Another crazy international work trip… and my thoughts on work travel

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be traveling internationally for work once again.

And boy, I certainly do have a love-hate relationship with work travel!

Why work travel rocks:
– Get to know colleagues better.
– Much easier to get collaborative projects moving when in person than over VC or e-mail!
– Frequent flyer miles!
– Experience little fascinating pieces of foreign cultures and learn more about my own in the process.
– Get to see wonderful far-away friends.
– Acquire lots of photos and fun stories to tell 😀

Why work travel sucks:
– Tons to do ahead of time (in addition to “regular” job)! visa, vaccinations, presentation/interview prep, etc.
– Away from local friends; often not there when they most need me.
– Expense reports in multiple currencies (this time: seven!). Pure hell. No seriously, doing calculations with various exchange rates, credit card fees, etc… really really sucks.
– Screaming babies and loud morons in 15 hour economy flights. 
– Jetlag (seven different time zones in 30 days).
– No pause button for e-mail.
– Traveling can be lonely.

On the whole, though, I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel for work.  Unlike some of my friends who have to dress up to face frustrated clients when they travel, I typically have the pleasure of working on awesome projects with friendly and fun colleagues when I travel.  And I also am damn lucky with the cities I get to visit:  Sydney, Stockholm, Seattle, and even super cities that don’t start with ‘S’.  Granted, I suffered through crazy-freezing Stockholm and icky-damp London in the heart of winter, but still… :-D.

*  *  *

So where to this time?  Here’s where!

  • Tue Feb 17: Departing for SINGAPORE (via Hong Kong)
  • Thu Feb 18: Working with teammates in Singapore Office, doing an interview with press about Search; grabbing dinner with friends and heading to a jazz club
  • Fri Feb 19: In the Singapore office, then in the evening,flying to HYDERABAD
  • Sat-Sun   : Exploring Hyderabad (it’s my first time in India!), prepping for the week’s upcoming conferences
  • Mon Feb 22: Working on projects with Hyderabad Search Quality colleagues
  • Wed Feb 24: Flying to BANGALORE, doing interviews with press, prepping for two conferences
  • Sat Feb 28: Doing three presentations at a Search conference; in the evening, flying to CHENNAI
  • Sun Feb 29: Attending an informal Search conference in Chennai; flying to TOKYO in the evening (overnight)
  • Mon Mar 02: Working on projects with Search Quality Googlers in Tokyo
  • Sat-Sun   : Visiting KYOTO with a friend to unwind a bit
  • Mon Mar 09: Speaking at a TOKYO Google press event re: search issues
  • Tue Mar 10: Flying back to the U.S.
  • Wed-Sat   : Undoubtedly trying to get over jetlag and attempting to catch up on e-mail
  • Sun Mar 15: Flying to DUBLIN (thankfully direct this time!)
  • Mon-Wed   : Working on projects with Search Quality Googlers
  • Thu Mar 19: Flying to REYKJAVIK (via London) for a marketing conference
  • Fri Mar 20: Giving a presentation on Google and Search at the conference
  • Sat-Sun   : Exploring Iceland, then flying back to the U.S.
  • Mon Mar 23: In BOSTON, likely visiting Google’s Cambridge office; also hanging out with friends
  • Tue Mar 24: Flying HOME!

Whew!  Maybe I’ll even get around to doing a journal entry about the places I visit this time?  Though given that I still haven’t posted detailed thoughts about my time in Brazil, Mexico, China, Korea… {sigh}… writing is hard!

Anyway, if you’ve been to (or live in!) any of the places above, feel free to share your recommendations for things to see, place to eat, etc. :-D.

*  *  *

I’ll leave you with a photo of a train station from beautiful Howth, Ireland, where I spent an uncommonly sunny weekend day in between work days in Dublin last year.  Feel free to check out more of my photos of Howth :-D.






17 responses to “Another crazy international work trip… and my thoughts on work travel”

  1. Saptarshi Avatar

    Hey Adam, that’s one hell of a travel schedule and I can very well understand how difficult it might be to keep up with it.
    Hope to meet you in the Search masters 2009 conference in Bangalore on 28th but while you are at Hyderabad don’t miss out on the famous Hyderabadi Biryani ( I hope you can take the spice 😉 )

  2. Adam Avatar

    Saptarshi, thanks for the friendly hello :-D.  I am indeed looking forward to trying the Hyderabadi Biryani and much other fabulous Indian food.  I’ve heard that the spices can be a bit strong for us weak-stomach’d Americans, but I’ll do my best!

    On a different note… thanks to those of you eagle-eyed folks who spotted my typo (Feb 28 instead of Mar 1)—fixed! 😀

  3. Tina Avatar

    When I go to Boston, I like to go to Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market, and just walk around.  I know that the experts say it is “over-rated tourist trap, and they are probably right, but I like to do it anyway.  I also like to go to Filene’s basement; sometimes I find a good bargain there, but I also just like to people watch there. Also, the Bull and Finch pub is worth a short visit, just to say that you’ve been to the bar that is the exterior shot of the pub from the old “Cheers” television show.:-)

  4. Adam Avatar

    Jillian, so far this trip has indeed been very rewarding!  While I could look at the negative and whine about having very little “free time,” I have to say that even the supposedly mundane stuff—being stuck in traffic, watching TV commercials, etc—gives a fascinating glimpse into local culture.  And on another positive note, I continue to think the world of my colleagues.  Very welcoming, well-rounded, fun people :-D.

    Re: expense reports… no, despite how high tech Google is, our expensing system is (at least for now) still pretty grounded in the stone age.  The associated hassle, in the scheme of things, is a small price to pay for the wonderful opportunities I get while traveling, but it’s still something I heavily curse after every trip.  I’m sure this one will be no exception.

    On Boston… I’ve already visited the city a few times and absolutely love it (one of my fav American cities due to its walkability, history, and so on).  I’ve even checked out that “Cheers” bar in the past :-D.

    JohnT, I also think Dublin is a great city.  It’s far more diverse than I expected and—despite the anguished cries of its residents—I haven’t found the weather to be all THAT gloomy and wet (but then again, I don’t live there year ‘round). When you do have a chance to visit Dublin, make sure to ask some locals where *they* go to the pub. Forget the lame touristy ones, and take a 15-20 minute cab ride if you have to (and granted, that’s NOT cheap!).  I did this and the awesomest evening hanging with true locals (of all ages), listening to terrific foot-stomping fiddlers and singers for hours over some pints.

    Tina:  I actually lived in Boston about ten years ago for a few months, and used to guiltily enjoy Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, often for a good spot of people watching.  Haven’t hit Filene’s basement, but after my bits and pieces of shopping while abroad, I think it’ll be time to give my credit card a rest, even when faced with American bargains in the basement :-D.

  5. Adam Avatar

    BTW, here’s a photo from my trip that you might enjoy:

    Super smiley awesome schoolkids in Hyderabad

  6. Johan Ruiterdonk Avatar

    I’ts better than doing nothing ;-). But you made a great stance for the pause button for e-mail, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

  7. Alex W Avatar

    That’s one heck of a travel schedule, you must love your work, way better than a desk job that I am stuck with.

    employment opportunities

  8. Adam Avatar

    Johan, yes, a pause button in e-mail would be awesome!

    Jillian, re: the exchange rate, I’ve been trying to put as much as possible on my credit card and just expensing what I get charged.  Now that I have a no-international-fees credit card (by Schwab), it’s not only convenient, but thrifty :-D.

    and re: Beantown… I’m actually going to a dance camp outside of the city in June :-D. 

    And yep, Japan was a blast, too!

    Markcijo, thank you very much for your kind comments here and elsewhere!  As you could tell, I very much enjoyed myself in India, particularly the friendliness and hospitality of everyone I met.  And no, I didn’t end up having time to finish my lunch, but I made sure to have some snacks and a good dinner later 😀

    Alex, yes, and I’ll even forgive you for double-link-dropping.  Once 😉

    Mikefast… I learned the secret to conquering jetlag:  timing meals to your destination city.  Works like a charm (crossing fingers).

  9. Tholomew Avatar

    Hey Adam Long time no talk

    Nice to see your enjoying the Job still.
    Work travel is awesome, all my friends get jealous when I tell them that I’m going over the other side of the world for work next week.

    I get to see many different countries but it has the disadvantages of course, I don’t mind screaming kids on the planes tho, I just think to myself that I probably used to do the same.

    But that’s me I’m a chilled out person. Other people are total opposite, haha
    Im actually working on a new project now Job In Australia anyway Ill definitly hit you up soon.

  10. Cigars Avatar

    Wow, that is one serious travel schedule.  I have a lot of trouble with my sinuses and pressure if I travel a lot like that.  My ears start to hurt and I get headaches if I fly too much.  I own an online cigar shop and I have to travel about the US and cigar producing areas frequently.

    I have never been to India but I want to go. I hear they have a booming economy ahead. I want to go to Germany as well. I’d love to see where they make BMWs.

  11. Ajith Avatar

    India is really good and there are a lot of wonderful places here. Its the real Incredible India itself.

  12. Marcus Avatar

    I really do like the idea of travelling.  I’ve recently gone self-employed running an online store which sells brainwave entrainment CDs.  It’s doing quite well, and would basically allow me to travel around – so long as I have an Internet connection I would be able to work anywhere.  And I suspect opportunities for this business would crop up as I travel.

  13. Nick Avatar

    It must be hard to leave all every-time, you miss your family, your friends, you only live for your work, it’s the same for all work’s travellers, do you need more money or more time with people you like ? Good question i have no answer for it !

  14. Hellen Avatar

    This sort of work based travel certainly gives answer on how to break a habit of the daily rat-race.

  15. Lane Avatar

    The thing that is the biggest pain for me when traveling for work is making all the arrangements.  My company basically leaves all of that to us and they just pay the bill.  airfare, hotels, car rentals, restaurants…it’s a hassle.


  16. Noah Avatar

    Granted work travel can be such a drag what with trying to find your way in strange places.  Personally, I have a difficult time getting to understand my colleague’s accents when am in these foreign cities. Nothing however beats getting to know new cultures and getting new friends. An advice that could help you get around in these new cities and having fn in them is doing exactly what is expected. Something t do wt hosing your way to find your way. How about ignoring what the glossy travel magazines have to say about a country and instead exploring what else could be there. You never know you could get inspired!

  17. ThatAdamGuy Avatar

    Tholomew, welcome back, and glad you’re still having fun traveling 🙂

    Cigars, heck, I have issues with sinuses even when I don’t travel. No fun. re: India and Germany, well, go! Talk about different cultures! Both are an adventure and both countries are certainly worth a visit (as Ajith clearly agrees).

    Marcus, have you started traveling a bunch? If so, have you found that you’ve enjoyed it?

    Nick, yeah. It’s like the movie “Up in the Air.” I recently watched that… on a plane. And I cried :\.

    Lane, I don’t have an admin do any of this stuff for me, either. Then again, I’m not sure I’d be willing to give up the control; I have pretty exacting preferences re: airline, itinerary, etc.

    Noah, you’re right in so many ways. Yes, it can be difficult to understand accents (but luckily my workmates have been understanding). It is indeed awesome getting exposed to new cultures and making new friends. And most importantly, you’re right on the money re: exploring without regard to what the glossy magazines recommend (“Five Perfect Days” — blech!). Getting lost is half the fun! :p

What do you think?