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If you travel overseas for business, what type of work do you do?

If you travel overseas for business, what type of work do you do?

Jun 5th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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mvor is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 07:17 PM
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I travelled when I worked in technical support, and I hated it. Business travel has nothing in common with travel for pleasure except that it involves planes and hotels. I never considered travel a perk, and in fact I made it very clear that if anyone else wanted to go in my place, or if there was any option to refuse the trip, management could take for granted that I did not want to go, no matter what the destination.

Travel for pleasure is tiresome enough—you always spend more time and effort on logistics than you do on actually enjoying the destination. Business travel is a hundred times worse. Today the need for travel is a showstopper for me in business: if the job requires travel, I'm not interested.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 07:40 PM
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I run a publishing and translation company, and I sometimes have to travel overseas to conferences or meetings or whatever, but mostly my business travel is here in the USA.

I HATE business travel. I agree with AnthonyGA. It's grueling and tiresome, and there's this whole hotel social mystique with undercurrents of illicit entanglements and stuff that I'm not into at all that just turns me off. I'm a good solo traveler, but I really don't like overseas business travel one whit.

Going to my house in France or on other adventures in Europe is a whole other kettle of fish. I love that. Business? I'd rather conduct it all over the internet, thank you, than have to hassle with arrangements to get to a foreign city, stay in a hotel, and attend meetings.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 5th, 2006, 08:33 PM
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My husband was a researcher and professor at a med school before his early retirement last year. He's still a consultant at the university and will likely get some more invitations to speak at int'l conferences. But those will gradually taper off and all our travel will be on our own dime, dang it.

Others have mentioned the value of being at the top of a particular specialty for being in demand at meetings, etc. I'd go a bit further and say that the more narrow one's speciality is, the more easily one can acquire an international reputation. (I don't intend that to sound insulting, but I'll skip showing this post to my husband.)

When he travels anywhere interesting for work, I almost always go along. And we almost always add personal time to our stay.

I worked before we married, and traveled for work (always in the US), and usually added personal time. Only the personal time was enjoyable--like others, I can say that travel for work was not enjoyable. StCirq put it well: "grueling and tiresome."

smalti is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 09:59 PM
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I am electronic engineering, working in automation and computers. As our clients are all over the world, I travel frequent for startup, installation, training the people who will use our equipment. In general I have to travel for more than 10 days, sometimes 2 or three weeks. I always travel alone in the business trips. I use every minute of two free days in weekends to visit as much as I can. I have to do this and to visit the places where I travel, because, being solo, another alternative is to spend the weekend alone in the hotel...! I prepare these visits as I prepare my vacations with my husband, so I know exactly what I want to see, hours, directions, etc.

So, if I have a business trip of two weeks, the maximum time that I can use for visits is 4 days. Being solo, I am not very happy with this, but I try to enjoy visiting interesting and beautiful places.

Many times, in the vacation with my family, I like to show them the places where I was before, I am feeling then like a guide!
valtor is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 09:32 AM
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rex is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 10:00 AM
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I'm a software developer working for a company with offices in London, Oslo, Paris, Cairo, etc. If you live in the US and love to visit Europe try to work for an international company whose headquarters is NOT in the US. Also, look for a company that makes a practice of moving people around. That will greatly increase the chances of overseas travel.
Dlemma is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 10:18 AM
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I'm a clothing designer and dressmaker, and lucky to have a few clients in Europe. I have body-double dressforms so I can do most work in studio, but I prefer doing final fittings in person. Oh yes. And while in the city, I shop for fabrics and accessories, check museum exhibits and observe entertainment and street trends. For me, business travel is pleasure.
Fidel is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 10:31 AM
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Thank you everyone for your feedback. It's been really interesting reading about everyone's background.

I used to travel about 15 years ago to do trade shows when I was in systems/engineering but, I never got to go anyplace "good" ....if you know what I mean. In my mind I think it would have been a lot more enjoyable if my destination was Paris, Rome intead of Buffalo or Las Vegas.

I know not every business trip can involve personal travel being tacked on but, I'd like to believe that at least a few trips could result in a combination!
Squeak is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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My husband works in the electric utility industry. He is often an invited speaker at conferences or attends conferences in europe. It makes travel planning a challenge. I never get to say "Oh, wouldn't it be nice to visit France next summer?" Instead it's "Honey, how would you like to go to so and so with me?" Then I go into action making the vacation plans. I do all the planning - Airplanes, cars, hotels. I usually end up spending a few days on my own while he works.

The upside is that I never ever in my wildest dreams thought I would ever get to vacation in Europe and now we have been many times and the company pays for his airfare, hotels while working. And oh, my son is a pilot . We have had a little trouble with him showing up on our vacations. lol
Ronda is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 11:10 AM
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Squeak, one thing to add about work-related travel: at certain points in your life it can be very enjoyable, but it can also be very difficult to balance work travel and family needs.

I worked as an executive in the Canadian government and travelled extensively over my entire career. In fact, during my last five years, I spent two out of every three weeks in another city. I missed a great deal of day-to-day life with my wife and daughter, and I regret that.

On the up side, I did get to see most of the country and I did accumulate a frequent flyer point or two.

But you asked about overseas travel. The only business trip I ever made outside Canada was to Flint Michigan, which on close inspection proved to be unlike Paris, lol. It was actually unlike anything I could have imagined. Couldn't even find Michael Moore.

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 11:29 AM
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My dad worked for HP for many years, teaching seminars (week-long jobs) all over the country and the world. Occasionally he extended his stay for some personal time, but not often.

He just retired last September, and is enjoying not having to travel for a while (he would be traveling about 1-2 weeks every month.)
GreenDragon is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 11:57 AM
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I just remembered the one truly great "business travel" experience I had. I was a senior in college and was working on my thesis on the cross-cultural parallels of Art Nouveau in Norway, France and Spain. On a whim I applied to an international conference in Hawaii and I got in as a presenter. The University was so happy that they paid for the whole thing (ticket, lodging, food, conference fees, etc). Of course, once in Honolulu I didn't want to leave so I made the executive decision to change the ticket and extend the stay post-conference.

During the conference I saw the inside of the hotel, lots of presentations, the buffet table. . . there was a conference luau one night, but that was as far as the cultural entertainment went. And as far as illicit entanglements, well, let's just say that academics who spend their days in classrooms filled with females aged 17-22 have no qualms about being entirely inappropriate off campus.

Once the conference was over, I had 10 days (missing a week of school) to do whatever I wanted and that was awesome. So, if you can extend your ticket then more power to you, but if not, it is not so much travel as it is going somewhere.
laclaire is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 01:29 PM
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As many people have mentioned, business travel is rarely as exciting as it sounds. IF you can add some additional days (or weeks) to a trip, and bring along family, business travel is great. But most of the time it is just a big rush - by yourself. If you really love travel, I suggest finding yourself a job that offers a good amount of vacation time. That way you can really enjoy your travels.
saltymuffin is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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I traveled throughout western Europe before I retired from the banking business. My calls were on other banks, insurance companies, investment advisors, and financial writers. At first and since I was breaking new territory, I was greeted with cool suspicion. After about the third or fourth call on institutions and individuals, the ice began to crack and break. It took a lot of patience, good humor, and persistence. Would I do it all again? Maybe, but then I would have to be much younger. Fat chance.
USNR is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 04:06 AM
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I've had five, on paper very different, jobs that involved extensive foreign travel or residence.

It doesn't really matter what they've been, since only one had "foreign travel" in the job description. What all the jobs shared was:

- By and large, I decided on the amount of travel needed myself - in every case, doing a different amount of travelling from peers or competitors. Unless you're doing a job where you have little input into what needs to be done (and who on earth wants a job like that?), you and the vicissitudes of the market you operate in, set the travel agenda, not the job description.

- they were all jobs where I (in the light of what the market and the organisation were doing) set my agenda. I enjoyed the travel: I'd have walked over glass to get a non-travelling job if I hadn't been able to set my own agenda. Travel, in other words, should be a lot lower in your priorities than real job satisfaction and the sense you're making a difference.

- all my business travelling experience was similar to most of the experience above. If you're using your time properly, you haven't got time to go gallivanting round the local safari park. And at the end of it, you really, really, want to be tucked up in your own bed.

- but most business travel (or at any rate most of mine) exposes you to swathes of the society you're visiting that tourists don't see. You decide whether to spend the evenings watching your home football matches on BBC World, or discussing stock loss with the local area manager. And whether you spend it on stock loss, driving the local strip malls or visiting a supplier's night shift, you'll learn a great deal more about the country than going round the local second-division museum. However, using your time properly gets you to tourist sites you'd otherwise miss. I thought I'd seen enough of the Parthenon for a lifetime until I realised it was snowing one Saturday morning in mid-winter, and I just had time to give it 45 minutes on the way to the airport.

- In practice, conventional tourism is something you fit into your ordinary hoiday plans

- It's important to work in an organisation where foreign travel is seen to be useful. In many US companies, time spent outside the US is time wasted. In others, even if the CEO and the Board of Directors don't think that, everyone round the watercooler does. You can decry this (though it's probably rational) - but if, whatever they say in interviews, it's clear that being sales manager in Peoria carries more career kudos than being country manager in Japan, you might conclude that time overseas will cost you dear in lost opportunities.

- using your holidays to advantage always helps. My reputation in one company was made for a decade because I used a holiday in the US to spend time with the local sales force, and brought back one idea from a New York supermarket we then brazenly stole, adapted and turned into a serious corporate diffentiator. The time with the sales force taught me nothing: the interrogation I submitted the supermarket manager to gave us a wealth of insight into the idea our competitors had all missed.

- Joining a big company is no guarantee. America's largest company by sales has limited foreign experience in its executive suite, and has recently had to hire an English outsider to run its German operations. But some big companies (like Citibank and Ford) do reward foreign experience.

Living in a medium-sized country where businesses go bust if they don't think global, my experience may not be altogether appropriate to you. But you do the travelling you want to, generally speaking. Whatever your speciality, keeping your eyes and ears open and reading a wide range of trade press, you'll inevitably find overseas opportunities - ones you might even want to investigate at your own expense and in your own time.

The trick, above all, is to make sure your organisation appreciates the value of your overseas endeavours. And it's you, not the job description, that determines that.
CotswoldScouser is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 04:34 AM
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Unlike the other posters above, I LOVE my business-related travel and invariably have a great time.

For example, in March this year, I spent two weeks in Vienna, one week of which was business. I usually pack a leisure trip in before of after the business portion (preferably both if I can swing it as I did this year), which gives me ample time to get over jet lag, see the sights, do some shopping, etc.

However, even the biz part is entertaining for me. This year, in Vienna, I did radio interviews and wrote radio scripts for a medical convention. The reporters I worked with were funny and sharp and came from several countries...Germany, Italy, the UK and the people we interviewed came from all over Europe (and some from the U.S., too). The topics were interesting and varied. We even picked up some groupies...radio phreaks who were walking near the convention site, picked up our broadcasts and came in to see what we were doing. At night, we went out as a gang to some of Vienna's better restaurants and kicked back good food and wine. Our work ended with a champagne "thank you" reception and an amusing video compilation of the previous week.

I also do media relations for an Italian company and again, they are great people to work with and in addition to "regular" work, they are very big into sponsoring art exhibits, cultural events, etc. So "work" with them partly consists of going to private concerts at places like Musikverein and the like (one year, we hosted a private party at the House of Blues in Chicago with performances by Jim Belushi and Dan Ackroyd as well as a terrific warmup group). And they are not cheeseparers when it comes to international travel, which means flying business (or better), staying in 4 star hotels (minimum) and dining at good restaurants.

I've also worked as a healthcare reporter (and still do) and since I generally like my colleagues--even from competing publications--it's always a pleasure to see them again. We trade family news, industry gossip etc.

So when it comes to business travel, you'll hear no complaints from me!
BTilke is offline  
Jun 24th, 2006, 11:18 PM
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Hi Squeak, I started as a freelance consultant for publishing and printing industries six years ago. Prior to that I was with US multinational publishers and was always in North America and Asia attending conferences and global strategy meetings. Now I consult for my ex-employers and write international reports for a trade magazine. Got to love traveling solo in my kind of job. And I do. Opportunist is my other name: I piggyback my own vacation to most biz trips. Since the biz travels give me lots of mileage as well as points with major hotel chains, I usually redeem tickets and rooms. Need lots of juggling to keep sane though. Often I find myself staying late into the night during my own vacation to tie up loose business ends. There's really no such thing as free lunch
jbtan is offline  
Jun 25th, 2006, 03:22 AM
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I used to travel for work as an auditor for an international company about 30 weeks a year. It does get grueling, but I'm the type of person that loves meeting new people and going to new places. Of all the travel, I most loved the international travel.

The best thing about business travel is getting miles/points that you can apply towards your personal travel.

My husband travels internationally, he is an editor of an international magazine based in the UK and must attend conferences all over the world.

If you really want to travel internationally i.e. Europe, you should look for companies based in Europe. (they also tend to have nice vacation polies)
kangamom is offline  
Jun 25th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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I would like to talk to you about teaching at International schools. Please email me at [email protected]
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