Work travel: not as glamorous as it seems?

As I travel around Ireland, the UK and beyond launching my book and speaking in various universities, churches, and bookstores (see this page for more info), my mind wanders to travelling for work.

I remember the first hotel I got to stay in on work expenses away from home.  What an excitement as a young graduate, to be chosen for this project.  Everyone asked where I was away to, and I told many people of the adventure of the project.  But when I got there, expectation didn’t meet reality.  The fun of staying in hotels on company expenses, isn’t as glamorous as it may seem, particularly if you don’t have time to explore a new place after working hours or with additional days to your trip, or if, like me, you’re often on your own for such trips.

But for those of you like me who are often on the road for work, the Headington Institute have produced an interesting piece of research and free document (which leads on to persuading you to do their online course) on stress and travel, with some questions to help you think of how you can live in a healthier way, as you travel.

I’ve found it useful to read through, as well as some of their other free resources online.  It comes with the disclaimer that I know nothing about who they are at all!

Here’s a few snippets:

For humanitarian workers, traveling can be exhilarating and enriching. However, frequent travel can also be stressful. Some of the most common reasons for this stress include:

1. The cumulative impact of constant change: Experiencing constant change in your work routine, living environment, and professional and social networks, can be stimulating, but it can also be exhausting.  While many humanitarian workers thrive on novelty and challenge, constant change is stressful and will eventually take a toll if efforts are not made to compensate.

2. The dynamics of traveling: Traveling is tiring even if you’re not battling crowded airports, long flights, cross-cultural differences, and the difficulties of crossing multiple time zones. Packing and getting organized to be away, being in unfamiliar environments, and playing catch-up when you get back, all take extra attention and energy.

3. Dramatic changes in purpose, intensity, and “status”: “On the field” humanitarian workers can get used to being different, being noticed, dealing with intense and life-changing issues, and making important decisions. “At home” they are usually not a “special” person, living in a special place, doing special work. In comparison to the intensity and purpose that can be associated with life on the road, life at home can come to seem mundane and less meaningful.

4. Personal changes that occur in you as a result of the work: Humanitarian work impacts your attitudes and values. Even a short-term mission will result in some change. Some of these changes are permanent- being exposed to different ways of thinking and doing things can alter your perspective for good.
Often, however, people at home have not changed the same way you have. The more you are away from home, the more likely your attitudes and values are to change, and the more likely you are to feel like you no longer belong where you once did.

5. Difficulty maintaining important personal relationships: What you have experienced, the ways in which you may have changed, and the important events you have missed in other people’s lives – these can all combine to make it more difficult to relate to people back home after you have been away.

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Shortly before being pursued by a gunman.  You can read the story in my book “Travel: in tandem with God’s Heart”.  One of my more stressful encounters!

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Getting used to different cultural ways of dealing with problems can be stressful!  No room on the boat?  Don’t worry, we’ll find room for your car!

3 thoughts on “Work travel: not as glamorous as it seems?

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