Traveling for Work

Dinner cruise aboard Bauhinia in Hong Kong 

People would often tell me how envious they are with my work because I get to travel a lot. I usually just answer with a shy smile but deep inside I say to myself they do not know the unglamorous side of it. Sure I get to see places I never imagined traveling to in my lifetime, but there are times when I also get tired and cranky. This morning I came across this article from The Financial Diet (TFD) and it quite sums up what I feel and go through each time I 'travel for work'.

I arrived last Sunday from Hong Kong. We organized an event (a big one if I may add, with more than 250 attendees) and we were on our toes from October 28 to November 1. When I reached home, I unpacked my luggage, sat down for a bit to rest then took a long shower. I was off to dreamland at about 10pm and boy it was the best sleep I've had for days. If it wasn't for my alarm clock, I wouldn't have woken up in time for work the next day.

It takes me a couple of days to recover from a business trip, or a week even for long-haul flights. There is the preparation part- the laborious coordination with our counterparts, speakers and participants which takes months, all logistical arrangements, packing materials to bring, and packing my own stuff. Most often than not, we have a scheduled meeting hours after arriving at our destination, followed by early morning calls, business lunches and late dinners. Sometimes, it does not matter if we stay at a 5-star hotel because we don't get to use the amenities anyway. We are lucky if the hosts are generous enough and would offer free tours. This is the only time we get to see some of the city's main attraction. Then we fly back home, unpack, prepare written reports (liquidation is my least favorite part), answer a gazillion of work emails, etc etc.

From my little experience of traveling for work, I learned four things which may be beneficial to other corporate slaves like me:

1. The key to avoid work travel burnout is proper rest and good sleep. I agree with the TFD author when she said you have to rest days leading to your scheduled travel and after your trip. I'd say getting a good sleep before, during and after is also helpful. Sleep will allow you to function well and think clearly during meetings and presentations. It will also help you feel less exhausted during the entire duration of your trip.

2. Take time to recover. I am a little close to the burnout phase and my backaches are getting unbearable. After a business trip, I would not usually go out for two to three days to allow my body to just rest and return to its "regular programming." If I have some cash to spare, I would have a 40-minute massage at this tiny spa just below my apartment. Right now I have a feeling my back needs a good gentle stretch so I signed up for a free yoga trial class tomorrow at a yoga studio nearby. I did yoga before but I quit after switching jobs.

3. Pack smart and travel light. Packing is such a chore but we cannot get away with it. I would first check our destination's weather and prepare my clothes three days ahead. I usually pack the right number of undies plus one or two extra just in case. I'm not comfortable wearing disposable ones but that's just me, you may opt to use them for convenience. I prefer dresses for work trips because they're easier to wear and lighter to pack. I just throw in a coat/blazer for a more polished look. I bring a pair of flats (which I wear during the flight) and a pair of black heels.  I carry my own toiletries because I once had an allergic reaction to a shower gel of a hotel many years back.

4. Don't forget to enjoy. Work trip is not a vacation, but you must also enjoy. Take advantage of free time in between meetings to have a short walk around the city or interact with the locals. You may even ask your local host for recommendations on which places to visit or restaurants to try. If your company allows you to extend for a day or two, that should give you enough time to tour. For this trip to Hong Kong, our boss allowed us to join the optional tour to Macau (he also agreed that the company pays for it-- thank you!!!). These little things inspire me to work even harder for him and for the organization.

And now some shots taken during my recent travel for work.

 We watched Franz Harary's House of Magic Show in Studio City, Macau. It is a pretty Hollywood-inspired casino which opened October 27.

 After the show, we went to Sands where I was stopped at the entrance. I told the ladyguard I was born 1988 but she wanted to see my ID. She checked my residence card and stared at me for a few seconds before apologizing. Oops.

 We had a buffet lunch in Macau Tower, where we saw people bungee jumping every few minutes. Heard it costs around 4000 HKD to jump off this tower. Jump, if you have the money :)

 These are small wishing lanterns at the Mazu Temple in Macau. I think they are selling these for 20-30 HKD apiece.

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