stan1 wrote:...You also want to understand the ground rules. What days will you fly? Leaving Monday and returning Thursday or Friday is very different than leaving Sunday and returning Saturday. Returning every Friday to spend the weekend at home is very different than spending two weekends away from your family every month. If the travel became international two trips per month would mean essentially losing every weekend (due to travel time and recovery). Staying at a Motel 6 is very different than staying at a Ritz Carlton. Air travel is easier when you have a high level of frequent flier status (upgrades, early boarding, lounge access). You get a few benefits at 25K, more at 50K, but often you need close to 100K miles per year to get first class upgrades on a regular basis. Some companies let you use the same carrier -- but others require that you fly on the lowest available fare which might mean you don't have enough status on any one airline to get the perks. Are there social obligations (such as frequent client entertaining)? Some people enjoy this aspect -- others do not. How does your employer reimburse your per diem expenses? My employer pays a fixed daily rate for meals. If I spend more its out of pocket; if I spend less its money into my investing accounts.
Does your employer expect you to work 12-16 hours per day while on travel? Some do.
No matter where you stay you need to make sure you keep up a healthy routine (exercise, avoid overeating, watching stress levels, avoiding too much alcohol). If your company and coworkers expect you to transact business at bars and steakhouses every night that can get really old -- even if you have an expense account.
At first it is fun. After some time, you really start to resent the time away. Monday morning at most airports is terrible - very long lines, etc. unless your flight is before 6:30 am, which there are few of, and that means leaving your house at 3:30 or 4 am and if you are going to the west coast, by 9 pm their time you will have been up 21+ hours. If you are expected to entertain clients, this is exhausting. It takes a toll.
If you return Thursday evening, and get Friday off, it is probably doable. If you don't return until 11 pm Friday, it is exhausting - you need to go grocery shopping, pay the bills, get the mail, do the laundry, etc. all of which you could normally do weeknights.
Also, alot depends upon the work. Do you have client meetings all day, take clients to dinner, then go back to the hotel and work until 2 am to produce documents they expect for the next day's meetings, or is the work 9-5? If you are allowed to take off and explore in the cities you are in, it might not be so bad. If you are expected to spend every waking moment with clients and the co workers from the local office and other project team members to "make the most of the trip," it is exhausting. Will you need to return to your home office and work on Friday, which may go into Saturday because you were on the road all week, and for some jobs it is just much more efficient to get things done at a desk in your office with all your resources.
You will get airline miles, hotel points, and other perks. If it involves client entertaining, and you are expected to throw your employers money around, beware this can affect bogleheadish ways. You may develop a liking for the finer things. Unfortunately, years of traveling for work pulled my minimum standard for hotels up quite a few notches, and it has never recovered. Fortunately, I can afford it. When you stop traveling for work, and you lose all the perks, you will hate travel even more than when you were still doing it for work and were burned out.
However, it is not all bad. You often avoid a great deal of office politics. You make alot of contacts around the country. You learn how to pack very lightly.