Business flights. Fancy hotels. Room service.
This week I got my first taste of business travel. In and out in 4 days, I saw the best of Manila (the people) and the worst (the traffic) but I must admit, I left feeling unfulfilled like I’d barely seen anything at all. If I sit and think about it, I saw the airport, my hotel, the office, the hotel gym, my friend’s offices and the shopping mall next to the hotel…which, lets be honest, is a bit sad really.
In the past, I’ve had a fairly relaxed style of travelling. I’m not the type to rock up to a city with an itinerary set in stone of places to visit and things to see. Instead, my method goes something more along the lines of;
“Arrive, find a local bar, ask local people for recommendations, follow said recommendations”
This trip has taught me that if I want to maximise on future travel, I’m going to need to pull a bit more of my work-self into my personal life and get organised. I’ll be needing that itinerary – god only knows, by the end of the year I’ll probably be planning my travel in excel and producing summary powerpoints at the end of each trip.
I’m not the kind to judge success based on what class you fly in or assume happiness when I see platinum AMEX cards slapped down on top of restaurant bills – but there is something pretty cool about jetting around the world in the name of business.
As one would expect, there is a dramatic distinction between personal travel and work-related travel which, I’ll freely admit, I don’t think I was quite ready for. In spite of the flashy instagram feed and enviable membership to various frequent flyer and hotel clubs, I’m not being flown around the world just for the fun of it but to fulfil a purpose. After landing in Manila at 10am, I was in the office by lunch. Despite landing back in the UK at 5am and getting home at 7am, I was on work calls just a couple of hours later.
As my friend aptly put it “you’re there to make shit happen. If they thought someone local could do the job, they’d be doing it”. There was work to be done in Manila- lots and lots of work.
But I loved it. Every second of it. The hours were long, the traffic exasperating and the heat exhausting but it was awesome.
When I said this to the older gentleman sat next to me in the lounge, he simply laughed and told me that my age was showing. Maybe he’s right, maybe I am just young and that the novelty has yet to wear off but for now I have no complaints.
I will happily, willingly trade my evenings and early mornings (and even occasional weekends) for the opportunity to travel, to learn, to grow my career and to meet new people all around the world.
It seems like a pretty damn good investment to me.