our non-traveling employees are upset about the travel “perks” that others get

A reader writes:

I recently started at a new software development and training office, and I work in a primarily administrative capacity. One of my tasks is to book flights. My boss instructed me that if someone wanted to extend work travel by a few days, I should go ahead and do that for them, so long as they picked up any additional expenses. (For instance, if someone flown out for a three-day meeting at the end of the week wanted to stay to attend a baseball game on the weekend, I should allow them to request their flight back be on the Sunday or Monday so they could attend the game.) This has negligible cost for the company, since in most cases the flights are comparably expensive and usually the employee covers their own hotel room for the extra days. (Once in a blue moon, our volume discounts on hotel rooms meant that we can cover the hotel room, too. This isn’t a guaranteed thing, but when it comes up, we offer it.)

We’re evenhanded with this policy across all employees who travel. I’d say it gets taken up 2-3 times a year per employee, and usually not in a way that impacts PTO (the employee takes the wekeend off and then is back at work on the next Monday), or the travel is attached to a vacation (someone travels for a weeklong work trip to an exciting location–think New York or D.C.–and then arranged for the company-paid-for return trip to be another week later, so that they can spend a week in the city. All of this is cleared through their own managers, and my boss also has no issue with it, as its financial impact is low (in fact, sometimes the longer span makes the tickets cheaper).

So what’s the problem? In short, the non-flying-employees feel that there is a significant and attractive perk to which they don’t have access. And this is more or less true: while everyone who flies with company business has a chance to take advantage of flying in a bit early or late (so long as they pay their own hotel for the difference), people who don’t fly at all obviously can’t do that. It’s caused some grumbling and some snideness.

Perhaps complicating the problem further, there isn’t a clear hierarchy of the breakdown. Sales people obviously travel the most, but on-site trainers for the product fly second-most–and the trainers are entry-level and not particularly high in the org chart. They get to fly more than, say, a high-level engineer, who might only fly once a year or so for a relevant tech conference.

I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do. I would feel weird suggesting that we take away this perk that costs us essentially nothing, especially as most people don’t take advantage of it often (I’d say that even our most frequent travelers attaches a vacation to a work trip no more than a couple times a year). But it’s hard to know how to explain that some people get an added benefit to the job simply because of job role, and when I put it that way I start to second-guess whether it’s unfair after all.

(And if it matters, this policy predated me here, and was also present at my last position, so I get the feeling that “feel free to tack a few more days on if you cover added expenses yourself” is probably not uncommon? But I don’t know.)

What are your thoughts?

Yep, allowing people to do this is very, very normal.

In fact, not allowing people to do this would generally be thought of as particularly crappy since it doesn’t cost the company anything extra. If they refused to allow it, they’d be hard-pressed to come up with a compelling reason why. They’d seriously piss off traveling employees and demoralize people for no reason.

Moreover, it’s generally understood that work travel can be a hardship, especially if you have to do it frequently. Traveling for work can seem exotic or exciting to people who don’t normally have to do it; people who do know that it can be exhausting, boring, and generally sucky to have to be away from your family, friends, pets, and the comforts and conveniences of living in your own house and sleeping in your own bed. You have to deal with airline delays, and being crammed into tiny airplane seats, and people coughing on you. And even if you travel to a cool location, you might only see conference rooms and your hotel.

Allowing people to extend their trips at no cost to the company is generally seen as one small way to make up for the inconveniences of travel.

So no, definitely don’t suggest that your company take away this perk!

If someone complains to you about it, I’d say this: “Work trips take people away from family and friends and their lives at home. If they’re able to tack on some vacation time at no cost to us, we don’t have any reason to object to that.”

If the person says it’s unfair that non-traveling employees don’t get the same benefit, say this: “Are you suggesting that we tell people they can’t do this even though it doesn’t cost us anything?”

I suspect you’ll find that when pinned down, they’re not really suggesting that. But if someone says yes, you can smile and say, “I think we’d have trouble explaining to people why we’re not allowing them to do something that literally doesn’t cost us a penny, especially when they’re uprooting themselves from their lives here to travel for us.”

And then assume that’s the end of it — don’t get drawn into feeling like you have to convince people to agree with you. This is the policy, it’s a very normal policy, it’s perfectly logical, and you don’t need to have a big debate about it (especially as the person who doesn’t set said policy).

One last thing: You wrote that you’re uncomfortable with the idea that some people get an extra benefit just because of the job they’re in. So keep in mind that it’s a very normal fact of work life that different roles come with different perks. Some people’s jobs mean that they get to have a bunch of business lunches and dinners (whether or not that’s a perk is debatable, but some people certainly think it is). Some jobs come with an allowance for entertaining clients. Some people’s jobs mean they get to go home at 5:00 every day and not think about work in the evening. Jobs are different, and different perks come along with different positions.

Different positions = different requirements = different pluses and minuses.

{ 275 comments… read them below }

  1. Not Karen*

    And even if you travel to a cool location, you might only see conference rooms and your hotel.

    A couple years ago I was sent to a conference in a cool city. By the time the conference ended each day, everything else was closed.

    1. Tau*

      Hey, do you want an I Went To [CoolCity] And All I Saw Was The Conference Centre T-shirt? I have plenty!

    2. Aunt Vixen*

      I spent a week in Paris one time when I was a lowly legal assistant. Fourteen-hour work days in the airport hotel just never got fun. (The perk of that trip was that that was when I learned that time-and-a-half maxes out at 60 hours and double time kicks in.)

    3. De Minimis*

      Apparently a lot of the frequent travelers at my workplace complain that it’s really difficult to enjoy travelling anymore, it becomes so associated with work that they often don’t go anywhere when they have time off.

      1. CR*

        I’m not a frequent traveler but I do feel that way when I have time off work. If it’s only a short break, I’d rather be at home in my own bed.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Eh, I never got to that point, even when I traveled 50% for work. Personal travel is totally different.

        1. De Minimis*

          It’s hard for me to believe too, though the travel work at my job involves planning and conducting professional events/meetings, so I could see wanting nothing to do with airports and hotels when you have time off.

      3. AnonAnalyst*

        I felt this way when I worked in event planning. All travel became tinged with all of the less pleasant things that go along with travel – getting through airports, flight delays/cancellations, missing luggage, issues with reservations, etc.

        I would still take trips, but it was more difficult to get myself really excited about going anywhere knowing the hassle that might come along with it. Staying home often seemed more appealing.

        I can also count many cities I’ve been to where I only visited a hotel and an airport, and the only things I actually saw in the city besides those two locations were outside the cab on my way to/from the airport.

      4. myswtghst*

        For me, traveling for work has definitely decreased my desire to spend time in airports and certain hotels, but that mostly means my SO and I tend to road trip and stay with friends or at places which are not large chains when we do travel. We’ve even traveled to places I went for work, just so I could actually enjoy the location and share the awesome restaurants I found with him.

        I will say, when I’ve had 3-4 trips in a short span, I do tend to like to take time off to just lay around my house and catch up on the video games and stuff I’ve missed out on while traveling.

    4. Eh? Non Y. Mouse*

      Some friends saw that I was in town for a conference through social media and they said “oh, when will you have some free time so we can hang out?”

      I managed the Monday afternoon before I flew out Tuesday morning only because the conference wrapped up that morning. They were weirded out that I might be there and not actually have any free time while there.

      I wish more of them got it. I might get dinner with you if I don’t have networking events/etc to attend in the evening, or I’m going to collapse at the end of the day. So I honestly usually only see convention centers and airports when I travel.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        Last summer I was in LA for a conference (I had lived their previously) and sooo many of my friends were asking when I could hang out.

        I was doing 12+ hour days trying to do conference stuff and put out office fires.

        1. Shortie*

          This. I actually keep my travel a secret now because so many people get upset when you can’t meet them or hang out all night. They really don’t understand–or worse, don’t believe–that when I’m on a work trip, I am literally waking up at 6 am (5am if I’d like to exercise), working until 9-10 pm (yes, dreadful required business dinners count as work!), and dropping into bed to do it all over again the next day. Believe me, friends and family, I would muuuchhh rather hang out with you.

      1. Not Karen*

        Which is why I no longer think it is a cool city. We aren’t even talking late at night – the conference got out at 6pm…

    5. Cath in Canada*

      I once went on a work trip to Calgary and literally didn’t even leave the airport. There’s a hotel that’s part of the actual airport building, and that’s where the meeting was. We landed about half an hour before the meeting started, and our flight home took off about two hours after the meeting ended, so there wasn’t time to do anything else. It was my first time ever in a first class airport lounge, though, thanks to someone else on the trip having platinum status, so that was kinda cool.

    6. MashaKasha*

      I went on a business trip in a cool city once that was two days long. Our flight landed in the early afternoon. We went straight to the plant. Worked till midnight. Snacked out of vending machines. Had dinner at 12:30AM at Denny’s, drove to the hotel, and crashed. Got up at 8:00, went back to the plant, snacked from the same vending machine, worked till early afternoon, left just in time to catch the flight home. That was my only ever visit to [Cool City].

      OTOH, my business trips to Middle Of Nowhere were usually relaxed and with plenty of free evenings, go figure!

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      You’re not kidding. I used to gnash my teeth every year that I was sent to Cool City X for the same conference and could NEVER try this one restaurant that got a ton of press but that served only lunch and closed at 4 PM every day.

      1. Ferrari World Woes*

        I worked on a large trade show a few years back and this sounds exactly like one of my fellow employees (well, really, temps – both of us, that is). Us temps had not been invite to the trade show’s fancy big dinner at the city’s aquarium (which would have been a nice gesture!) so we decided to make a night out of it elsewhere. My colleague picked a restaurant he couldn’t stop talking about for the weeks leading up to the show. Well, the night of the big dinner came and an hour before the dinner, the company decided to invite all of us temps to the big dinner (probably because they were already paying for plates that weren’t getting used, so not exactly saintly on their part). We all knew it would be the “professional” thing to go to the aquarium dinner, but my poor colleague was so devastated he couldn’t try this restaurant. Poor guy even planned out exactly what he was going to order. The aquarium dinner was fun for us, and we drank at the open bars, played around the aquarium exhibits (this was allowed!), and generally had a good time. However, it will always leave a bad taste in my mouth that this courtesy was not extended to us in the first place, especially since all of us were there for at least a week each (me for even longer to set up), were working 12+ hour days, and were all great workers. Sigh – I guess courtesies and business don’t always go hand in hand.

        But yeah, I am so bummed I go to Abu Dhabi all the time for work and have NEVER been to Ferrari World!

    8. many bells down*

      I was in Chicago for a trade show once, just a couple blocks from the Magnificent Mile. Unfortunately, it was also January, and -50 with the wind chill. I grew up in California and just did not own any proper winter clothing. I barely made it one block to the drugstore.

    9. sam*

      Let me tell you about the two months I spent in Rome. Rome, center of culture and history, you say? at about week 6, of windowless conference rooms in an office park near the airport, working until 11 each night, eating food off the ‘night menu’ at the hotel where I was in the tiniest room imaginable, and where, after I managed to come down with the flu and on my one day off on the weekend had managed to actually sleep the entire day, was woken up by hotel management because the hotel laundry had managed to DESTROYED MOST OF MY CLOTHES, I threatened to quit my job if my office didn’t let me come home for at least a few days.

      My stories became legendary around the firm.

        1. sam*

          Sure. The hotel bought be some new stuff, but let me describe that scene for you:

          Plus-sized me+flu-induced vomiting+torrential rain+scouring the nearest Rinascente for new underwear that fit with the hotel concierge who was acting as both translator and purchaser = the stuff nightmares are made of.

          Like I said, LEGENDARY. and no, I didn’t leave out the underwear part when describing how at-my-wits-end I was to the partners I was threatening to quit to. They basically took one look at me when they had flown in for that week’s in-person meetings and were like “yes, how soon can you be on a plane for a mental health break?”

          (I went home for a grand total of 5 days, and worked the entire time – but all I needed was to not be in that room, and to wear some different clothes, for a little while).

          What also really didn’t help things was that I left for this trip, which was only supposed to be two weeks, and which kept getting extended, only two weeks after I had moved into my new apartment, so I hadn’t even finished unpacking from that whole move/renovation mess. Between renovations, that deal, some other work I did in Latin America following it, and then (yes, I am a masochist), full-on MOVING back to Italy for a 6-month stint the following fall (Milan, this time), I think I figured out at one point that I had *not* lived in my new apartment for more months than I *had* lived in it.

      1. Ginger*

        I went to New Orleans for a conference just last week. Second night there, I stepped into a small hole in the street, fell and sprained my ankle and hurt my left hand pretty bad. Last day there, my entire packed suitcase was stolen from the conference room at 7:30 in the morning when I went to get breakfast in the room right next door. The conference room was not on the main lobby floor with people walking in off the street, you had to know it was there. Hotel security was less than useless and their cameras only showed the area by the elevators. Worst business trip ever (for me).

      2. Kera*

        You guys all remember the volcano in Iceland that errupted in 2010, yeah? The week before, I’d been at a conference in New Orleans. That was fun. Saw two separate hit and runs, the conference hours were 8-8 with mandatory socializing afterwards – lots of clients with wandering hands, no food I could eat. My flight home to the UK was routed through Chicago O’Hare. Transfer at Chicago, crash out for the night flight. Get woken up at ?? o’clock – we’re turning round and going back to Chicago!
        I was stranded in Chicago for a week in March with a suitcase for New Orleans, no money and no chill. O’Hare international terminal is not a space anyone should have to spend more than half an hour in. I was there every day. Got minor bout of food poisoning, had to work my overextended post-conference hours in order to get two weeks of usual workload done as well as my post-conference followup – so no time to explore Chicago, even if I had a coat that would be warm enough and could get away from the airport. My director told me to expense a cheap bottle of whisky and make my own entertainment. My catsitter had to break into my apartment so she could continue looking after my cats – she’d put my keys through the letterbox before my flight got turned around.

        There’s a note in my file for our travel booker that I don’t have to transfer through Chicago unless it is provably the only option.

    10. myswtghst*

      Even when I’ve stayed two weeks in a cool location, by the weekend I’m so wiped from working long hours in a strange place that I barely have the energy to go explore, or I wind up getting sick from being stuck in a plane for hours with everyone’s germs. Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy traveling for work (especially eating fun food in new places and meeting new people), but it definitely isn’t a vacation. When I have X amount of work to get done and it needs to be 100% complete in the Y number of days I’m there, it’s rare I’m not working long days (and sometimes more at night when I get back to the hotel) when I’m traveling for work.

    11. Bob*

      Many of the people I know are the opposite. They get a friend or spouse to buy a cheap second ticket, share their hotel room and then don’t attend a single event at the conference. Now that does make me mad because it’s literally a free vacation in a cool city with absolutely no benefit to the company.

      1. sam*

        but that’s just plain abuse of the system. People who get caught doing crap like that should be forced to reimburse the company for the cost of their travel, at a minimum.

  2. F.*

    And some crabs are always trying to drag the others back down into the bucket. My father traveled extensively for part of his career. It was miserable for both him and my mother and us kids. Invariably the car would break down, we’d all get sick, or something else would happen. The couple of times that my mother was able to accompany him (once to Las Vegas and once to Brussels and Paris) were trip of a lifetime events for them.

    1. Laura*

      Great response. My dad also traveled a lot for work. As a kid, I thought it was so glamorous… then I grew up and learned that he usually went to places like Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, and New Mexico. (No offense meant to any of those states.) He was miserable and exhausted when he came home.

    2. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      This was us too. The amount of travel he did really sucked for the rest of us, and for him as well. I’ve done a lot less travel, and it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. That time I got to meet up with my husband in Cool City for New Year’s after I did my EOY work was the best. The rest was meh.

    3. addlady*

      The sickness probably was more of a side effect than a coincidence anyway — nothing to get you sick like going to a nice new place with foreign germs!

    4. MashaKasha*

      My mom traveled a lot for work when I was growing up. When I was getting married myself, I asked her, “mom, you and Dad have such a fantastic marriage. Close to 30 years together, and you still get along great, when all your friends are either divorced or barely speaking to each other. What’s your secret?” Without even thinking, mom said “I traveled a lot.” :)

      But yeah. That wasn’t my experience. I hated being on the road and away from family. Luckily I didn’t have to travel very often for my jobs. So I definitely agree about the crabs.

      1. Laura*

        Heh, my Dad used to go to India for 3 weeks at a time 4 times a year or so. Mum mom insists to this day it’s why they were able to stay married so long (41 years so far).

        I will say my parents did a great job of making it easy on us kids. My mom made his trips “special” by letting us have dinner in front of the TV a couple times during his trip (strictly verboten otherwise), and relaxing a few other rules.

        And then when my dad returned, even after twenty hours of exhausting travel, the first thing he’d do is put his suitcase down in our foyer, and open it layer by layer pulling out small treats and gifts for us. Most of them were simple, inexpensive things, but the whole routine made his trips something to almost look forward to, instead of dreading them. We still missed him, but felt very secure he’d be back and would spend quality time with us then.

        1. Hlyssande*

          Kids get ridiculously happy even with hotel toiletries as gifts. Or at least we did. When my dad went to Phoenix, that’s what he’d bring back every time. Once it was shirts!

    5. Murphy*

      Yup! My husband travels a lot for work and you can guarantee that a business trip is when the kid is getting sick and I have important meetings. He loves his work so I try not to lose my shit, but yeah, it’s hard and not a perk.

      1. Cass*

        My husband is currently traveling overseas…we don’t have kids so it’s definitely not as much of a strain on me, but I miss him!!! So much! We are glad it’s at least a 12 hour time difference so we can sync up with chats (7am for him, 7pm for me.)

  3. Chocolate Teapot*

    I always understood that staying over a Saturday made plane tickets much cheaper, and I have requested an extension to business travel in the past. It can seem exciting but I found travelling for business quite stressful and an added layer of hassle. Also, I was not important enough to merit a company credit card, so I had to swallow the costs and then be reimbursed.

    1. Z*

      Can confirm as a reservations former employee of the Major American Airline, a Saturday Night Stay nearly always made the flight cheaper. I say nearly b/c although I never saw a cheaper Saturday departure, I did occasionally see a Saturday departure being the same price as a Sunday departure.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      And my husband, who works for a federal contractor, is not allowed to pay the difference to extend a stay. Because that looks like he’s having fun using your taxes, so even if it saves the government money, he can’t do it. The appearance is more important than the reality.

      1. Drink the Juice Shelby*

        I work for a contractor as well. I used to be an admin and did all the travel bookings for my group of 120. The corporate policy is you price both the normal trip and extended trip when you go to book it. The employee paid for any airfare difference and of course hotel and rental car differences as well. Airfare most of the time was the same price or cheaper, especially internationally.

        I never heard anyone complain that the travelers got extra perks.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Interesting, about the appearance to tax payers.

        Because my mom worked for the the State of Iowa, and was *encouraged* to extend her business travel, especially if it would go over a Saturday, because it was (at that time) so much cheaper. I think they even scheduled meetings for Mondays or Fridays, so it would encourage people to do that.

        Of course, that wasn’t about her paying any extra, because there wasn’t any difference to pay; it was only about the timing of her flights. And they didn’t care where she stayed, so that wasn’t considered “extra,” it was consider “her personal time, therefore her problem, not ours, just like her house is.”

        Maybe the price differential isn’t as good as it used to be.

  4. Bend & Snap*

    I travel a fair bit for work and it is NOT a picnic. I’m lucky that I get to go to cool places, and I do sometimes tack on time without having to clear it, but arranging childcare, the suck bomb that is airline travel and cranking out insane hours during a trip is not cushy.

    I wouldn’t give it up because it gives me professional opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have, but I would certainly object to someone in a different role giving me side eye as if I were getting some kind of amazing perk not available to them.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      I remember being so excited when I took a traveling consultant position. I had the total tv image in my head of business class travel, hotel suites, and an unlimited expense account to wine and dine clients.

      The reality was 6am Monday morning flights, same-day turnaround to save the money, and spending a lot of time trying to figure out what my Per diem got me.

      1. Mary*

        Yeah, travelling with kids, once the work travel is over it is home as quickly as possible to see them. So even if there was opportunities I don’t take them any more.

      2. Stephanie*

        When I interviewed at a consulting company, they were going to have me fly out my home city at 6 am, interview, and then fly back that evening. (Home City and Interview City are about an hour flight apart.) It would have been feasible, but I thought I wouldn’t interview well if I had left home at 4 am (or earlier) to catch a 6 am flight. So I asked to book my travel the previous day and stay in a hotel. In retrospect, maybe that was a test to see if I could handle the lifestyle.

  5. Lady Kelvin*

    Seriously, I travel internationally several times a year for work and people think that its so cool that I’ve seen so many places. What they don’t realize is that while I’m in a cool place, my meetings start at 8am, go until 7-8pm, Mon-Friday, we arrive Sunday morning/afternoon, leave early Saturday morning, and end up eating and drinking all night at the hotel bar because nothing is open by the time we are done. I’ve been to Senegal, but all I can tell you is that the hotel we stayed in was pretty nice, but the vaccines/malaria pills/getting sick from drinking the water (whoops!), not so much. Plus, when you are travelling for work you are probably putting in some serious overtime (and often exempt), so being able to stay a few extra days when you’re travelling to a cool place kind of makes up for that too, even though it doesn’t cost the company anything more.

    1. OpheliaInWaders*

      Agreed. And the times I’ve extended my travel, it’s because I flew to a very far-away place for, like, 3 or 4 days, and honestly, the idea of spending *another* 13-20 hours stuffed into economy (I work for a contractor that follows government regulations about air travel, so business class flights are few and far between) in such a short time is miserable.

    2. Laura*

      One of my favorite professors in college does research in Senegal. Once I asked him what it was like. He said “other than getting malaria every time I go, it’s great!” :O

    3. Sarahnova*

      Yeah, I did a work trip to Accra and got food poisoning. As good as it got was that I finished my reports sitting outside at the pool with a beer on my last night. And the malaria pills gave me nightmares.

    4. sam*

      heh. my brother does international NGO work. he has ended up with malaria, Typhoid, has gone into anaphylactic shock from drinking honey wine in Ethiopia (luckily he had his epi-pen), various other intestinal parasites, has had surgery in a rural hospital in Thailand, almost went into kidney failure from altitude sickness in the himalayas…
      …and that’s just the stuff he’s told me about.

      He’s also had erlicchiosis (similar to lyme disease), but he managed to get that visiting my parents in the Berkshires, a location that has also been the site of my father getting bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider (And my family wonders why I stay in NYC.)

  6. Mallorie, the recruiter*

    It’s great that you pointed out how some jobs are just different. I leave work every day at 4pm on the dot, and not everyone gets to do that. I’d be pretty irritated to find out I had to stay until 5pm just to make it fair. There are pros and cons to a lot of jobs, some are more tangible and obvious than others. I think this is just one of those times where the pro is more obvious to the employees who don’t travel than the con is.

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      I would be SO upset if I had a perk that was taken away because some people whined that it was unfair, and yes it’s whining.

      Jobs/fields/careers are different. I work in an office so I have the autonomy to figure out my work load and at the very very least, use the restroom when I damn well please. This may not be the best example, but that’s all I can think of right now..

      1. OhNo*

        I think that’s a great example, and one that most people can relate to. In general, retail jobs come with certain limitations and benefits, restaurant jobs come with certain limitations and benefits, and office jobs come with certain limitations and benefits.

        Then within the general category, each position breaks down to different limitations and benefits. My boss can work from home because her work allows her that flexibility; mine doesn’t. I get to leave on time most days and leave all my work at work; she doesn’t. Every position is a give and take, it’s just that people usually have rose-colored glasses when they’re looking at someone else’s “benefits”, so they don’t notice the big drawbacks before they start complaining.

    2. Sans*

      I leave at 4 every day, too. My boss doesn’t, but then again she makes a lot more money. There’s always a trade off.

    3. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

      A local office of the organization I used to work for had a strict no-working-from-home policy. Why? Because the receptionists would never have the option to work from home, and that was unfair to them. (Meanwhile, the organization did NOT mind when people did have to work from home in emergencies in the week-ends.) That was in a city notorious for very high rent if you lived in the center, and commute-from-hell if you lived in the suburbs.

      They asked me to apply there several times, and I always refused, as the lifestyle trade-off sounded horrible, even though the jobs sounded great.

  7. Kyrielle*

    I have in the past traveled extensively for work, and had that perk. I was more than thrilled to move to a position with no travel and no chance of that perk. (Now the position has added some travel. I’m not deeply thrilled, but it’s not a ton of travel and it will be fine. It’s not a location I’m likely to extend a trip to – but that’s okay. It’s still way less travel than the previous job at its peak, which is still way less travel than most salespeople and trainers do.)

    People who travel extensively can, at the worst, have trouble being home enough to collect and pay their bills on time. They miss out on their family’s lives if they’re married; they miss out on deep connections with their community or with local friends, even if they wanted them; they deal with all the things you mentioned. Counting dealing with travel, they are also often pulling very long days and weeks. This perk is a tiny, tiny little bit to offset all that.

    And the people who only travel once or a few times per year can *also* benefit from it, if they like where they’re going to enough – that’s a nice side effect for them.

    1. LJL*

      So very true. I travel a fair amount, and it’s very hard to stay active in the community and do what I need to here at home when I have to fit it around my trips. I would not change it, but it’s still not a picnic.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Yes, this is what I found hardest about traveling a lot for work. I could never sit on a board, take a community ed class, commit to book club meetings.

  8. Grey*

    Maybe stop framing it as perk and say something like, “We’ll offer you the same consideration if you’re ever burdened with a travel assignment”.

    1. CeeCee*

      For better or worse, this would be much more likely to be my response. Whenever someone questions fairness, my first response is always something along the lines of: “If you were in that situation, wouldn’t you want that same convenience available to you?”

      In this case, I might also explain that business trips aren’t as luxurious as they seem and this is just a small way the company can, at no extra cost, show them a bit of appreciation for the person left with the burden of travel.

      1. Koko*

        I would go so far as to say that it’s not even “showing appreciation” so much as it’s “not being an unreasonable tyrant.”

        I book all of my own travel and submit the expenses for reimbursement, so from that perspective it’s even more obvious. When I submit my hotel bill I black out the extra nights on the bill, and I submit my flights as they are. The hotel costs are approved for a particular number of night, but flight costs are approved relative to the expected average cost of traveling round-trip between these locations. The idea that they should refuse to reimburse half my flight because they arbitrarily didn’t approve of the day I chose to come home, completely independent of pricing, is absurd.

    2. Hannah Kilcoyne*

      Yes! If someone really complained about this unfair “perk” to me, I would probably sideswipe explaining to them why it’s actually not unfair, since someone who thinks like that probably can’t be reasoned with anyway, and just tell them that they could always keep an eye on internal openings if they want to switch to a job with travel. Chances are high that they don’t actually want to travel for work, they just want a free trip. And hey, who doesn’t?

  9. Savannah*

    My fiance and I both travel extensively for our work. We are often not in the same place at the same time for weeks on end. We sometimes do overlap a few days here and there in some of the bigger cities such as London or Tokyo. We routinely take a few days to explore the city on weekends when I’m coming in and hes flying out or vice versa. Bumping the flights down a day or two is a negligible or nonexistent cost to our companies and without this perk we would only see each other when both of us were home, probably 2 months out of the year. Travel is great but work travel is still work and the perk is a nice way of making everything a just a little nicer.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Oh god, I don’t.

        There are real benefits to work travel (the main one for me being the travel status and airline/hotel points), but yikes. It sounds Savannah doesn’t really live anywhere. That would be so hard for me! (It was hard enough traveling 50%, all to one location; I essentially had two homes, one of which was a hotel in Indianapolis.)

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          I love the idea of not really living anywhere and only seeing people in passing. (Note how I said “the idea” – I would probably get tired of it after a while if I wasn’t going anywhere fun.)

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Yeah, I get that. When I traveled for work I actually loved the time away from my husband (with whom I have what I think is a great, happy relationship). There’s a not insignificant part of me that just wants to be a hermit with my books, and that’s mostly how I spent my evenings in the hotel.

            1. Bend & Snap*

              Yes, as a single mom, a couple of days of quiet with my Kindle and nobody climbing on me is pretty wonderful! That IS a perk for sure.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Nope! I worked for a small nonprofit startup. I managed our work in Minnesota and Indiana and split my time between the two states.

      2. SL #2*

        I do too, but I definitely recognize that I’m young, single with no children, the family pets are in the care of my parents… I don’t have the kinds of commitments that others might have that make work travel a hassle, and I still have the energy for multiple trips a quarter.

        But to quote Savannah: “but work travel is still work.” I might take an extra weekend and fly back on Sunday so I can visit my friends in whatever city, but all the stuff leading up to the moment when I’m off the clock and on my mini-vacation is still work. Those extra couple of days is just like a light at the end of the tunnel.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          I do too, but I definitely recognize that I’m young, single with no children

          Yup, same here. If my circumstances were different, I’d probably dream about it less.

        2. Murphy*

          Yeah, my husband’s position on being away has changed dramatically since before meeting me from “yay, travel” to “aw, sucks to be away” to “damn it, another f*&$ing trip” now that we have kids. I mean, it’s not that bad, but it’s definitely way less fun for him (and me!) now than it used to be.

        3. Tau*

          I’m young, single with no children, no pets, and the travel is still a hassle. Sure, it’s not nearly as bad as if I had real obligations in Place A, and at least I travel between two fixed locations and don’t have to stay in hotels on either end. But the travel just eats into your free time, trying to keep what are effectively two homes straight is a headache and a half (the thing you want right now is always in the other place!) and I begin to yearn for Sundays where I can just stay home and do whatever and not go an odyssey to see all England’s rail replacement bus services. Also, getting to stay in my actual flat for >48 consecutive hours. The things I could do!

  10. TootsNYC*

    “especially when they’re uprooting themselves from their lives here to travel for us.”

    yeah, traveling for work is not a perk; it’s a big burden. i might even expand on that, that people who travel for work can’t have dinner with their friends, carry their own weight at home in terms of chores, can’t have the pleasure of picking their kids up from work, don’t get to see family as much.

    People give something up when they travel.

    My mom used to travel for the state of Iowa, and they actually encouraged people to stay over the weekend, because it saved them money on the flight. In fact, she could fly to NYC on Friday to visit me, take a train to D.C. early on Monday for her meetings, and fly back from D.C. on Tuesday for less money than flying in and out of D.C. on Monday and Tuesday.

  11. The Optimizer*

    I traveled some for Old Job but it never dawned on me to think it unfair that others got to travel more than I did.

    I will admit to being just a little jealous of the airline miles some people that traveled often racked up but I never grumbled about it or even thought about voicing a complaint about it. I always figured they deserved it for being away from home so much.

  12. Retail HR Guy*

    You can always point out to any complainers that they are welcome to apply for any future open position that requires travel for which they are qualified. That has worked for me in many cases dealing with “fairness”-obsessed employees.

    “How come I have to wear business casual while the warehouse workers don’t?!!!” gets “There’s an opening in the warehouse right now if you want to learn to drive a forklift.”

    1. AFT123*

      I really like this approach. It reinforces or reminds people that certain job responsibilities come along with perks (or burdens, for that matter). It’s not an issue of being fair or not – it’s part of the responsibilities of the position, and like Retail HR guy said, if associates thing the perk is valuable enough to career plan into a traveling job role, good for them! It should be clear to them though that the perk and travel needs are mutually exclusive and depend on the needs of the role.

    2. DoDah*

      At OldJob (in software)–it wasn’t uncommon for the engineers to complain about this perk that the sales people got and they didn’t. Then again–at that company–everyone complained about everything.

  13. WhiskeyTango*

    This is so normal. I travel frequently for work and usually try to get home as soon as I can, but every now and then I do extend the trip, at my own cost. Sometimes just one night so I can catch a show on Broadway, other times, it’s for a few days so I can visit family. I’ve never had anyone bat an eye at it and if they did, I’d certainly be less agreeable to my travel schedule.

    Usually we pay for one or two nights for the business event. Last year though, I had to travel to Alaska and the company paid for five nights. (It was a long haul to get up there so to turn back around after one or two nights would have been a tough journey). I stayed for another five on top of it and brought my husband and kids. I was not the only one to do so, in fact, anyone who didn’t stay longer or bring their family was asked why. (Not in a pressuring kind of why, but because it seemed like such a normal thing to do.) In the end, I definitely spent more out of pocket than my company did, but given the uniqueness of the opportunity, it was well worth it. I don’t think anyone begrudged me going, but if there is any jealousy, it’s a result of the function of my job, vs. the function of theirs.

    1. Drink the Juice Shelby*

      I was an admin that booked all the travel. Once there was a big meeting in Munich that just happened to end the day before Oktoberfest started. Everyone was going to stay at least one extra day, one had a friend fly in and they spent a few days there and one had his wife join him for a week vacation there. No one batted an eye. Employees all paid for any extra cost and it was a great chance for them to have some fun at the end of a long week of meetings. My only complaint was they couldn’t take me as their luggage carrier assistant.

  14. LW*

    Thanks so much, Alison! I think that your advice about calmly stating the policy and not engaging is going to be really helpful. The people who want to vent just want to vent, I think, but that doesn’t mean that I have to be the one they vent to.

    I think in some cases there’s a… I don’t know, a power thing going on–more senior people who don’t travel (engineers, primarily) are annoyed that much more junior people get “free airfare for their vacations,” (never mind the fact that most of the trips are not to places that are exactly vacation hotspots–there are maybe one or two trips to exciting cities, and it’s basically luck of the draw whether someone gets one at a time that it makes sense to take extra vacation time). Sort of, “If Suzy Low-Level Trainer gets to go to Orlando and take a week off to see Disney World, airfare paid by the company, why can ‘t I, Joe Big Deal Programmer, get to do the same thing?” And never mind that 9/10 of Suzy’s trips are to Rutabaga Landing, Nowheresville, or that Joe Big Deal Programmer has perks of his own (one of which is actually knowing where he’s likely to be any given Thursday).

    But yeah, given that this is a common perk, and a perfectly reasonable (it gives the employee some flexibility while costing nothing!), I’m going to go with the tactic of just not arguing or engaging. They can find someone else to complain at!

    1. LW*

      (And to be clear, I never would have advocated for removing a completely harmless perk–I was mostly just at a loss as to what to say when pigeonholed by one of the complainers. I think they tended to think of me to complain to because I book travel but don’t actually travel all that much, so they assumed I would be on “their side.”)

    2. Kyrielle*

      *grins* Yes, that’s the easy part to forget. Trips to the ‘good spots’ are few and far between – and for seasonal ‘good spots’ the odds of going at the right time of year aren’t as high as you could wish. (I got to visit Palm Springs for business once…near the end of August. I do not recommend it as a leisure destination at that time of year. “Luckily” I was pulling 10-12 hour days, so I had no interest in leisure anyway, but the 109-degree heat at dusk would have cured me of it if I had!)

      1. SL #2*

        I travel once a quarter to State Capitol That Used To Be Farmland and it is hell in the summer… and I’m from a desert climate!

      2. Drink the Juice Shelby*

        Ha! One year a team from Munich had to come to Dallas in August, so everyone figured the big meeting scheduled in Munich the following January was pay back.

    3. LBK*

      I think this is a great case for Retail HR Guy’s strategy above – pointing out that if they want the perk they can switch jobs and (presumably) get paid less, have worse hours, never see their friends and family and have to likely be on their feet at meetings/converstions all day instead of getting to sit at a desk and come and go as they please. If they think that trade off is worth an occasional discount plane ticket, they’re more than welcome to apply.

    4. MillersSpring*

      In replying to the complainers, I’d add that Suzy doesn’t “get to” travel, she “has to” travel.

    5. MoinMoin*

      I don’t know if it’s feasible for you, but my company often negotiates special rates with hotel, airline, rental car, etc companies and allows all employees to use those rates for personal travel as well. We book it ourselves and just supply a code or book it through a portal depending on the company. Sometimes it isn’t much (equivalent of a AAA discount or something) but sometimes it’s really nice, like when you end up needing to be in San Diego for a wedding during Comic Con, yes please I’ll take a reasonably priced execustay.
      And if it’s not something currently being done, your company may ask if it’s something that could be offered by some of your frequent suppliers.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        My company does the same thing. In fact, I used the corporate travel program to book my Vegas trip (which, oddly enough, I’m on now – gah, a layover is coming).

        1. Windchime*

          I just took my first trip to Vegas recently. Fortunately for me, it’s a quick 2 hour, non-stop flight away.

    6. Joseph*

      I think you’re taking the right approach. Frankly, there’s no way they can defend their own position, they’re just trying to vent some stress and you happen to be convenient as “the travel arranger”.

      I guarantee you that if they were honest with themselves, Joe Big Deal Programmer would much, much prefer to make his salary and pay for his own vacations than get entry-level trainer pay and sometimes save money on airfare. Frankly, Suzy Low-Level Trainer would probably gladly trade jobs even if it meant never getting free airfare.

    7. Newby*

      Maybe you could say that you are fortunate to work for a company that is flexible whenever possible, especially when it costs them nothing. You might be able to think up examples which apply to the people complaining.

    8. AdAgencyChick*

      If anyone complained at me about “getting” to go to Orlando, I’d be, all, “You wanna go in my place?” To me it’s the Most Annoying Place on Earth! I was so happy to learn that my current job wouldn’t require regular convention travel (travel for other reasons, yes, but I typically don’t have to go to Orlando unless there’s a convention).

      Chacun a son gout, right?

      1. periwinkle*

        Arrrrrgh, I am so not a fan of MCO. Unfortunately Orlando is set up nicely for conventions so I’ll have to fly back there in the next year or two.

        I thought business travel was glamorous but after two years of multiple trips, I’m so glad to have just the one trip in 2016 (and it’s over with, yay!). Yeah, I liked getting status on an airline but early boarding doesn’t compensate for the hours crammed into a flying can and days spent away from home.

        1. seanchaigirl*

          I’ve already been once this year and have to go back in September. At least the first time it was January. I’d like to know who thought Orlando in September sounded like a good idea.

      2. Pontoon Pirate*

        In Orlando’s defense, there’s “convention/theme park” Orlando and local Orlando. Unfortunately, business travelers rarely get to see the latter.

  15. anon for this*

    While I totally understand that traveling for work sucks for a lot of people and that adding extra time off comes at no big disadvantage to the company, I can see where those non-traveling employees would be annoyed. I can’t afford a plane ticket (they’re expensive), so vacations to destinations I could only get to by plane are off limits. In that light, it looks like an employee who gets to have a vacation on their dime but without having to pay for the added expense of the flight.

    1. jm*

      In OP’s situation, though, it sounds like some of the people who are complaining (like high-ranking employees) COULD, in fact, afford plane tickets, and those who are actually doing the traveling are more entry-level, and wouldn’t ordinarily be in a position to afford plane tickets multiple times a year.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Non-traveling employees can apply then for jobs with travel. There’s zero grounds to be annoyed.

      Over the years I’ve heard my share of grumbling about how it’s not fair that sales people get commissions, or bonuses, or have sales contests where they can win “whatever”. I ask the grumbler, “Oh! Would you like to be in sales? We can work towards that!” and the grumbler says (you can guess), “I’d never want to be in sales!”

      Well, okay then.

      1. Adam V*


        They’ve got a job you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot-pole, they get the fringe benefits that come along with it.

      2. C*

        Exactly. My last role was in a team that coordinated events worldwide – the travel aspect was anything but glamorous, and it was an intense schedule. Needless to say, it was demoralizing when members of other teams/departments would make thinly veiled snide remarks about “oh, that team (with all their junior members) gets to travel the world”.
        a) It’s the nature of the job, b) they’re never pleasure trips, and c) stop making demoralizing remarks regarding your colleagues job roles and perceived “perks”.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          So this was similar to my last job, although most of my coworkers recognized that none of the trips were actually glamorous. However, we would sometimes get new people on board who wouldn’t realize this and would make comments about our great jobs where we got to travel all the time.

          Well, they were in luck! The organization coordinated one really large event every year that required support from every area of our company, so most employees were sent out to work at this event in their first year or two on the job. At which point they saw that the core event staff was working 14-16 hour days during the event to keep it running smoothly (compared to their 6-8 hour days on site).

          Once people had worked the event, the comments about how great it must be to travel all the time stopped.

      3. Sunshine*

        Wakeen – I’m still giggling with evil delight at this approach. “Oh that’s great! I had no idea you wanted to go into sales! We could really use the help!”

        They wouldn’t be able to scurry away fast enough at my place.

    3. Marvel*

      I don’t understand why it would look that way, since that’s not the case. The flight is being paid for so that they can get to the work event.

      1. anon for this*

        But they get to choose when to come back. It’s more that they’re extending the flight return date for vacation time and it’s a flight they didn’t have to pay for because it’s to a work event.

        But all I was saying is that I could see why people might feel that way, not that I necessarily agree with that. But I’m not going to say anything else because all the comments are swaying one way and I don’t want to get jumped on for trying to rationalize a different point of view.

        1. LBK*

          I think most people understand why people feel that way, everyone is just pointing out that that’s very myopic view of what’s happening. It takes only the part you want (getting a discount plane ticket from your company) and ignores all the trade-offs that come with it; it’s not a justified viewpoint.

        2. Christopher Tracy*

          I get where you’re coming from, anon, and I can see how it seems like a free trip in the sense of not paying for your own ticket when you’ll be doing non-work things for a few days after your conference or whatever.

        3. Oryx*

          Right. Because it’s for a work event. That’s sort of the key here. The company isn’t paying for a flight so the employee can go take a vacation at random, they are paying for a flight for a work event — the employee is just choosing to extend their return trip and paying for that portion on their time. But the flight originally was for work, so I guess I don’t really see the problem here.

          1. TuxedoCat*

            I’m biased because I travel a lot for work, but I agree with this. I don’t pick where I go or when I go places for work events. The amount of planning that goes into maintaining my personal life and the office work that occurs while I’m away so that these trips can happen- I feel like choosing my return or arrival flight is small compared to the extra stuff I have to do for the trip

          2. periwinkle*

            Exactly. I’m not necessarily going anywhere fun. Most of my flights were to St. Louis. That is not on my list of the top 100 vacation destinations. Not that it matters, because I’ve yet to actually see anything of the city except the bit between the airport and our facilities.

        4. justcourt*

          I get what you’re saying. I’m not annoyed that people who have to travel for work have the option to extend the trip. And I get that people don’t get to choose where they travel for work and that traveling for work is stressful. But even Alison said this is a perk. So while there are drawbacks, having the opportunity to extend a work trip is still a perk.

        5. Not So NewReader*

          I see what you are saying, anon for this. It makes sense to me. The flight is picked out and paid for and the hotel is picked out for them. It’s like having your own travel agent do all the booking/planning for you. Then the cost of the flight is covered and presto! you are on vacation to boot! And they don’t lose PTO to flight time. This is starting to work in to hundreds of dollars in value.

          I am betting that the complainers do not see themselves as getting a perk of equivalent dollar value. And that is the actual problem.

          I am not sure that telling them to take a job doing X so they get that perk is going to quell any upset, because it skips the part about some people getting hundreds of dollars in perks and other people don’t. And it assumes that the complainers want that exact perk. Maybe they want something else.

          And I am not sure that telling the complainers how much the X job sucks really helps either. I think most people can persuasively argue that their own job sucks if they want to. And I don’t think perks should be tied to suckiness.

          I have no clue what the answers are and oddly,for myself, I really don’t care that much. I don’t want a lot of work travel, it’s a nuisance to me. I have always chalked it up to people who do X are more valued that people who do Y and that is why Xs get the perks. Life goes on. I do wonder if companies can do something for the Ys who do not get the perks that Xs do.

          And then I land on, every job has it’s advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to each of us to figure out how to maximize the advantages of our current position. And I think that is what I would tell the complainers.

    4. Sadsack*

      Instead of thinking others are getting perks, think of it as they are being somewhat compensated for their travel burdens — especially the lower level employees who are in the high travel jobs.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Actually, I’m sure the company would happily allow non-traveling employees to tack a vacation on at the end of a work period. Of course, the company will cover any normal business-mandated travel expenses, but hotels, etc., will be on them.

      It’s called a staycation, and they’re welcome to take one anytime!

  16. The IT Manager*

    This complaint is bizarre to me because this is such a common perk that the government allows it (as long as it is at no additional cost; employee picks up any additional cost).

    The people complaining about this really seem out of touch as is the LW’s suggestion that the perk be removed for “fairness.” Is it “fair” that some people are not required to travel for work and others are? Fairness is irrelevant in this case, and Alison’s answer seems perfect.

    1. Artemesia*

      LOL perfect answer. I gave in speech in Hawaii last year and asked to extend by 8 days at of course no cost to those flying me in on a government grant to do a project for them; no one objected and of course in Hawaii that is a common request, but it took a long time to go through the hurdles. The stay over meant my air fare was quite a bit less than if I had flown in and out during the week and it even meant the cost of my rental car was much less to the organization once we booked it for two weeks and we paid pro rata for the time after the work stint. The stay over gave us a vacation, my pay paid for my husband’s expenses, and the total cost to the organization was substantially less than a quick fly in and out because it took me over a weekend for air fare.

      1. TootsNYC*

        My mom’s organization i think would even let you spend the money you saved; if your and your spouse’s ticket were cheaper than a work-time-only ticket for you, they’d book both of them.

    2. Tomato Frog*

      Haha, yes. My first thought was “Even the public libraries and universities I’ve worked for allow this. How could it possibly be controversial?” I mean, these are employers who expect you to share hotel rooms for work-related travel, and they still allow you to extend your stay!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I know plenty of people that are not familiar with how travel for work is actually done. While it is true they appear out of touch to those familiar with the subject, maybe no one has explained it to them and they have never needed to travel. Most of us have something in life that we do not know and yet others learned early on.

      If OP is getting hit with these types of questions often, then OP is wise to think about how to craft an actual explanation that she can keep reusing.

    4. Brett*

      While public academia and sometimes federal government allows it, it is rare for state and local government because per diem payouts are normally mandatory. Even if you otherwise pick up the extra costs, you still have to receive the daily meal allowance and that more than offsets the savings. Often I had to leave events early just because the early flight cut a day of per diem.

      1. TootsNYC*

        well, this was years ago, but my mom traveled for the State of Iowa, and they ENCOURAGED her to extend her travel to go over a weekend, because it saved them significant money.

        Since she was traveling to D.C., she was able to fly to NYC on Friday night to see me, take a train to D.C. for the meetings on Monday, and fly back on Wednesday for less money that if she’d flow two and from D.C. Mon-Wed.

  17. phedre*

    When I was first starting my career, work travel seemed exciting. Very quickly I learned it’s exhausting and stressful (we had evening dinner meetings, so you were “on” from like 8am-9pm), plus it sucks so much being away from home. And flying sucks so hard! I am SO glad my current career doesn’t require travel.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      Work travel is exciting to me, but that’s because I only do it once in a blue moon. I hate flying though (I like to get where I’m going and I’m always on flights with layovers, ugh) – I wish I could learn to teleport.

      1. Gabriela*

        I agree. I enjoy traveling for work because I do it 2-3 times a year max. However, almost every return flight, I think about how tired I am and how happy I am to go back to my normal routine.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I don’t mind traveling for work but I only have to do it once or twice a year. I have booked extra time on some trips; on others, I just want to get in and out so I don’t. And like you, I’m always happy on the flight home–thinking about getting home to a cup of tea and my own bed.

    2. HARRYV*

      Agree. Even more so now with the tsa issues. I traveled once international and one domestic and collectively was away from my family for a whole month. My international trip it took me 31 hours from my house to arriving at the hotel!

    3. LBK*

      Yeah, my coworker always recounts the tale of being trapped at O’Hare for a day by snow on her way home from her first work trip. Our boss (who travels a lot) turned to her said “Remember this the next time you think work travel sounds fun and exciting, because this is usually what it’s like.”

    4. Important Moi*

      Thank you for mentioning having to be “on” from 8am-9pm. I would often return to my room, shower and be asleep be 10pm. I was mentally and physcially exhausted.

    5. bkh*

      I was an install guy, before I fell to the dark side and became an accountant. That meant fly in Sunday afternoon, onsite Monday morning at 0700 until 1700, back to the hotel, eat, and then spent 5 more hours reviewing the issues, checking the fixes, ensuring the scripts were up to date, writing bug reports, and status reports. Sleep. Repeat through the week and one day on the weekend, take a day off, and repeat again the next week. Fly home Saturday morning. I’d log 165 hours in 11 days, not counting travel.

      Tax season is quite relaxed in comparison.

      1. RandoTechPerson*

        I’ve already gotten over the “glamour” of work travel from a large-ish number of overnight jobs for a nightmare of a client. Absolutely ZERO planning for a project that’s been in the pipeline for over a year, so I had to KEEP going back to the same places to do & redo tasks that would have taken perhaps 20 minutes. But due to their lack of planning, and site security rules, they’re paying for 15+-hour days to get this stuff done. And apparently they’re thrilled! How can you even stay in business when you operate like that?

        My company wants me to start long-distance travelling for this client. Best part? They’re IN the airports!

  18. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

    “Here’s your gift card to Home Depot.”
    “What’s this for?”
    “It’s so you can buy the necessary materials to build yourself a bridge and then get over it.”

      1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

        Here’s one to the Cheese Emporium. To go with your whine! ;)

    1. Eh? Non Y. Mouse*

      If my vocal Haha! had been any louder I would have gotten strange looks :P

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think OP would build bridges by saying this to the complainers, though.

  19. OriginalYup*

    The policy is very normal and is very fair. People who travel get access to all kinds of other things too: frequent flyer miles, hotel points, allowable cash advances, etc. These are small niceties that offset the reality of their required travel, and help to make that part of their job more palatable. Someone who’s questioning the fairness of this isn’t grasping that the travel is a tool to get work done, not a perk.

    It’s like when I had a colleague who complained that it “wasn’t fair” she didn’t have a company card, unlike the execs. I asked her what expenses did she need to cover with a company credit card? She had maybe a $25 expense at Staples a few times a year. She just wasn’t getting the fact that a company card wasn’t, like, a bonus or a sign of trust. It was literally a tool that people needed access to for certain parts of their job, and her job didn’t need it.

    If it helps, think of it like other jobs at your company. Why does the receptionist usually get a more advanced phone at their desk than everyone else? Because they have to answer high call volumes. Why does HR get locked filing rooms? Because they need to store confidential paperwork. Why does the IT department get admin privileges to software? Because they need to install and manage it for users. It doesn’t make sense for everyone else to have those things.

    1. Chris*

      That last one though, ugh. That’s only fine if your IT department is fast and efficient. Otherwise, it often makes work grind to a halt when I can’t do things like update Java, or some other program that needs bug fixes

      1. Observer*

        That’s because the the IT staff get the same equipment as everyone else – and they get lower end equipment than the higher level non-tech execs. Because it’s “not fair” to give people different stuff because of their role, but it is “fair” to do based on seniority.

        So the guy who does some email and some light spreadsheet work gets a spiffy high end machine, and the guy who needs to do the testing on all the patches get the 3 year old hand me down.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      The timing of this comment entertains me. It was brought up in our weekly standup that So and So needed to borrow the corporate card to make a reservation for a company event, and the owner says to the VP of Ops to get So and So her own card because she’s doing more purchasing stuff, and oh, might as well get cards for everyone else (all 4 of us) while we’re at it so that it’s fair. In my head I’m like…I’ve been here four weeks, I don’t purchase, what do I need a company card for?

      1. E*

        And as someone who’s had to help in reconciling the purchases from all the company cards…I can verify that those who don’t purchase don’t need cards. By issuing them to more folks out of “fairness”, they’ve just created more work for the admin/accounting staff.

      2. Joseph*

        Not only might you not need it, depending on the size of the cost and your financial status, you might actually prefer not to have a company card.

        >The “Expense Reimbursement” form is the same amount of paperwork as the “Credit Card Purchase Justification” form, so no difference there.
        >No worry about it getting stolen/lost.
        >The cashback/miles/whatever rewards go to my personal credit card.

  20. Jillian*

    My first trip to Europe was for business and I needed to be in Frankfurt Tuesday , Wednesday, Thursday. The corporate travel office asked if I’d be able to go Saturday-Sunday; even with additional meals and hotel saved $800. Oh, sure, I was willing to make that sacrifice. I had four extra non-travel days with “nothing” to do; they even booked me in a downtown location so I could walk almost anywhere I wanted to go.

  21. jj*

    I’ve traveled for work extensively in my career, more so than almost anyone I know, and it’s amazing to me how much people who never travel for work romanticize traveling for work! Even when you get to stay in a fancy hotel or in a great location — you’re working 12+ hours a day, and you’re either alone or with coworkers, not with your spouse, family or friends.

    1. BenAdminGeek*

      The only truly great thing about travel/hotel life in my opinion is that I can leave dirty towels everywhere in the room, and someone else picks them up. It’s a little thing that allows me to feel like Louis XIV after a 12-hour travel day or 12-hours of meetings.

      1. SL #2*

        Don’t forget the fancy toiletries!

        I also don’t have cable at home, so ESPN in a hotel room is my favorite part about work travel.

    2. designbot*

      There is some benefit to getting that face time with your coworkers though. You develop an understanding and trust between you that it’s difficult for those who don’t go with you to achieve, especially when you’re travelling with more senior staff. I’ve been on both sides–I was jealous when my coworkers traveled with our boss and came back suddenly much more secure in their roles, and I’ve traveled with senior staff and felt the benefits of the chance to get to know them better and talk more closely than we had previously. While I understand that excessive or unexpected travel can be onerous, the time with colleagues or even bosses can be a subtle but big leg up.

  22. Green*

    I’ll occasional joke with someone who is getting to go to a conference in Hawaii (I got to go to one in Beverly Hills) or somewhere otherwise desirable, but as someone who formerly traveled quite a bit on the whole 5-star accommodations, it was a mild perk to stay longer, to get the hotel or travel or credit card rewards points, or to order room service and a fancy bottle of wine here or there, but it certainly didn’t outweigh the costs of boarding my dogs or taking redeyes or missing events I would have preferred to be at or time with my spouse. This is definitely something that people who don’t travel for work think is much more fun than it is.

  23. Pwyll*

    The cynic in me wants to respond to these complaints by saying, “You also have this benefit: you can take a trip during non-working time at no cost to the company if you wish, or you may also take PTO to take a trip at no cost to the company if you wish.”

    Taking this away is sort of a slippery slope in my mind. If we take this away, what is the next thing that goes because there is disparity in job duties? Should we take expense accounts away from travelling salespersons because the in-house engineer doesn’t get one? After all, it’s not fair that the engineers don’t get free food, but people who spend 5 full days per week on the road get a per diem! And what about auto reimbursement? The admin don’t drive for work, but why should they be excluded from fuel reimbursements?

    Honestly, the answer to these complaints is: “Different job functions have different compensation structures, different perks, and each come with associated drawbacks.”

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, my attitude would be “Okay, great, you can take these few extra days at the end of your business trip; in exchange, you’ll now work 6 days a week, 20 hours a day for 48 weeks of the year, like everyone else who gets this perk. Hope that was worth the $300 you saved on a plane ticket.”

  24. Artemesia*

    Oh this is one to stamp out the first time the whiners emerge. Business travel means lots of unpaid time in transit, being away from family or personal events, not having free time to do things you normally do weekends and evenings, as well as being tiring and involving unhealthy food choices. Getting to take a weekend in a place is small compensation.

    I would not entertain the grumbling and make it clear that petty whininess is not acceptable. This whole complaint is absurd and the idea of taking these perks away for no reason but whiners is horrific.

  25. KTB*

    I remember back in the day when I thought it was unfair that some people got to travel and “have all the fun.” I really did think that people were just faffing off to some fun city and had no concept of what conferences and meetings were really like. Travel is fun, to an extent, but I now travel several time a year for conferences and understand the sheer volume of work that goes on at said conferences. I attended three conferences in my hometown last year, and had about four hours total to see friends and family. Having a perk like tacking extra days on at the end or beginning of a trip is so, so nice, and really doesn’t cost anything.

    1. Always Anon*

      I travel pretty regularly for work, and we have a similar policy to the OPs. Some people who don’t travel think that those of us who do travel for work aren’t actually working. They seem to be under the impression that the entire trip is some sort of glorified vacation. I easily work 12 hours a day when I’m on the road, and often I don’t extend because I’m exhausted and no matter how great the city I am in the idea of spending one more day away from home is more than I can take.

  26. AMT*

    Yep, the answer to pretty much any “this doesn’t affect anything but it’s still no faiiiiir” complaint is, “What is your proposed solution?” Either you think the company should needlessly take away from someone’s enjoyment of their job, or you’re whining for no reason.

  27. LV Ladybug*

    My dad would travel to the Bay Area every week M-F then come home for the weekends. Sometimes my mom would fly with him, they would stay two weeks, and have the weekend in San Francisco. I am not sure what the cost breakdown was. I think my dad paid all flights and was reimbursed, meaning he had frequent flyer miles (late 90’s early 2000’s, easier to use.) I know they enjoyed this perk, and the company was big on families. I enjoyed it the most being a teenager home alone for the weekend.

  28. Jill*

    I wouldn’t have any patience for the OP’s non-traveling co-workers at all. I happen to have a primo Reserved parking spot close to the door of my work building. And people gripe about that. But the reason I do is so that I can park close to our Safety Officer station, since I have to staff after hours meetings that sometimes go late into the night.

    So, you can have my Reserved spot if you want to be here staffing boring meetings and walking out to your car as a woman alone at 2 a.m. Not all perks are as perky as they appear.

    I like the “what is your proposed solution?” response. Because really, what is the company going to do? Pay for a flight for an employee who doesn’t actually need to fly anywhere for the job?

    1. Limpy*

      I had some gripes about a primo parking spot right outside my building once.

      But then I told them I’d gladly trade my spot if it meant I got to be able bodied and able to walk the further distance.

  29. Brian*

    When I do this it almost always SAVES the company at least a little money. I use flexible dates option to choose which plane ticket to buy, and then I build my day or two off around what ends up being a cheaper plane ticket. If I wasn’t allowed to do this, it would literally cost my employer more because I would fly on fixed days at the beginning and end of a conference regardless of airfare cost. Sometimes the savings on a ticket are more than $100 by shifting days.

  30. Cochrane*

    Anything that the complainers don’t get themselves is a benefit in their perception.

    Corporate card is a shopping spree. Company travel is vacation. Work from home is a day off.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      I wish my corporate card equaled a shopping spree! Life really isn’t fair.

    2. Joseph*


      Ironically, if you actually gave the complainers some of these “benefits”, they would probably very quickly start begging you to NOT have them once they realized everything that goes along with it.

      Corporate card is endless paperwork every time you actually purchase something. Company travel is 12-hour days away from home. And so on.

  31. Kristine*

    I travel frequently for work– a minimum of one week a month, sometimes two or three! My non-traveling coworkers think my life is wonderful and exotic but the truth is its exhausting. I’m away from my husband a lot, often have to sleep on planes and wake up fresh for a meeting, and rarely get to see the city I’m in unless I extend my trip (at my own cost). The grass is always greener. :)

  32. Terra*

    Oh man, back in the day my dad traveled for work and since the company had to rent him a hotel room anyway they had a policy that if he paid for our tickets (which he could often get for free through miles) he could bring my mother and I with him. Apparently there were people who were livid about this because they thought he was living the high life with his wife and daughter when really he got to work long hours all day while my mom dealt with me me and then come home tired to a small child that was fussy from traveling half the time. It was nice for us because we got to go some places we wouldn’t have otherwise but people don’t always think through the logistics of what’s actually going on.

    Possibly if someone complains to you directly you could re-frame it as a passive benefit that their job also has different types of? Such as people who travel often have to work longer than 8 hour shifts whereas office workers have very set schedules?

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, my family tagged along with my dad on a couple of business trips. And that was pretty much always what happened–we never saw my dad and my mom was left wrangling two kids all day. My dad was also usually too tired in the evenings to do very much.

    2. Phyllis B*

      When I worked for the phone company I had to make one out of town trip (no air travel, only 100 miles away.) The room was being paid for and per diem for my meals/other expenses. I asked if I could bring my mother/children along as long as I only expensed my expenses. They said “Sure!!” so off we went. I went to my meetings and my mother took kids to the zoo or whatever. Then at night we went out to eat or do something fun, and it was great. But it was just a one time thing. If I had to do it all the time….

  33. Stephanie*

    Last semester, I took a class at my local state university. I was walking to my car and overheard a graduating student excitedly talk about his job offer with a consulting company. He was like “And I get to travel all the time and they said I could keep the credit card points!” I just kind of smirked to myself, having had friends who worked for that same company and hated it, thinking “Ha, he’s young. He’ll learn that constant business travel isn’t fun.”

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      The points thing is real, though. That’s a big, awesome perk to frequent work travel.

      My work travel was always back and forth to Indianapolis, so I didn’t rack up all that many miles (damn you, Midwest – being in the middle of the country means never getting longer flights with better planes and more miles!). But my colleagues who were going from NYC to LAX were raking them in. One former colleague just got back from a two week trip to Japan that he paid for entirely with miles and hotel points. He also spent two weeks in Hawaii last year; same deal.

      1. Oryx*

        My parents have a ridiculous amount of free hotel and airline points thanks to my dad’s frequent work travel, to the point they sometimes have to give them to my sister and I lest they expire.

      2. KTB*

        Agreed!! My husband travels from the PNW to China for work fairly frequently, and the points he had racked up paid for my flight (in business class!) to and from Japan for our vacation in February.

        And his flight was paid for by his employer, because he spent the five days prior to our vacation pulling 12 hour days in a factory in China.

    2. BRR*

      I have a friend who worked for a big management consulting company. Traveled every week and by the end of two years was miserable. People at my org get to travel once every other month to cool places and we get tons of vacation time. That seems ideal for me.

  34. Clever Name*

    My company requires frequent travel for most positions. No extending stays and no companion travel (even if they pay their own way). I’m one of the few non-traveling employees but we have a fairly high turnover when people realize business travel sucks.

  35. Jubilance*

    Work travel seems glamorous when you don’t get to do it often, and I wonder if it’s clouding the judgement of those who are complaining. In my first job, I couldn’t wait to travel and mine was relatively easy because I was traveling for recruiting events. Since then, my work travel has become work-necessary and it’s a BEAST. So being able to stay the weekend and relax, or enjoy a city is more than fair.

    The only time work travel was semi-fun was the 1 time I got to fly on one of the company private jets – now that was pretty awesome. But flying commercial? Totally sucks.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      I hope to one day get to fly on my company’s private jet. Apparently the onboard chef is amazing.

      Though, I got to go to a baseball game in the company box that everybody was raving about recently, and it was a little disappointing. The alcohol selection alone was just sad. I bet the jet experience would be similar.

    2. NASA*

      LOL, yes. My husband loves traveling for work…because he does it once a year! He totally finds it glamorous. I travel anywhere from 5-12 times a year and it’s just bleh at this point.

      Ooo, company jet! How fun!

  36. BRR*

    I mostly agree with Alison. I would not say the part about it saving the company money though. There are positives and negatives with business travel. My employer actively encourages employees to add on days (at their own expense) to help make up for a so-so salary. Yes travel is hard but this can be a way to soften the blow. I do think people who never travel tend to glamorize it but those who do travel tend to forget of any perks. I think in the end it needs to be explained that different jobs require different things.

  37. Anonymous Educator*

    I used to have a job in which I traveled many times a year (think 8+ times per year—yes, I know some people travel even more frequently than that for work, and I salute you folks!), and it was definitely not fun traveling. Could I have fun while traveling? Sure. Was the option to stay an extra day or two at my own expense (with the flight at the company’s expense) a perk? Sure.

    Would I rather have just stayed at home with my spouse and cats? Definitely!

    There may be rare exceptions, but most people I think hate having to travel for work, even if it’s to a “fun” destination.

    That said, if these non-traveling employees think traveling is so fun and exciting, I’ll tell them the same thing I tell non-teachers who think teaching is so easy because you “get the summers off”: if you think it’s so easy and wonderful, do it yourself.

    Non-traveling employee: envying the traveling employees? Get a job that involves travel. See how much you like it. I have a feeling you’ll be really disappointed with how you’ve romanticized the “greener” grass on the other side.

  38. Ann Furthermore*

    People who think that travelling for work is glamorous and fun are the people who have never had to do it on a regular basis. I travel quite frequently for work, and as so many others here have stated, it’s a gigantic pain in the a$$. Flying in general is a pretty wretched way to get anywhere these days. Then when you do arrive, it’s working 10-12 hour days, spending all of your time in a conference room. Then after the work day ends, there are the team dinners, and if you’re a person who needs time alone to unwind and decompress at the end of the day like I do, this feels like work too.

    Last year, during a particularly bad software testing event, after spending the day with a bunch of users so needy that they reminded me of baby birds, my co-workers wanted to go out to dinner. After the users left for the day I told them to go ahead without me, because I’d had waaaayyy too much human interaction that day and I really needed an evening alone. They understood and I was able to have an evening of blessed peace. These were co-workers that I’ve known and worked with for a long time, so I knew they’d understand and not be offended. But usually, you have to put on your happy face and go out to dinner with the whole gang.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      And yes…being “forced” to go out to dinner with co-workers definitely falls into the category of “first world problem,” but man, I just dread those gatherings.

      1. DoDah*

        I did monthly road-shows for a few years with the same crew of co-workers. I always took at least one evening of “dodah” time. Co-workers were cool with it.

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      Yes. You even factor in the amount of lost free time you spend planning and packing at home. I unusually spend a good two hours laying out outfits, getting them in the suitcase, decanting my shampoos… I don’t travel often so it’s not worth it to have a ready made pack all the time.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I’ve got it down to where I can be packed in about a half an hour, but that’s because ahead of time I’ve thought out the clothes I’ll need, how many pairs of shoes, etc. The other thing that blows is that it throws off your routine. On a good day I hit about 12,000 steps with my Fitbit, and bring in my own healthy snacks and lunch. But when I’m sitting all day long, eating heavy, catered lunches, I end the day feeling like a bloated lump. Sometimes the hotel has a decent workout center and I can use a treadmill, but sometimes not, and since I don’t know the areas where I stay, I’m reluctant to walk through the neighborhood. Ugh.

    3. SystemsLady*

      So true!

      When I travel for long periods of time, I very rarely have any time to myself. I did the math on my most recent obligation (“12 hours” on paper) and I would either have a sleep deficit or no personal time at all every single day I did not eat by myself. (Luckily, at some point we’d all done this math and reduced our group dinners significantly)

      That my destinations are only very rarely even close by to the types of places you’d go to take a vacation certainly doesn’t help.

  39. Anonymouse*

    I wish this was the policy at my workplace. If we extend our stay, paying the hotel ourselves, taking leave time etc, then we have to pay for the return flight ourselves.

    1. enough*

      I only think this should apply if your personal stay was for more than a day or two. I can see doing this if you’re taking vacation days and not going to be showing up to work the next business day.

      1. Colette*

        Why? Assuming the cost is the same as leaving the same day, why should the employee subsidize the business cost by paying their own way back?

        1. Immy*

          Sorry this is way late but depending where in the world you are it could have a tax impact as it then becomes a taxable benefit which would be taxed as salary. To get around the headache of calculating it they might have a rule like this.

    2. Emmie*

      Same here – even though our policy is rare. We are never allowed to stay over a Saturday even if the flight is cheaper for the company and we pay our own expenses. That’s a big downfall for current company. Prior company was like the other typical travel policies.

  40. Marvel*

    When I was a teenager, my family got to go to Hawaii for a week because my dad was invited to a conference there, which was great–my family was solidly middle class, but we lived in a very high cost of living area because of my dad’s profession, and consequently we never had the money to take expensive overseas vacations.

    I remember a few of my friends getting jealous, which really upset me at the time, because there was a massive lifestyle trade-off in exchange for (very occasional) perks like this. My dad traveled a lot, and was often gone for a week or so out of every month, sometimes more if he was working on a particularly intense project. The nature of his job was such that even when he was home he worked long hours and sometimes didn’t get home until very late. My mom would get really lonely. Things we’d planned on doing together would get put off and postponed over and over again. Family vacations couldn’t be planned too far in advance, and even when we successfully carved out a week here and there, my dad would usually still have to do some work (which my mom REALLY didn’t like, and they’d fight about it occasionally). He’d often have to take at least a few conference calls while we were in the car, for which my two siblings and I would have to remain very quiet for an hour or more, which was difficult when we were younger.

    My friends getting jealous then reminds me of your workplace’s other employees getting jealous now. They don’t realize how much frequent travel takes a toll on someone’s life outside of work.

  41. Chris*

    I have infinitely less sympathy once I saw that it was higher ups whining about lower people getting benefits. Dude, you make more money. Shut up.

  42. JAM*

    My employer has a policy like this and since we’re tiered in an obvious way we don’t have real complaints. My employer does make it clear to all of us who don’t travel though that we are welcome to book through their discount program to help make our own personal travel more affordable. It might just be the service we use that allows us that benefit and sometimes it isn’t the cheapest option but it’s nice to know our company is passing along a discount to everyone as part of our typical perks program.

  43. enough*

    “Different positions = different requirements = different pluses and minuses.”

    Life is never going to be fair when fair is defined as we all get exactly the same.

  44. Mena*

    Your company’s policy is very common and as Alison notes, travel is more hassle than anything else, which is why these types of flexibilities exist.
    I once worked for a company that would pay for Saturday night hotel plus $100 if you would stay over on Saturday night, which at the time, greatly reduced the ticket price.
    Please explain to the ‘grumblers’ that travel is a dirty, tiring chore and this is a small benefit to those whose jobs require it.

  45. TotesMaGoats*

    My BIL travels pretty regularly for his work. I’m still not 100% clear on what he does but it’s something with commercial insurance. IDK. He’s in London and Paris a couple times a year and in NYC maybe once a month or so. It’s meetings from the crack of dawn until very late at night. It’s not a vacation and it’s hard on my sister who has a hectic full time job of her own and they have a 4 year old. They’ve talked about one Paris trip that my sis might join him but she’d be exploring the city basically on her own while he works. While I’d take it, it’s not ideal. I think the only perk that he sees is that he’s gotten to eat at some pretty awesome places while abroad.

  46. Seal*

    Different positions = different requirements = different pluses and minuses.

    Amen to this!

  47. Carla Klein*

    Good answer. My best friend travels for work, mostly from NYC to Portland or LA, and after just eight months he’s starting to dread it. Most of the time he touches down at 11pm midweek and has to be at the satellite office at 7am for all-day meetings. A six or seven hour flight followed up by presentations and workshops for the next two days is physically and mentally draining. So, yes, his company allows him to stay an extra night to simply decompress/go see a concert/etc in the city or they’ll allow him to take a direct flight to DC at the end of the week to see his girlfriend. I think that’s a really considerate and appropriate way to show how much they appreciate his hard work.

  48. Gene*

    I work for a City and getting travel is not normal (at least at my level). Plus everything we do is under scrutiny (see the posts about paying for our own coffee, no City paid celebrations/lunches/team building things, and the like), yet this is perfectly normal for us. If I go to a conference, so long as it doesn’t cost the City more, I can stay there or go early.

  49. VivaL*

    I dont even consider this a ‘perk’ – it’s just a routine part of business I thought? Everywhere I’ve been it’s been standard protocol that if you want to do this, it’s fine. What exactly are they ‘getting’? It’s not free airfare – they would have gotten that anyway.

    Im seriously confused about the ‘perk’ here.

  50. Tomato Frog*

    Even if business travel was fun and games, this would be a stupid complaint. It’s not like taking away other people’s ability to extend their travel would suddenly improve things for the non-travelers. And if the whiners were thinking clearly, they would realize that they would much rather work for an employer who is willing to accommodate employees in such simple matters.

  51. MT*

    As someone who went from 5% to travel 80% travel this year, non travelers dont know how good they have it sometimes. Travel perks are nice, but don’t come near the greatness of sleeping in your own bed at night, or eating dinner with your family. Last minute travel sucks beyond anything imaginable.

  52. MT*

    One thing my company does do for non-travelers is do a team meeting site visit someplace nice once a year or every other year. It gives the non-travelers a chance to get out and get a little bit of the perk.

    1. stevenz*

      But if you do it only once a year everything about it has a mystique that regular travel loses very quickly. But if it keeps them satisfied, fine.

  53. Allison*

    I’ll echo the others, what you see as a “free” flight so they can explore the city is, if anything, there to offset the personal cost of having to travel for work. And besides, they’re getting that flight whether they come home right away or take an extra few days in the city, and the return flight might be a little more expensive but probably not that much more.

    Either way, the fact is that some people in some jobs get perks that others don’t, and some people’s jobs have them go “above and beyond” what’s expected of the average 9-5 office worker. Some get a small travel perk in exchange for work travel. Some people in the office might get more flexible schedules while others have to be on more strict time tables to meet customer needs. Some people get to leave at 4:30 and unplug from work while others need to be “on call” while at home, and have to come in on weekends and holidays to take care of this or that. You can only hope that when someone’s job requires them to travel, or put in overtime, or work weekends, there’s some kind of equal trade-off.

  54. Noah*

    Do these people also complain that their boss gets the unfair perk of a higher salary?

  55. AndersonDarling*

    My cousin is a project manager and travels for 90% of her job. Sounds great? Well, when you have a year long project and you are personally tied to its success, then you don’t get to use any vacation time. She earns 5 weeks of vacation a year and she gets to use a few days of it. The rest of the vacation is lost, gone, see-ya.
    So there’s a nice big perk for desk jobs- you get to actually use your vacation time.

  56. Wheezy Weasel*

    If you don’t travel for work, your perks include:

    – The freedom to make a telephone call from a private location during the daytime hours and not the airport, client’s hallway, Starbucks in the hotel, etc
    – The ability to stand up and move around from your desk vs. staying in an airline seat for 3+ hours of the day
    – Chatting with your colleagues about work business on an ad-hoc basis rather than scheduling a phone call, trying to track them down via chat programs, or calling 5 people’s desks to find a real person
    – Bringing your own food and drinks to work and eating them on your preferred schedule vs. attempting to find your preferred food in an airport, dreary interstate in the middle of nowhere at 11pm, or with a limited supply of appropriate food for someone with a food allergy or intolerance.
    – Using your preferred mode of transportation: personally-owned vehicles vs. a rental car, subway or taxi
    – Knowing the exact location of where you’re going each day and how long it takes to get there, vs. leaving 3 hours early to avoid unknown traffic and arriving 1.5 hours in advance of a meeting
    – Using your regular workday to get work done vs. trying to complete a compressed, email-filled workday on top of 8 hours of client meetings in a strange city
    – Sticking to an exercise routine vs. broken hotel treadmills or 12+ hour days which don’t leave time to exercise

  57. NotAnotherManager!*

    God, I hate the fair = same brigade. I have had to deal with so, so many of these often petty complaints over the years. Someone threw a hissy fit about not getting a second computer monitor once, on the basis that someone more junior had one, and I pointed out that that person was was working on a long-term, shitty project that practically required the second monitor to perform effectively — but, if they were willing to help with said shitty project, maybe we could provide a second monitor for the duration of the project like we had for Junior Coworker. Interestingly, they declined.

    I also used to have upper management that insisted that not treating everyone the same would result in morale problems and, at worst, discrimination lawsuits. What really happened was that the smart, rational people who could comprehend that different job = different requirements = different perks often got the short end of the perks stick (because everyone was treated the same based on the lowest ranking position), and a lot of us left because we got tired of being treated like children who couldn’t be trusted to work without archaic rules and direct micromanagement and our actual job requirements not being considered when creating policy. Policies that actively blocked work or disincentivize work don’t help.

    1. newreader*

      I’ve become unpopular in some circles at work because I don’t believe that equitable = equal. Each staff position or category is going to have it’s own set of pros and cons and it is not reasonable to expect everyone to be treated exactly the same. Fairly, reasonably, and professionally – most definitely; equally – not at all. If I want the perks associated with a different position, then I’d better do what it takes to move into that position. And also be willing to deal with whatever cons comes with that position.

    2. TuxedoCat*

      Story about the sameness brigade. One of my coworkers complained that I got to travel so much so my boss relented and let her go to the same conference as I. The difference, though? I always give a talk at a conference, and my coworker did not. Even better, the coworker ditched most of the conference to do who knows what; we were not in a fun area. The only reason I know she ditched is because she literally had nothing to say about the conference or people she met, just used filler like “amazing” and “inspiring” when asked and couldn’t say more when asked for specifics.

      All in the name of treating us the same.

  58. Recruit-o-Rama*

    I travel 50% – 75% of the time and business travel is for the birds. The way I delineate between work travel and vacation travel though, is by not bringing my laptop and checking my suitcase when I travel for vacation. I always carry on when I’m traveling for work.

    I also have all my free drink coupons from all my business travel that I never use because I get off the plane and get into a car to drive when I travel for work. I use the drink coupons on my vacation trips.

    I frequently extend my work trips on one end or the other, sometimes my husband will fly in and meet me for the weekend. We get a cool little weekend getaway and only have to pay for one flight. I consider it the consolation prize for spending so much time away from him. This is not against our company policy and there is no way I would accept a job from a company that didn’t allow this. I do love the perks of airline miles and hotel points, and I remind myself of this when I am eating my 10,000th meal of crappy hotel bar food in Kansas in February. the thought of taking my family on a fun inexpensive trip on the points gets me through the night.

  59. TootsNYC*

    Point out to them that being flexible like this is sort of like allowing the non-travelers to stop at Home Depot on the way home. It’s not really your employer’s business what you do with your private time.

    Or allowing them to pick up a candy bar for themselves when they go to buy office supplies. It’s not really that big a perk.

    And at least THEY have a short commute; people who travel work for have one heck of a commute!

  60. animaniactoo*

    “It’s not fair”

    “Are you willing to travel to a different location every other week be away from home for half the year, and train people who have no idea what our product does?”

    “No? Then don’t complain about a free-to-the-company side benefit they get for being willing to do that.”

    “Yes? Good to know, are you interested in moving here within the company when a position opens up? You know the job pays $20k less than you’re making now, right?”

  61. Beth*

    I don’t get it. Do the non-traveling employees want the same perk? How will they use it if they are…NON-traveling employees? Or they don’t want the traveling employees to have that perk? In which case, what a bunch of downers.

    1. TootsNYC*

      “How will they use it if they are…NON-traveling employees?”

      Well, the company could allow them to use their PTO immediately after their work assignment ends, at whatever place in the world they are when it ends. And the company could say, “we won’t ask you to pay us for your travel.”

      That’s called a staycation.

    2. kraza*

      While I 100% understand that this whole envy thing is silly and petty and there really is not a reason to accomodate it, I can imagine a small amount of additional PTO to be an option. Especially since while salaries increase, PTO usually doesn’t, and especially especially because Americans get so little leave compared to other countries.

  62. steeped in anonymtea*

    I sat in the Dallas airport for 8.5 hours yesterday and got to my hotel at 1:30 AM. Then, a full work day. If I get a perk that costs nothing, I deserve it.

  63. Liz L*

    When I worked in law firms, a lot of assistants and support staff complained about low(er) pay and boring grunt work while lawyers complained about long hours and difficult clients. The way I saw it, neither really wanted to do the job of the other, but there was a lot of “grass is greener on other side” mentality. And I too once thought travelling for work was glamorous until the one time I had to do it and a typical 9-to-5 day became 5am-to-9pm day. I never saw work travel or anything related to it as a “perk” again.

  64. Road Warrior*

    Hey, there is a very easy solution. To those “grumbling” about NOT getting this “perk” – feel free to travel for business anytime!

  65. TootsNYC*

    I kind of wish Alison had bolded this part of her answer:

    “don’t get drawn into feeling like you have to convince people to agree with you.”

    Too often we feel that if someone complains to us, we have to make them happy. We have to explain, we have to justify, and we aren’t allowed to walk away from the conversation until we’ve persuaded them to agree with us.

    To our OP–get out of the conversation as quickly as you can.

    “Interesting that you object! This is a very common policy, actually, especially since it doesn’t cost the company a single cent. Excuse me, I’ve got to get that TPS form filed.”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have done this quite a few times. It works well. “Oh, it’s pretty much common practice through the industry. There’s nothing unusual going on here.”

      It’s a good solid answer that does not make the questioner feel stupid.

  66. SystemsLady*

    This whole answer is great, and it applies to so many other things.

    If you want comp time and don’t think it’s fair your co-workers get a lot of surprise time off where I work, for example, you’ll have to stop expressing a preference for avoiding irregular hours entirely and complaining to anybody who will listen every time you get them. (There’s more to this rant, but I’ll sum it up with: grr)

    I can understand feeling guilty if you personally benefit (heavens knows I’ve had trouble dropping that feeling), but you have to keep in mind that work travel is an inconvenience and this perk rides directly on top of it. Sure, you can get free mini trips off of it, but you’re not ever booking the dates or destination on your own accord like somebody paying for their tickets would get to do.

    It’s really only a reasonable complaint if the root is another problem in the workplace (Cersei always gets the San Diego assignments everybody covets and there are multiple clients/not a specific reason she in particular covers those, etc.).

    I remember there’s a part of me that would love to earn a bunch of airline miles and credit card points off of my job, for example, but that I’d gladly take rarely having to fly and having a company card over the inconveniences that lead to those “benefits”.

    (…I do enough short distance travel to get a bunch of hotel points, though. Those nights add up fast in a good way!)

  67. stevenz*

    Let them know that the “perk” of travel is done on the employee’s own time even though it’s directly work-related. He is not being compensated for the time away from family, late flights, long waits at security, and if the plane goes down, he dies. Incidentally, the time spent working when away from the office often, if not usually, means very long days, working over breakfast, lunch and dinner, and being highly visible to clients, customers, and peers.

    Yes, there are some nice things about business travel, and I have taken full advantage of those, but you have to ask yourself one question, “Where would I rather be?” The answer is almost always “home.”

  68. Anne*

    Different positions = different requirements = different pluses and minuses.
    I am a teacher. I am so tired of people who complain about teachers getting the summer off. When I hear this, I often think to myself, “Why don’t YOU change careers and become a teacher if you are so jealous of our summer vacation?” Also, many people do not realize that the majority of teachers work much more than 40 hours per week when school is in session. Do you honestly think that a 50 minute planning period is enough time to cover lesson planning, test grading, contacting parents, faculty meetings, department meetings, and covering for other teachers?

    In many locations teachers do receive checks over the summer. However, teachers are actually only paid for working 36 weeks per year. Instead of receiving the entire salary during those 36 weeks, most school systems divide the salary by 12 months = 12 checks. During the summer months the teacher is receiving money S/He HAS ALREADY EARNED. There are so many people who refuse to understand this.

    I have also thought to myself, “What is your solution?, Do you want your children not to have the summers off? Do you want to raise taxes to extend the school year beyond the basic 180 days?”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      A sad fact is that this is one of many stories about teaching. I have several teachers in my family and after listening to their stories, I decided never to become a teacher. The straw that broke my camel’s back was the part about paying for classroom supplies out of my own pocket. nope. nope. Our system needs rethinking.

    2. Rey*

      Summers off are the one small, sad perk of college-level teaching, too. I’m an adjunct, so I have no benefits, no job security, no pay for any of the work I do outside of the classroom, and no opportunity for advancement. But I get summers off!

      …so I can work a seasonal job…

    3. Kyrielle*

      Not to mention continuing education/certification has to be done some time – and of course the salaries are kind of sad so there may also be seasonal jobs – but no, let’s go on imagining teachers lying about on the beach *all summer long* or going for grand hikes across Europe.

      Because man, I hope that at least occasionally happens, given all the other downsides of the job.

      Y’all are awesome, and the crap we saddle you with needs properly addressed at a societal level.

  69. stevenz*

    Then there was the time I had meetings in Germany. After a nice dinner everyone gathered at the bar for more drinks and smoking (ugh!). By then, though, I had had my fill of liquor, second hand smoke, and the company of my lovely international colleagues and just wanted to go to bed. It was about 12:30 am when the coordinator came over and said in her soft German accent “can we meet for just a couple of minutes?” At 2 am she said, “maybe we should continue this in the morning.” (I wanted to scream “it IS morning, you…”)

  70. SleeplessInCO*

    I travel quite often and do fairly physical work, at least for 6-9 months of the year. It’s fun the first couple of times, but after that, you have the time zone changes; exhausting navigation challenges (getting to – and through – the airport when you just wanna go home is itself a layer of fresh hell); unusual schedules/routines on the road; most likely crappy food; and trying to keep pace with your coworkers back home, all of which can get truly overwhelming. And yet, no one – myself included – would ever admit to secretly hating traveling for work, lest we miss out on a particularly cool trip. But, by and large, that much travel can fatigue you to the very core.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I totally admitted to it, which is how I transitioned to much less travel than I’d been experiencing, and then gleefully took a job with none. The next particularly cool trip can wander down the hall and affix itself to a coworker, please. ;)

      But yes, as long as the positives are positive enough, the negatives are tolerated. That doesn’t mean they aren’t negatives!

  71. Walter Sobchak*

    Oh boy. I travel on average over 25% of the month (some months close to 80% depending on contract renewal timing). As most people say, the romance wears of VERY quickly. Coming in to the office directly after a red eye flight in economy? Yup, been there done that. Routinely take early morning flights (i.e. before 7:00 AM) to make it to the client’s office for morning meetings? Of course, this usually goes without saying. Late night dinner/boozing sessions with clients when all you want to do is sleep? All part of the job.

    I was born with wanderlust, so business travel generally suits me well, but there are significant drawbacks. I miss a lot of my son’s school events, and it’s real tough on my wife to take care of our young children when I’m not around (4 year old and 6 month old). And as most people say, when your traveling on business, you are generally in a conference room somewhere, not at a fun cultural/sightseeing spot. Yes, I do know I’m lucky to see some amazing cities, but the majority of my travel takes me to places like Wilmington, DE or Indianapolis-nice people there, but I’d venture that the locals would be hard pressed to them glamorous.

    In short, when I think of business travel, its usually a sleep deprived sprint through meetings where you are counting down the minutes until you get home and collapse into your bed (after checking your frequent flier mileage balance of course).

  72. Corporate Drone*

    As someone who has worked in consulting and been a “road warrior,” I can say that this is not even a “perk.” Many times, the company saves money on the airline tickets because the cost of the ticket goes way down if there is a Saturday night stay. At most, it costs the company nothing. Let the whiners whine. Excessive business travel is exhausting and tedious. Take away the ability to tack on personal time, and it will lead to a peasants’ revolt. Just ask people whose companies confiscate their frequent flier/hotel points.

  73. Elizabeth West*

    This reminds me of the adults who threw a huge fit over a Harry Potter-themed event at their local libray that was meant to introduce kids to the library options, or something similar to that. They kicked up such a fuss over not being included because they were HP fans too that the library cancelled the event. So the kids got nothing. The focus of the event wasn’t even Harry Potter.

    These employees need to grow up. To take the perk away because of their whining would be unfair; the perk itself is not.

  74. Kdt*

    The engineers who don’t travel also probably get “perks”. I think it’s a great “perk” not to have to use PTO when I am sick – contagious but able to function – because I can work from home. It’s also a perk that I can run errands during the week sometimes and finish up work on the weekend.

  75. LawBee*

    I know this is old, but this sentence: “And even if you travel to a cool location, you might only see conference rooms and your hotel.”

    YES. I have a conference I attend in Vegas every year. It’s essentially all week, eight hours a day, and historically has had a mandatory firm meeting at the end of it, which we all hate except the people calling the meeting. My friends and family think I’m a big whiner for hating this trip, but it is terrible. Eight hours of meetings in a conference room, substandard food, and the flight back and forth from my city is draining. If I could skip this thing, I would 100% for sure no doubt.

  76. Pist Off*

    You said nothing about company travel that INCLUDES spouses and other family members, for about HALF of a 20 person business office, leaving the other HALF to pick up the others’ jobs. And ALL paid for by the COMPANY, not the individuals or family travelling to HAWAII or LAS VEGAS. Not only Exclusionary, besides being fully taxable to “NON working spouses”, still paid for airfare, hotel, food, entertainment, cab fares, surf lessons? Hula dance lessons? There is so much spending going on in the name of corporate business (i.e. tropical vacations), so address the TRUE issues here.

  77. Granny K*

    I thought people who traveled on business were SO privileged. Until I started traveling for work myself. I realize now that any little perk biz travelers get, they deserve. People who don’t travel for work don’t realize that companies don’t pick up the tab for boarding one’s pet. Or additional childcare. Or the extra work hours (if you work on salary): all the work at the office still needs to be done, even if you aren’t there, which means being at the conference/tradeshow all day and then answering emails, etc. at night.

  78. Diane C*

    Arghhh! Sorry, part of me just wants to slap those complainers silly. Their romantic ideas of “fun” cities are ridiculous. Besides the points that have been made, the biggest thing they’re missing is a total blind eye for the travel time and the difficulties of “business” jet lag. Yes, business jet lag is a thing. For example, I spend my Sunday flying across the country to be at an 8:00am meeting on Monday. It may “only” be 10:00pm when I get to the hotel, but its 7:00pm my time and I can’t fall asleep. Then they schedule a mandatory 7:00am breakfast. That’s 4:00am my time, which means the wake-up call is at 3:00am. Then there’s a mandatory dinner program. The next day, same thing, all damn week. Then the conference ends on Thursday, and I get booked on a late flight. I finally get home well past midnight my time (3:00am in the time zone I’ve just left) and I have to report for a 7:00 am conference call Friday to review the results of the conference. No thanks. Save your money people and get your revenge by retiring early. Then you won’t have to deal with such idiocy.

  79. Chrissy*

    I have never held a job where I traveled and it sounds like it is very tedious doing so for work, but if an employee can tack on extra days and treat it as vacation, this is something I hope people would take advantage of! My company lets our travelers take advantage of these same perks and I love knowing I work for a company who does this. I’ve never felt slighted or left out. I didn’t chose to apply for a job that involves travel. I like working for a company who thinks of their employees and helps them to take advantage of available perks. The employees who do are still having to take their available PTO to tack on days, so “picking up their slack” on their days of PTO usage is part of my job. I am a person who loves, loves, loves to travel, so I live vicariously through my coworkers until I take my own trips. I recently just returned from two weeks in Paris. If anything, my company has motivated me to want to take a position that involves travel, just so I can take advantage of the perks, making my vacations cheaper. For me, I hope the tedium of work travel would be worth it for the vacation afterwards. I don’t like work perks being taken away from anyone, even if I’m not specifically benefiting. When there is an attitude of “I can’t do this and I don’t want other people to either”, it can make the work place a demoralizing place to be as the company starts cutting everything that’s a benefit, in the name of fairness.

  80. Molly*

    My work travel sometimes takes me to Hawaii, where I spend long days in a windowless conference room! By the time I might want to tack days on before flying home, I realize I would rather be home with my family then on my own in “paradise.” Sometimes I’ll leave a few hours later so I can take a hike or put my toes in the sand, but even the luxurious destinations are far less fun when you are alone!

    1. somebody blonde*

      My father always said that being on a plane for a business trip to Hawaii was the worst feeling in the world. Everyone else on the plane was dressed in Hawaiian shirts and was super excited to be on vacation, and there he was, in his business suit with his briefcase on his lap, knowing that he’d be instantly sticky from the humidity when he got off the plane and have to go right into meetings.

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