Author : Aigner Mathis
So you’ve landed the job of your dreams…ok, lets be real, you’ve landed the entry level or above entry level job that could lead to the job of your dreams…and now your boss calls you into their office (dun dun dun). To your surprise they tell you that the company is sending you to another city and you are to leave in two weeks. Yes! You’ve worked your butt off, put in extra hours, made small time wasting chit chat in the break room and now your chance to shine has finally come! In your head, you are already planning your outfits, how late to book your hair appointment or cut at the barber shop so you can turn heads while traveling and in the board meetings, staying in a glorious hotel (on the companies dime) and all the beautiful landscape pictures/air port selfless that will inevitably make their way to your social media pages.
Then your boss drops the bomb – You aren’t going alone. No, you will be traveling with two of your superiors and a handful of coworkers (yes even the girl from down the hall that you can’t stand and the man that asks a million irrelevant questions to make the meeting, that could have been wrapped up in an email, last an extra 15 minutes).
Still, the thought of spending the week in another city, while being paid to be there no less, is enough to make you super excited. Now before you get carried away, STOP. Take a breath. && keep reading for a quick reality check.
For those who don’t know, I have been blessed with an amazing job where I am on the road 24/7 with my team of six. Yes you read that right! 24/7. That means a new city every week, sometimes twice a week, and sometimes only twice a month. You do the math. I have literally lived in hotels for the past 9 months of my life and no, sadly, I don’t always get a hotel room by myself!
Along the way, I have learned a lot about what it takes to keep your sanity while on the road with co-workers and management and how to have fun doing it.
#1 – KNOW YOURSELF
This is the most important advice I can bestow upon you! You have to know who you are as a person. What makes you tick? What bad habits do you have? What do you like to do for fun? You get the idea. When you know yourself you are able to be around others without conforming to their daily habits, views, lifestyle choices and their bad attitudes. You are also able to avoid conflicts. If you know that you are extremely grouchy in the mornings if you don’t eat breakfast or have your Starbucks, then you’ll know you need to wake up earlier than everyone to grab a bite at the hotel or Uber to the nearest cafe if continental buffet is not your style. Or say a few of your coworkers smoke and you don’t, then you’ll know that a cigarette will be pulled out at some point during down time, and you’ll have to react accordingly by either leaving, declining an invitation to the local bar all together, or stepping onto the dance floor while they blow smoke in the air outside. Stay true to yourself. You are not obligated to like everything they like or to do everything they do.
#2 – IT’S OK TO SAY NO
Continuing with my last thought, you don’t need to be best friends with the people you work with while traveling. You already work together, most likely stay in the hotel rooms together, and have company outings already on the itinerary. There is absolutely no need to jump up every time someone wants to grab a late night drink after a long day. You are on a work trip. I don’t think you caught that – a WORK trip. You are not here to relive college memories and see how many fireball shots you can throw back in an hour, or to try to impress your boss with your extensive wine knowledge…and then end up drinking yourself in a wine coma. Saying no will help you save face from next day horrors such as hangovers, blotchy skin, unmanaged hair (my natural ladies know what I’m talking about), and embarrassing stories about how you dropped it low on the dance floor and couldn’t get back up. Not to mention, you’ll save a ton of money!
#3 – COMPROMISE/COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Most people think that because I travel 24/7 that I am always jumping on planes and flying to every destination. HA! I wish! No, we have a huge rented suburban that we drive from city to city because it cheaper to drive a team of six around than to constantly pay for flights, luggage, food, and hotels. I learned pretty early on that compromise is incredibly important (so important that I considered listing it at number 1). If you are lucky, your company will put you up in your own hotel room, but if you are anything like me, you’ll have a roommate about 80% of the time. Having open conversations with the people you are traveling with is vital. If she/he usually showers in the morning, then it makes sense for you to shower at night. Maybe your roommate is a neat freak and you live life on the wild side when it comes to folding clothes. Talk about it! Observe each other. If you see that they are constantly picking up behind themselves, have enough courtesy to try to be neat as well or at least find a corner to throw all of your stuff in so that its out of the way. Trust me, a little communication goes a long way and is the difference between wanting to strangle someone in their sleep and possibly becoming really good friends.
#4 – FIND A WAY TO RELIEVE YOUR STRESS
This tip is definably an extension of number one. Just because you are traveling, doesn’t mean you are a different person. Stay true to YOU! Reading help take your mind off things? BRING A BOOK! Working out help relieve stress? GO TO THE GYM! (Most hotels have them, and if not, jogging around the hotel is an option) >> disclaimer: if you are going jogging or working out in the area around your hotel/city, be careful! Safety First! << It is ok to have some alone time while traveling with others.Being around other people all day every day is draining. You need to take some time every day for you, even if that’s just a 10 minute soak in the tub before bed.
#5 – BRING HEADPHONES
#6 – YOUR BOSS IS NOT YOUR FRIEND
I repeat: your boss is not your friend! Don’t get me wrong, they may be friendLY, but at the end of the day they are still your boss and this trip wont last forever. Stay on top of your game and in their good graces by remembering to be professional and on point, even during down time. They may invite you out to unwind, but know that you are on two different levels. They have probably been with the company longer than you and more than likely this isn’t their first rodeo. They’ve been on trips before and know the do’s and don’ts (I’m sure they would co-sign this list after reading). Not to mention, one wrong move or tipsy/uncensored joke from you could be taken the wrong way and the next thing you know, when you get back from the trip, you’ll be called in the office again…and this time you’ll be packing up your desk belongings & not your stylish airplane carry on.