I spent a large part of my working life as a road warrior, attending to business all over the world. I can relate to virtually every situation in the movie “Up in the Air”. I made the decision a few years ago to stop. While I would not trade the experience that I had and the opportunities that it provided me for anything, I don’t miss it. There are perks that keep on giving, like permanent gold status on a few airlines and a few unused accumulated points that have not been used up for hotels, flights and cars. I am also able to immediately fall asleep on an airplane, often before it leaves the ground. I am a proficient user of Skype and WeChat.
I recently had the opportunity to visit with another ex-road warrior. We shared stories of waking up at odd hours in hotel rooms wondering what city you where in; of planes missed or nearly missed; of hard to get used to foreign customs; and having to explain to folks that it is less exotic than it sounds when your trip consists of airport to taxi to hotel to meeting back to taxi to airport and then out – it doesn’t really matter what city or country that you are in. My personal favorite observation is the number and variety of complicated alarm clocks in hotel rooms and their ability to be off by 12 hours or some other random number of minutes, even though there was no apparent way to re-set them – thank goodness for smart phones in recent years.
There is a lot to be said for coming home to the same place every night, being able to plan on attending a local event, and being available for family when needed. I no longer must fly out on a holiday to attend a meeting in a country that does not recognize that holiday or try and create a special occasion while the family is living in a hotel room. I no longer wake up or get sleepy at random times while consistently in the same time zone.
I occasionally speak to groups about working globally and often get the chance to mentor others about overseas or heavy travel opportunities. The ability to live in other cultures is the best way to see the world and to become a part of the global community. Working remotely greatly increases your chances for greater responsibility and to hone your skills. However, it is far more stressful on both you and your family than you might imagine. I almost always say – take the chance but know the risks.