult enough, finding a way to exercise is a challenge.  Although the situation has steadily improved over the years, many hotels still have substandard exercise facilities.  I pack my athletic shoes and clothing with the idea that if I can fit in some exercise at least once that is better than nothing.

3. Personal Activities.  It is difficult to commit to activities requiring regular attendance when employment requires inconsistent business travel.  I had a volunteer position for the local chapter of PMI (Project Management Institute) which required attendance at a Wednesday evening monthly event.  It became laughable how often I had to skip this meeting because of business or personal travel which resulted in my resignation.  I’m starting a long course at church next week, but it meets weekly so I won’t feel bad about missing the occasional class.

4. Pre/Post Work.  Ever notice how you work like mad before a trip, work during the trip (day and evening with email) and then work extra afterwards to catchup?  It doesn’t seem right, does it.   Mr. Boomer couldn’t count the number of times I’m at the office late the last day before and the first day after a trip.  This results in more stress and less of the other three areas: family time, exercise and personal activities.

Please don’t think I am against business travel.  It’s invaluable at times to have that face-to-face connection with customers and I enjoy my work immensely.  It is important to realize there are greater costs to business travel than just the financial ones.

What do you think about costs associated with work travel?   

Photo by Florencio Briones 

Content © Bucksomeboomer  2009.

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Bret October 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I used to travel a lot when I was starting out in my career. It was fun and exciting when I was young and single. After I got married, my wife got tired of me being gone half of the time and asked me to get a new job. It’s probably a good thing, because the guy who mentored me still travels and he’s on his 4th marriage.

Anyway, the biggest hidden cost for me was that I had to drop out of college to take the promotion. This set me back in my education and ultimately cost me a lot of money in my career.

Bucksome October 14, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Bret, great example of having to drop out of college. I will say lost opportunity is a 5th hidden cost of business travel. Too bad you had to experience this negative one.

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