My job doesn’t usually involve travel. If I didn’t volunteer for these out of town assignments, I’d be able to stay home and work my normal schedule. However, I can’t pass up the chance to act as a mentor and share my years of experience to new people with the company. The fact that my employer is willing to fly me around the country, pay for my hotel, meals and transportation expenses is just a bonus. I also get to find out what it would be like if I had a job where I was required to be on the road.
My first trip was for one week and I worked almost non-stop the whole time I was away. I’m not a spring chicken and a 75 hour week surrounded by two travel days was enough for me. Here are five of the things I learned from that experience.
This time there was the opportunity for a two-week assignment in Brooklyn, NY. The work schedule was more favorable, requiring me to only work a 40 hour week. After getting approval from Sharon, I applied for it and was accepted.
Then the realization that I was going to be away from home for two weeks began to set in. What did I sign myself up for?
JFK Airport is nowhere near Manhattan
I knew this one already, from when we’ve flown into JFK. However, I was put up (by work) in a hotel near JFK and if I wanted to spend my day off in Manhattan, it was at least a 45 to 60-minute ride by bus, train, subway or Lyft in each direction. I made this trip several times during my days off because there’s not really much to do at JFK. Honestly, there’s nothing to do near JFK.
Hotel bars and restaurants are the last resort (and they know it)
Several nights of our stay, we got out of work late and didn’t get back to the hotel until after 10PM. Going out to eat was not an option and delivery would take too long so we ended up eating at the lobby restaurant. Let me say that I’m willing to eat an $18 burger if it’s worth it. This burger definitely wasn’t worth it. Neither was the $15 bruschetta or the $12 French Onion soup.
These places exist to feed the likes of us. You know, people who are forced to eat there because of work and are on an expense account so it doesn’t matter if the food is bland and overpriced. The only other people eating there were those who were staying for an early morning flight and had no transportation to get anywhere else.
All of my meals outside the hotel were memorable. None of the hotel meals were. The only memorable thing was the round of Lemon Drop shots we ordered one night that cost $14 each because the bar policy is to use Grey Goose unless you specify otherwise.
Hotel breakfasts change from day to day and some days are better than others
I never thought I’d become a connoisseur of the Hampton Inn hotel breakfast but after two weeks of rotating through the selections, I developed my favorites. The egg white frittata was light and flavorful and the applewood smoked chicken sausage had the right amount of smoke and sweet. The prime rib hash was good but had me thinking I was eating the Hilton’s restaurant leftovers from the night before (Note from Sharon: of course you were!).
I tried the make your own waffle station one morning but the waffle was all crust and no inside so it lost its heat immediately and didn’t even melt the butter I put on it. Between that and the artificial maple-flavored syrup, I skipped them for the rest of the stay.
I did see something I never experienced before. A guest removed an English muffin from the case and put it in the toaster without splitting it in half first, like a psychopath.
The breakfast bagels need to go because as one of my co-workers put it, “I’m not a poor college student anymore, so don’t feel me pizza bagels and call it breakfast.” (Note from Sharon: I tasted these when I came to visit. They were NASTY!)
I don’t need housekeeping every day
After the first few days, I discovered that I didn’t need housekeeping services every day. Now I knew this because we don’t get any housekeeping services when we stay at a Candlewood Suites for four nights but I still let housekeeping into the room every day for most of the first week. At that point, I realized I could straighten my own bed, hang my towel on the hook to dry and rinse my own glasses for the next day (Note from Sharon: Dude, people are gonna start thinking you don’t do this at home on a regular basis).
Since I was in New York, I refilled my water bottles with tap water and put them into the fridge to get cold for the evening because NYC tap water is better than most bottled water.
Two weeks is a long time to be away from home
While my time in NY went by quickly because I was busy all of the time either at work or sightseeing, this was still a long time to be away from home. I made myself as comfortable as possible in my hotel room but it wasn’t home. After a while, I just wanted to be home with Sharon and Dobby, our toy poodle, sleeping in my own bed.
I understand why people love hotel promotions
Before the stay, I wrote about why I was excited about the current Hilton promotion. When I got home and updated AwardWallet, I was even more excited.
I earned 91,980 Hilton points for my stay. That’s more than enough for a free night at the Casa Marina Waldorf Astoria in Key West.
I don’t want to work on the road
I know now, more than ever, that my life is at home. I like to work at my desk (the same one I’ve had since I was 12) while sitting in my office chair with my dog in my lap occasionally turning around to bother Sharon while she’s working (Note from Sharon: true story. #rolleyes). It’s just not the same to send her a text. After a while, Sharon couldn’t even say my name in the house while I was gone because our dog would go to the door and wait for me to come home.
More than ever, I respect those of you who live on the road. It’s a life that, once upon a time, I dreamed about having. But now that I realize all of the things it entails, I’m more than happy to stay at home and just travel for vacations. There’s more for me at home than there is on the road.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary