Saturday, September 14, 2013

Advice Needed: Work Travel?

We are in the midst of sifting through a job offer D received yesterday from a company out west. 

After telling them I wasn't sold on my own career opportunities enough to want to move, they are willing to have him do this job from our home province. 

Here's the caveat:  If we had committed to moving, the amount of work travel would max out at around 50%.  Being located out of province, it jumps to a max of 75%. 

That seems awfully high to me.  Having no experience with significant work travel myself (neither does D), just leisure, and from hearing friends describe it, it often sounds not near as fun or glamorous than it may appear.   

If anyone has any insight into travelling for work, I'm all ears. 

Pay wise, it will make up for having to give up a pension.  Benefits and bonus structure are fairly parallel. 

Quickly looking into flight options for the various locales he would be travelling to (Canada & US mostly), the best he would be able to do for getting home is a midnight landing, followed by a 1 1/2 - 2 hour drive home.  Otherwise it would mean staying an extra night and landing at 6:30 am plus the drive. 

Travelling is part of the nature of that position and isn't something that will go away. 

I can't help thinking of the impact on our marriage and on the over all balance of our life.

It is a niche industry and would be what D considers a very smart career move as it would be something that would literally mean he won't have to worry about not being able to find a job, contract or full time in the future.  It would open doors to working overseas.

Would that be worth the price to pay?  You'd better believe I'd be worried about his drive in the winter time.  And I'd probably be staying up to track his flights.  We do that now for each other.

I guess I'm well suited to having a husband who travels since I'm pretty independent.  But is that really the point?

Lots of thinking out loud going on around here.


  1. What if he tried it out...took the job....made some connections and the two of you evaluated how it felt after 4-6 months. Sometimes thinking about something can make it seem too big but the actual experience is never as bad as what we envisioned.

    You will know after 6 months and by then he will have established some great contacts to further other possible roles in his industry if this turns out not to be the right one.

    1. It's a full time, full on senior position. So it will be an "all in" type of commitment. He would be giving up a slightly less senior position and a defined benefit pension. So there really isn't an easy going back either.

      We've reached out to friends and colleagues who currently do 80 - 90% work travel to learn of their experiences. Funny, all these years of knowing them and until now, never considered nor noticed the ramification of such significant travel on their lives. Guess that means it must work for them. We are anxious to learn their secrets.

  2. I'm probably not the best person to ask, as my husband has always traveled a fair bit for work. We even chose to live apart for about 1.5 years so we could both advance our respective careers. Now DH travels about 50-75% of the time during busy season and maybe 40-50% during the "off" season. I didn't love it but it was ok before we had our son. Now I find it very challenging when he's away for more than a couple of days (and we're expecting our second child in the new year, which I suspect will only make things more challenging). What ended up happening before kids was that I designed my life to do all my outside socializing/activities the weeks he was gone (i.e., meet friends for dinner/coffee/exercise) and spend time with him when he was home. I cooked the food I liked and he didn't when he was gone, and made the bet of it. We spoke every night on the phone (same as when we lived apart) and in some ways, this is more intensive communication than couples sometimes have living in the same house, as they don't make a point of it. It's definitely not for everyone, but you can make it work. Facetime/Skype also helps a lot. If it's sheer misery, after a year or something could you reconsider the move to cut down on the travel? When we lived apart, we thought we'd do 2 years and then I'd try to find something where he was, but after a year, we were both very "done" and he started seeking something where I was (in grad school, couldn't leave before completing my MA and was way easier to stay there to complete PhD). I guess I can only speak as the one at home, not the traveler, but I hope that's a bit helpful. Good luck making this tough decision.

    1. Are you kidding?! Your feedback has been super helpful! I want to hear about how things are from the "at home" side -- Thank you so much for sharing. The two of you have kept on purpose through a lot of changes. That's very admirable. And have navigated life in a pragmatic way. It isn't always easy to keep eyes on the prize. With those experiences and relationship tools, I know you'll find a new balance that will make sense when you welcome your second baby into the world. Best wishes to the both of you in the coming year!

    2. Forgot to answer your question: If I was ready to retire, then I would consider moving to cut down the amount of D's travel. Him taking this salary position won't make up enough of my income to make me comfortable not being his "back up" for another couple of years. The only way he can do that is to take a contract position. It's available. I just don't want to quit yet.

    3. Glad it was helpful :) I know it's not for everyone, but I think you two seem like a similarly pragmatic and committed couple, so it seems that you could make it work if you wanted to (that's a key part though-do you want to?) Thanks for the kind wishes-I know we'll figure things out when our Peanut arrives, it's just a different phase of life. When I start to feel sorry for myself when he's gone a lot, (it does wear thin now and again) I remind myself that my husband is working away, but he's safe and I know when he's coming back, unlike many military families. Social comparison is good sometimes :) Best of luck with your decision.

    4. Thanks for the vote of confidence! You hit the nail on the head there when you said "do you want to?". That really is the big question for us individually and as a couple. Will your husband be able to take time off from his travelling when your baby arrives?