Jet-setting off to Paris and Milan for Fashion Week. Long weekends spent tasting wine at vineyards for a new client. Client dinners at the swankiest restaurants in town.
Sounds like a dream right?
Well, this isn’t Emily in Paris, so traveling for work definitely doesn’t look nearly that glamorous for a lot of the population.
It can be time-consuming and tough being away from family all the time, waking up early to catch flights across the country and barely getting home in time to make dinner for the kids — then doing it all again the next day.
Traveling for work may or may not be right for you, so if you’re considering a role that requires it for the first time, there are a lot of details you need to sort out first. For example:
How much of your time will be spent traveling? Who covers expenses? Do you get to fly first class or do you have to drive yourself?
As someone who often travels for work to attend conferences and visit other Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) offices, I understand the ins and outs of traveling for work and have some tips on how to speak to prospective employers about travel.
Learn more about what traveling for work consists of, what to ask about it in an interview and how to decide if it’s right for you.
Traveling for Work [6 Questions to Ask]
If you’re scrolling through job descriptions on Indeed and come across a position that requires applicants to be “willing to travel,” it means there’s some level of travel required for the position — or at least the potential for it. When employers ask you if you’re willing to travel for work, they’re trying to gauge your willingness and interest in it.
How much travel is required, however, is another story. Travel requirements are different at every company. You might need to go to an occasional client meeting, trade show or customer visit that comes about randomly and the employer wants to ensure you’re okay with that.
On the other hand, you could end up traveling for work frequently. Sometimes people have long-term assignments that last for several months, requiring them to fly home every weekend.
If you decide to work for a company that requires you to travel, and you refuse to do so, your job could be negatively impacted. There are usually circumstances when you can opt out of travel. However, if you refuse to travel entirely after you agreed to do so upon your hiring, it could result in termination if business needs are not being met.
Just like varying levels of travel are required for every job, travel is arranged differently from company to company — primarily regarding how you travel and how expenses are taken care of. Before you agree to any position requiring travel, make sure you ask the following questions. After all, traveling for work could change your lifestyle drastically.
Question #1: How Much Travel is Required?
Your first question, if the position requires traveling, should be to ask how much travel is necessary for the job. Employers typically provide this information as a percentage.
Find out how that travel is spread out. If 50 percent of your job involves traveling for work, does that mean you’re taking a few longer trips per year? Or are you traveling once per week? Maybe you’ll only have to travel for one part of the year during the company’s busy season.
As an example, some jobs require you to travel to a new place and stay there for a longer period, like several weeks or more. You may need to go to a new office to train team members on a program or new initiative. Other jobs might only require you to travel for short business trips — maybe a couple of days per week or once per month. Others still may ask you to fly somewhere new every week, but only for the day.
Again, every setup is different. Some of these travel styles may suit you and some may not. Asking for examples of when you’ll be traveling will help you get a feel for whether or not it’s something you may enjoy doing.
Question #2: How Will I Travel?
Find out if you’ll travel by car or if you'll need to be in and out of the airport.
If you have to drive everywhere by yourself, you may not be as keen to take on the role. Or, if you’re scared of flying, that might be a dealbreaker for you.
If you do have to drive, find out if you must use your own vehicle or if you can use a rental car or a company vehicle. If you’re flying, it’s a good idea to ask if you’re going to be flying commercially or on a company plane.
You should also find out if you need to take public transportation when you reach your destination or if you can use a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft.
Question #3: Who Covers All the Travel Expenses?
Who pays for things while you travel — you or your employer — can be a big deal. When interviewing for positions requiring travel, find out if you’ll receive a company card or if you’ll be reimbursed for your travel expenses.
In some cases, you’ll get to use a company card and then you just have to keep the receipts. In other cases, you’ll have to use your personal card and turn in your receipts to get reimbursed. This might be an excellent option if you want to earn some points on a personal card and improve your credit. Frequent travel may result in the accumulation of frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty points and other travel-related rewards — offering opportunities for personal trips or upgrades.
However, some companies may take longer than you’d like to process your expense report and reimburse you, so that’s also something to consider. Ask about the company’s reimbursement schedule.
Some companies have a daily limit and stipend. For example, you may be allotted a certain spending limit for each meal. Anything you spend above that amount will have to be covered by you. Other companies provide a stipend. For example, with a stipend, you might get a flat $150 per day regardless of whether you use it.
Question #4: Where Will I Be Staying?
Find out who will schedule accommodations and where you might be staying. Do you have to schedule all your travel or will someone else in the company do it for you?
Are you staying in fancy hotels or budget motels? All of these details may make a difference to you — especially if you feel like they concern your safety.
Question #5: Can I Use Flex Time?
At some companies, you can utilize flex time when traveling. For example, if you have to work late into the night to attend a client event, those hours you spent working outside of normal work hours can be used to take time off your clock later in the week. So if you work five hours late on Wednesday, you can work five hours less on Thursday.
Or, if you return from an event mid-afternoon, they might let you just go home.
Question #6: Can I Opt Out of Travel?
It’s a good idea to talk about the potential for opting out of travel if you anticipate some challenges in meeting all the requirements. For example, if you have a young family and school events to attend for your children, are there certain trips you can opt out of to meet familial obligations?
Find out how much travel is mandatory and if you can substitute any in-person events with virtual events. Or, determine if someone else could go in your place.
Pros and Cons of Work Travel
Traveling for work offers several advantages. For starters, it presents opportunities for networking and professional growth. Attending conferences, seminars and business meetings while traveling allows you to forge new connections, expand your network and cultivate valuable relationships. Work-related travel exposes you to diverse cultures and experiences as well.
Additionally, traveling for work facilitates skill development, as it necessitates adaptability, problem-solving and effective communication. Traveling for work can also break the monotony of routine and inject excitement into your professional life.
However, there are downsides to consider as well. Being away from home and loved ones for extended periods can take an emotional toll and strain personal relationships. The physical challenges of frequent travel, such as jet lag and travel fatigue, can disrupt your well-being.
The blurring of boundaries between work and personal life can result in a lack of work-life balance, increased stress and limited time for personal activities. The demands of constant travel and juggling work responsibilities can contribute to burnout, affecting both physical and mental health.
Pursue a Career in Transportation
While traveling for work offers networking opportunities, exposure to new cultures and skill development, it also entails time away from home, jet lag, disruptions to work-life balance, health risks and the potential for burnout. It’s crucial for you to find a balance that aligns with your preferences and priorities.
Before you say yes to a job that requires you to travel for work, ask how much will be required of you and what it entails. The details matter and can mean the difference between a job you love and one you can’t wait to quit.
At ATS, we require 10 percent travel. Team members may have to make a customer visit to tour a facility and strengthen their relationship with that customer. ATS also offers employees growth opportunities in the form of conferences they can attend for additional education and training.
If you’ve ever desired a career in transportation, see what we have to offer as a well-established, family-owned, stable company. We’re not just another trucking company that’s only hiring truck drivers. ATS has positions open for individuals in sales, information systems, customer service, operations, accounting and more.