Top jobs that involve heavy business travel
If you love travelling, chances are, you’ve dreamed about having the kind of career that would keep you constantly in trains, planes or automobiles.
While that sort of career brings to mind obvious choices, like flight attendants or airline pilots, there are plenty of other jobs outside of the travel industry that might appeal to the nomad inside you.
Before you start sending out your resumes or CVs, be certain you know what you’re getting into — while the frequent travelling lifestyle may sound glamorous, jobs that require heavy business travel have a downside too: difficulty maintaining personal relationships and sleep routines to name a few . Here are a few business travel-heavy careers (pros and cons included) to consider:
Management consultants work for firms that advise other companies how to run their businesses more efficiently. Most don’t have offices of their own; they work at the client’s site, which could be across town or across the globe. Life as a consultant is rarely boring — you are constantly meeting and interacting with new people, seeing new places and then moving on to the next job. The position typically requires flying out every Sunday night or Monday morning, checking into a hotel near the client site for the week and then flying home on Thursday or Friday. Or, if your client has multiple locations, you could be flying midweek, too. It’s one of those jobs where you might wake up in the middle of the night and wonder… “Am I in Toledo, Spain, or Toledo, Ohio?” It’s a great way to rack up frequent flyer and hotel points, but it’s tough to maintain a life back home. (To get an idea of what I mean, see the film Up in the Air, which chronicles the high-flying, but difficult life of consultant Ryan Bingham.)
Event managers plan and stage large corporate events for their own companies, or they work for management companies that contract with larger firms to organize their meetings or events. Since everyone loves a party, event management is a feel-good position with a lot of fringe benefits, like hotel room upgrades, schmooze fests with bands or entertainers, food tastings, high-profile party invites, etc. The position typically requires frequent travel to scout out event locations, hotels, restaurants and ground transportation. Once the site is chosen, event managers return frequently to check on progress and then to manage the actual event, which involves very long, high-pressure days ensuring everything is going as planned. If something goes wrong, the manager takes the blame. Also, frequent exposure to all that food and drink can lead to a bulging waistline.
Public accountants or auditors
Accountants and auditors are like consultants — they typically travel to client sites to investigate, analyze and prepare corporate financial statements, ensure that taxes are paid or verify internal controls monitoring waste, fraud or mismanagement. The upside to this type of job is it pays well, and clients typically cover business class air travel, car services and deluxe hotels — which means even more loyalty points. On the downside, work hours can be excruciatingly long, which means you could be in an exciting location like Madrid or Miami, but spend all your time in an office building.
Public or media relations
A public relations job, especially in the travel industry or for travel industry clients, requires frequent travel to client sites for meetings (like consultants do), plus planning and hosting media on familiarization trips (like event planners do). Public relations professionals either work for big brands, or for agencies that handle a brand’s media relations, so you could be a rep for a single airline or hotel chain, or be the rep for 10 different independent hotels. This type of job can be fun, even glamorous, but you’ll likely fly in economy class and be housed in the cheapest room in the hotel, while your media guests stay in suites. There’s also plenty of stress involved in dealing with sometimes finicky or demanding writers, and ensuring positive coverage of your company or client’s brand in the media.
Regional sales representative
In this job, the size of your region determines the extent of your travel. For example, a pharmaceutical rep based in Chicago who calls on doctors in the midwestern United States will likely spend most weeks driving pre-set routes from town to town, visiting clinics, offices and hospitals and spending the night at roadside hotels. But a sales rep for a large manufacturing company based in Switzerland could have a territory as large as Europe, the Middle East and Africa, requiring frequent air travel as far away as Dubai, Durban or Dublin. The upside of these sales jobs is that reps typically have budgets to entertain clients, so much of your time on the road is spent wining and dining at high-end spots. On the downside, sales jobs usually come with plenty of pressure to perform by filling quotas, which can be stressful.
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Chris McGinnis is the business travel columnist for BBC Travel