Over the past 8+ years I have spoken to hundreds of EMR Professionals that want to enter the world of the traveling consultant. Most consultants in our industry will travel weekly on a Mon-Thurs or Sun-Thurs schedule with exceptions for longer stays on a client site or variable remote work.
When discussing the nature of weekly travel to a "newbie" I have learned to play devil's advocate. The first person I ever interviewed when I entered into this Industry had never traveled before. He assured me that he "LOVED" to travel and was totally "psyched" about the opportunity. Six months into his engagement he called me to resign, said he couldn't take the weekly travel any longer.
Recently I discussed the rigors of weekly travel with some seasoned road warriors. Below are results of the Q & A from those discussions:
What made you decide to start traveling for work? Most Frequent Responses: Higher Income. New Surroundings and co-workers with each new engagement. Enjoy travel & seeing new locations.
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make when you transitioned into
traveling weekly for work? Most Frequent Responses: Being away from family(pets). Missing out on family or other functions (weekly bowling or child's plays etc) and having to leave spouse to do all the work. Navigating the airports, luggage, flight delays, airport security etc.
What do you wish all consulting/staffing firms offered that would make your
travel life easier for you?
This question received the most diverse answers, some of the most frequent responses were: Corporate Credit Card for travel, better discounts on hotel, car, flights etc. Occasionally paying for spouse to travel, like over the holiday work weeks etc., better assistance for new travelers, even something simple like a handbook with traveling suggestions.
What did you have to give up when you started traveling weekly? The number one answer was time with family and friends, some other responses were: freedom to join sports leagues or meet friends for dinner once a week during the week, and for single folks: having a pet, being home during bad weather (someone had a water-main break in sub zero temps and didn't realize until they got home days later) and being in one place so it's easier to start a romantic relationship.
What did you gain from becoming a traveling consultant? Some of the top answers for this question were: better income, seeing out of town family & relatives more, greater independence, being able to travel to new places, less stress, meeting new people, and quiet time at the hotel in the evenings.
Here are a list of tips from the road warriors:
1. Pack Light! Learn to pack everything you need for the week into a carry-on bag.
2. When traveling coast to coast, find extended stay hotels and if you travel home, leave most of your belongings at the hotel during your absence.
3. You can bring your pet, just check for local pet friendly hotels.
4. Always have an extra charger (computer, phone, iPod etc) handy.
5. Make sure your ID, discount cards, credit cards etc are kept in the same place, are always handy and are in a front pocket for safe keeping.
6. Keep a folder or file or zippered pouch for all your travel receipts so they're easy to locate at the end of the week for the purpose of scanning and emailing or mailing to your employer. (if you're 1099, for tax purposes)
7. Set up a calendar alert to remind you to log your time & file your expense receipts each week.
8. Know the name and number to your employers IT Helpdesk in case you have problems with your company issued lap top.
9. Whenever possible do not wear a belt, difficult to remove shoes, hair pins, excessive jewelry, etc so that you can move through airport security quickly. Make sure your laptop is housed in a safe but easy to manipulate bag, keep your pockets empty etc.
10. If you are single and live alone, make sure you have a neighbor or relative that can check on your place of residence in your absence.
11. Provide neighbors and relatives the name and number of your hotel, along with your cell phone so they can easily contact you in case of an emergency.
12. Have the number of your direct boss, a company co-worker and your direct report at the client hospital programmed into your cell phone, that way if your flight is delayed you will be able to alert people of your delay.
If you're a seasoned traveler and you have other important tips I've missed, please feel free to add a comment below!
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