should I consider a job that requires 75% travel?

A reader writes:

Should I even consider a job with 75% travel required?

First off, it’s true that I am desperate for employment right now. I need a job yesterday and have been a nervous wreck over the lack of job leads in my area. This job is a promising lead, but I’m worried about the 75% travel required. How do I know if I’ll like working in a job that keeps me away from home that often? It’s for a state court system, so I’m not even sure why I would be traveling.

I really enjoy being at home with my boyfriend and our dogs and cats. I enjoy seeing my family often. I’m worried I would become incredibly homesick and miserable. I’ve traveled for work before. A week here, a few days there, and it was no problem at all. Exciting even. But I was always happy to be back home.

What should I consider before accepting something like this? What kinds of questions should I have about this requirement before considering it? Any advice or warnings?

I don’t think you should apply for/accept this job.

75% travel is a lot. We’re talking about being away three weeks of every month. It will almost certainly have a significant impact on your relationship with your boyfriend. You will see friends and family far less. (And maybe even less than you think, because that one week a month when you’re home, you’re likely to be exhausted and not jumping to go out and see people.)

There are some people who thrive on travel-heavy jobs, but they are people who specifically enjoy traveling a lot — and business travel in particular, since business travel is generally much more grueling than recreational travel. But the majority of people would really struggle with this much travel, and I think you’re in that majority.

To be clear, if the idea excited you, that would be totally different. Some people react that way when faced with the possibility of this much business travel. But everything you’re saying here points to that not being you.

I hear you that you’re feeling desperate, but it’s okay for something this significant to be a deal-breaker for you. Obviously that calculation changes if you’re on the verge of real financial disaster, but if you’re able to keep looking, I’d keep looking. (Plus, if you take it and you do end up hating it, the fact that you’re away from home most of the time is going to make it even harder to look for a different job.)

{ 112 comments… read them below }

  1. Kix*

    Don’t do it. I like traveling and I had a job that was 60% travel. I ended up being home only on weekends, and frankly, all the travel is exhausting. It’s not like fun vacation travel.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      That was my thought – don’t expect that 75% travel means 3 weeks of traveling and 1 week home.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        Yup. 75% travel for me was 5-8 weeks away, 2 weeks home.

        If I was lucky, I was at a client site that was within a 4hour drive, so I could pop home for a few weekends, but often it meant at least 5 weeks away from home.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          For jobs that have a high percentage of travel, it can also mean an impact on your weekend. For some consulting companies, 75% would mean flying to client site on Sunday, and flying back (possibly a red eye) on Thursday. If you do this, make sure you are clear on what 75% actually means.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            Oh! That’s a good point!

            We would often have 8am Monday morning meetings, which meant flying out Sunday. Or I would have to work until 5pm on Friday, which meant I couldn’t go home until Saturday.

          2. Tuxedo Cat*

            And that’s assuming your flights don’t experience any delays or cancellations.

          3. Sarah*

            Work in my field is often 60-75% travel. It usually means driving out Sunday. And travel home is on Saturday approximately 1/2 the time. It’s close to 100% travel in the spring and summer. I agree with everyone else that it may not be evenly spread, and at least in consulting they may consider your weekends fair game, in order to have you on the client site for the normal workweek.

    2. Charlie*

      Yeah. Go watch the movie Up In the Air for a little clue. It’s not fun, it’s not relaxing. It’s terribly lonely to be in an anonymous business hotel by an airport when you know your family is at home. You’re eating crappy chain-restaurant food and piling on the pounds, you’re waking up at 3am to catch the early flight all the time, you’re constantly sedentary, you’re constantly in and out of airports. I only had to do it for a few months and it was unbelievably awful and stressful.

      Traveling for work occasionally is great fun. 75% travel would be crushing.

      1. Doc*

        That movie is an inspiration to me. It makes sense.

        Loneliness is relative. I find peace in sleeping alone every night and having personal relationships that are distant at best.

        There are some of us who have gym memberships that work around the country and actually eat healthy while out on the road.

        When my kids leave for college, my intention is to be out there, somewhere for at least 44 weeks out of the year.

        Traveling for work is a lifestyle in and of itself. You’ve probably already made up your mind sometime ago, but for the next person who’s thinking about it and sees this, maybe they might think about it.

  2. friendlyposter*

    Wait — 75% travel doesn’t necessarily mean 75% overnight travel. I have seen employers use that designation when the employee will be required to travel in-town a lot. Maybe it is sloppy to do that, but they want to eliminate candidates who can’t drive. A state court job might involve a lot travel between courthouses in that state, but depending on how big your state is, that might not be a big deal.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yes, I reach out and explore that possibility – or if you can’t reach out before the phone screen or first interview, explore what *kind* of travel first.

      I agree completely with Alison if it *is* overnight travel, though. But if it’s just “you will be all over the flipping state every work day” – if you’re home every weekend, if you’re not home too late every night, then it might be a different question. (Be clear on whether driving to the first and from the last site counts as work time, be clear on how many sites in a day average/peak, and make sure you can deal with it – but still worth exploring.)

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      This was my first thought. I could see there being occasional overnight stays, and a lot of day travel to and from courthouses. OP shouldn’t give up on this job until he/she knows the exact nature of the position– and anyway, why worry now? There hasn’t even been an offer made.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I’m thinking the same think, Lemon Zinger. If it’s a state court system by definition it won’t be out of state travel, right? The job may just require driving to a different court house each day, most of which are within an hour of the home office. Or it may be Texas…..

    3. AFT123*

      This was my first thought as well, especially for a state court position – I’d probably go to the interview and get clarification on the travel. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was largely tooling around town, with maybe a few day trips, but likely not many overnights. If you enjoy driving and being autonomous, this kind of setup could be really nice!

    4. Belle*

      I had the same thought. It could be that the job is traveling locally and not require overnight stays away from home. My current job is technically 50% travel, but it only goes to different worksites to work with employees and managers. I am home every night by 5 — though my travel is tracked for reimbursement purposes.

    5. LawCat*

      Yes! This recently came up in an interview for me where I explained I had left one position because of the large amount of travel and the interviewer noted there may be a lot of day trips in the position I was interviewing for, especially in the beginning. This let me clarify that it was the overnight travel that was the problem (I actually did enjoy day trips within my geographic area, which this would be.) Definitely get more details.

    6. SophieChotek*

      Yes, this was my thought also. I have a friend that works for the state court system/state social worker–she has to do a lot with getting people into state facilities/institutions, and her job *might* be considered quite a bit of travel–it can mean driving 3 hours to another city in the state and getting paperwork/release papers/court papers delivered/signed and transferring a patient between places, and then she turns around and drives back; my impression is there is not a lot of overnight stays though. She also might have to drive to 3-4 hospitals a day and do paperwork…so I could see where she might be told she has 50% or more travel, but she usually home in the evening, although some weekends she’ll be on-call 24/7.

      Just a thought; agree with others about another way to think of it.

      If as friendlyposter wrote it was more that scenario–would that be a dealbreaker?

      1. Cafe au Lait*

        A friend’s first job out of college was 50 or 75% travel. It was for my state’s court/social work system. She’d pick kids up at their foster care housing and drive them to the supervised visiting facility where the child’s parent was waiting. She’d supervise the visit, and then drive the child home.

        The hours were pretty normal (9-6, I think, with some weekends). Other than feeling that some days she lived in her car, and comforting upset children (explaining that they couldn’t go home with Mommy, they had to go back to foster care), she really liked her job.

      2. Elsajeni*

        Good point — I have a friend who’s doing a similar job currently, working with clients in state institutions, and while she works long hours and spends a lot of time in her car, she’s home most nights and every weekend. It’s still true that that kind of travel can take a toll — I think there have been times she’s driven from Houston to Dallas and back in the same day, which I would consider basically torture — but if the OP’s main concern is homesickness and being away from home entirely for days or weeks at a time, that would be less of an issue with in-state short-term travel.

    7. Cookie*

      Agreed. I applied for a travel heavy state job that simply meant that the office was in the state capital, but you were responsible for visiting all the counties on a regular basis. The maximum travel distance would’ve been two hours from the capital, so even if “overnights” were expected, you could return home in theory.

    8. Pwyll*

      +1 to all these comments. In my state, the judges (and some staff) rotate from courthouse to courthouse. So, certain staff may be sent to courthouses all over the state throughout the work week, but there’s no overnight travel. Still quite exhausting though.

    9. Joseph*

      Yeah that was my thought too. As others have pointed out, there are plenty of jobs that require lots of “travel”, but it’s all around town or to various sites and doesn’t actually impact anything in the personal life – except that your car is messy with various work documents.

    10. Dynamic Beige*

      I read Just Mercy a while ago (I think someone on here recommended it?) and that was one of the things that struck me, he was traveling in his car *a lot*. Part of that was because he was practicing law in two states, but part of that was because the state prison seemed to be a few hours away from his office and his clients couldn’t come and meet with him. So, it is possible that 75% of your job could be driving to a prison two or three times a week, there and back, with no overnight stay.

    11. Florida*

      I agree with this. I would apply for the job. During the phone screening or first interview, ask them what 75% travel actually means. Then you can decide from there.
      If it’s 75% overnight travel, I wouldn’t do it. If it is 75% driving around locally during the day, that’s probably fine.

    12. Jeanne Lundell*

      If it is a state position, there is most likely no travel out of state. They may be referring to many day trips to outlying towns and cities. I would definitely get more information. It may not be the job for you, but it may not be as bad as it sounds.

    13. sam*

      I was going to say the same thing. 75% travel is *definitely* a LOT, but if it’s a state court, it could very well be something like this, and it might be at least worth trying to get clarity on the issue before ditching the opportunity altogether.

      I mean, my best friend worked for a state court, and I can guarantee that state courts are definitely not known for being generous with either overtime or things like hotels – for all we know “travel” could mean going back and forth 20 times a day between the judges’ chambers and the courthouse (which can sometimes be in different buildings) to retrieve files.

      1. Bunny*

        My job is out of the office almost all the time, and I love it. No one watches me. I’m a very independent worker. But it’s all driving, from story to story, and I’m home every night.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        Two jobs ago the position I had was advertised as “heavy travel”. What that meant was that I checked into the office at 8:00 am, then got in my car and drove around to a series of insurance offices, then drove back to the office at about 4:00 pm to get some paperwork done and to let the owners see me [basically, to prove that I’d been doing my job, but that didn’t bother me].

        There was no overnight travel, and I had a blast being out on my own all day and talking to a bunch of different people. (My schedule was such that I’d visit the same offices every 2-3 weeks, so they wouldn’t get too tired of seeing me). Too bad it paid barely more than retail. :-(

    14. INTP*

      Yeah, I considered this. At the least, any overnight travel should be fairly short distance (unless you’re in a gigantic state), so weekend trips home on extended assignments would be possible. It’s also a possibility that, given that it’s a government job, 75% travel is the highest you’ll hit in a given week or month, not the overall average, and they just want to make sure to advertise the upper limit so no one can contest their travel assignments or have the position as 75% on paperwork for budget reasons or something. (In private industry, OTOH, the 75% figure could refer to a slow month.)

    15. Chris*

      Exactly, I would get clarification. I once had a job that was probably 90% travel, but that entailed driving for about 7 hours a day on a route.

    16. AF*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. The job posting should really clarify this, though, but the OP should ask.

    17. Jaydee*

      Yeah, the types of travel I can think of in a state court system would usually be more short-term or short-distance travel. Like in a rural area judges, court reporters, and other court personnel might rotate between counties. So you might be officially assigned to county A but spend 3 days a week travelling to neighboring counties B and C. Or you might rotate every few months. You are home every night, but 75% of the time your commute sucks and you’re expected to carpool with other court staff. Or, you might have a statewide position that requires frequent trips to courthouses throughout the state but rarely requires you to stay overnight more than a few days.

      I would say to at least pursue it to the point where you can find out more about what the travel actually entails.

    18. doreen*

      Yes, 75% travel could just mean you spend 75% of your time away from your “official work location.” I’ve had jobs where I spent that much time away from my official location without leaving NYC and its suburbs more than once or twice a year.

    19. stevenz*

      This is true, but traveling around the state means driving, not flying, and that means an awful lot of time in the car. And whose car? Yours or theirs? Often, travel time is done on what otherwise would be personal time. Driving from Minneapolis to St Paul, for example, would be fine. But driving from Minneapolis to, say, Pipestone is a very different matter. (I don’t know why I’m picking Minnesota for my example…) You’d be doing six hours of travel *on top of* whatever business you need to do at the destination, and you would feel like you normally do after a six hour drive. And sometimes it snows.

      If you’re in Rhode Island, OK, not as bad.

      You want to get a better definition of “75%” and “travel” before you apply – if you do. Good luck, especially on getting a job with more civilized requirements. :-)

    20. Asker of the Question*

      Hey, thank you for this comment. You hit the nail right on the head! I have since been told that it’s “mostly” day travel, a night or two overnight “every so often when needed.”
      What makes me nervous about this is that I live in a state that is about 75% rural. Over half of the state doesn’t even have ACCESS to broadband.
      I am in the exact center of the state, so there are plenty of places where I could drive for four or five hours, spend 2-3 hrs getting needed information/training, then driving 4-5 hours back home.
      Obviously, that would still be very exhausting. But, I could go home.

      In any case, it may not matter. I was supposed to hear from them this week. They’ve pushed it back to next. I’ve heard this line repeatedly by now. Our economy must be terrible right now. No one seems to WANT to hire, despite putting out job ads.

      We have to move because we can’t afford rent anymore (how we’ll afford moving? your guess is as good as mine, lol). I may end up having to work retail or fast food for a while.

      It’s so surreal and upsetting. I’ve been in my career for over 13 years. Laid off three times (totally unavoidable due to company cutbacks) and I’ve always bounced back super quick.

      This is different. We are drowning and I’m not sure how we’ll make it.

      Thank you everyone for the comments, I really appreciate the advice. :)

      1. AccidentalSysAdmin*

        It is interesting that you asked this as I am working for a state judiciary. The travel is during the day; you can leave for that day’s site just as you would to the local office you are based out of, if that is how it is set up. Look at the laws in your state about this but in this one it is highly regulated for travel and overtime outside of 8-5 and all the travel is reimbursed. I feel strongly about looking professional but was told travel days can be casual dress in this role.

        Frankly I have enjoyed the autonomy, flexibility, and working with teams remotely and in person. Get clarity on the scheduling. Check it out.

    21. Laura*

      This is true. I had the chance to write a job posting for a job I was applying (it was an odd contract position). I put in a comment about being willing to drive and travel. It passed HR scrutiny because there was time away from the desk and required the ability to drive. However, it really meant drive to locations within a 20 mile radius of the office a few days a month.
      If it’s truly 75% overnight travel, it doesn’t sound like OP would enjoy it. However, do ask for clarification before writing it off.

    22. Engineer Woman*

      Great information here about local travel. It didn’t occur to me. It seems OP should definitely move ahead with at least understanding more about what type of travel – assuming that local / non-overnight travel is acceptable.
      My travel experience for a few years was “only” 25-30%, but it meant roughly 1 week of travel a month and destinations were mostly 2-3 hours (flight times) away with approx. 3-4 times a year long-haul (12-15 hour flights). But the prep for overnight and especially overseas travel is high (acquiring visas, packing, reserving hotels and transportation) and not included in the “travel time” per se. Very very different situations. Happy to learn about different types of travel.

  3. Mel*

    Go hear them out. You don’t know what “travel” means. Maybe it’s just lots of driving or short distance travel which could allow you to be home more often than you think. who knows? My dad has this type of traveling job- day trips and he’s home every night. You won’t know until you find out more about the job.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Yes! Alison’s answer is good, but I feel like she missed a clue (state job) that this travel may not be overnight. It’s probably not hopping on a plane since intrastate plane travel in often not worth it for many states.

    2. H.C.*

      Ditto; also, I’m currently picturing 75% travel as going to other courts/offices other than the one the OP will be based at — so it can mean visiting a court one short drive over, or overnight stays at far-flung places. That depends on the state (& its size) and how its court system is organized.

  4. Not Karen*

    You would know by your gut reaction whether or not you could stand this job. Clearly your gut reaction is No. My gut reaction happens to be Sign me up!

    Note that “travel” could be anything from extensive international stays to driving around the state. If there’s a chance it could be just the latter and you’d be fine with that, you might apply and ask for more details during the interview.

    1. edj3*

      I’m with you, Not Karen, but we are kind of the outliers. I loved being a road warrior (75 to 100% travel) but know most don’t care for it the way I did and would. That’s not a bad thing, either. That’s a know yourself situation and choosing not to sign up for something you’d hate.

      Personally I hate long driving commutes, which I realize sounds weird. I’d rather go on long haul flights any day compared to driving more than 30 minutes to my job. I have had a couple of long commutes and hated them.

  5. hayling*

    Alison – since there is a question about what “travel” means, would it be reasonable to call/email the organization and ask for clarification before applying?

    1. Florida*

      I would apply, then discuss it in the first interview. Remember, the interview process is for you to interview them as much as it is for them to interview you. I think it’s annoying to pre-interview them before you apply for an interview.

    2. INTP*

      Not Alison, but as a former recruiter, I would say to apply. IMO it comes off a bit presumptuous to call with detailed questions before you’ll submit an application – like it’s worth the HR person’s time to answer your questions without knowing that you’re a viable candidate, but it’s not worth your time to put together an application without knowing all the details about the job. It would be fine to ask about this during the first interview, though.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I would say no – because there’s nothing else about this job that OP thinks is great other than “I need one”. If it were that the OP otherwise thought it would be a good fit, that’d be one thing.

  6. K.*

    I agree that finding out what “travel” entails – if it’s just that you’ll be offsite a lot, that’s one thing. My former colleague’s husband is in a sales role so he travels a lot but his territory is pretty local, so he’s not typically gone overnight. If it’s all overnight travel, I would give it a hard pass. I had two business trips back to back at my last job, with one day in between, and I hated it. (So did my body – the trips were each in a different time zone than the one I live in – one domestic, one international – and I was exhausted when I finally got home for good.)

  7. BRR*

    I think first you should decide whether you would 100% not take the job if it was offered to you. If no, you might want to interview and inquire about the travel, especially since you’re not sure why the position needs to travel. For a state job it just might mean you’re out of the office a lot of the time during the day (and for this I’d also consider the size of the state you’re in).

    But you don’t sound thrilled about the thought of travel and unless you really need the job I would say you should probably pass on this.

  8. Collarbone High*

    Is this an online ad where it looks like the person posting it has to check boxes in multiple categories? (Experience level, % travel required, etc.)? It could just be a mistake if travel seems unlikely. I’ve seen lots of ads like that, where someone clearly just checked the wrong box. Also possible that, as friendlyposter said, it means travel within town. Could you apply and then, if you get a phone screen, ask about the travel?

  9. Jennifer*

    I travel 80-100% for my job. I am not a person that would typically fall into a category of someone who “thrives off of travel”… but it has worked out well for me. It helps that I work 4 ten hour days, and my travel rarely keeps me away from home over the weekend. Every weekend is a three day weekend. I am married but we do not have children. I think if you had children this might be a much bigger deal.

    It really does depend on the specifics.

  10. Sibley*

    I used to travel 60%, however that worked out that it was about 80-90% during our busy season.

    It’s EXHAUSTING. The travel time is exhausting. You tend to work longer hours, because what else are you going to do in the hotel? You’re eating out all the time. You’re always out of your comfort zone. Living out of a suitcase. Being sick when you’re travelling is so much worse. Even a minor cold, never mind anything major.

    Then when you are home, you’re tired. But you have to do laundry, pay bills, clean. If you have pets, take care of them and try to give them the attention they need. Anything that doesn’t have to be done – isn’t. Friendships go by the wayside. Relationships? Good luck. Kids? Better hope you’ve got good family nearby, because you won’t be there. You don’t have food in the house because it’ll just go bad.

    Before that job, I liked travel. Now, I would much rather stay home, and it’s been 3 years. I still don’t like eating out. I would rather not eat dinner than go to a restaurant a lot of the time. Even the people LIKE travelling get burned out by it after a while. It just takes them longer.

  11. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Ditto to what everyone else here has written above. Double-check about what “travel” really means.

    Your letter reads like you are a bit of a homebody, so, on the strength of that, I’d be cautious about accepting this if I were in your shoes.

    Other thoughts:
    Otoh, I get being nervous about needing a job and, if you do take on something like this, approach it with a curiosity about everywhere you travel to. I mean, I sometimes travel for work (not as much as I would like to, I actually enjoy work travel) and often the places I go aren’t exactly typical tourist destinations. Industrial places, some urban, some not. Pretty anonymous hotels. Etc. So, knowing that everywhere has a history, I make a point of using my “off time” during the travel to learn more about the place.

    Example: I had to do a job in Buffalo. In the winter. On the lakefront. Not a very glamorous location. Arrived by train, walked to hotel that was also w/in walking distance (for me, I like a stroll) to job site, didn’t bother renting a car. Had planned to just use hotel restaurant for food as my job schedule was going to be demanding for the week and outdoors, so I was expecting to be tired. First meal told me I would not survive the week without losing several pounds due to not wanting to eat lousy food. I made a few calls (back in the days of phone books) and found a restaurant that sounded appealing. Second meal, I got in a cab at the hotel and gave the driver the address of the restaurant, quite a ways from the hotel. On the trip, asked him questions, he liked answering, long story short, by time we arrived at restaurant and I arranged for him to pick me up after my meal was over, I also had decided this was “my driver” for the week and I took his advice on further places to try and paid him for essentially tours and history lessons about Buffalo in the 20th century from his perspective every remaining evening. It was great. Everyone else I know who travels for work and enjoys it has some similar hobby that works with the nature of the job.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      What you said about the attitude you bring to the travel is so important. My first post-college job was in college admissions, and we did a lot of travel, especially in the fall. Some places were glamorous (London! Brazil!); others, less so (Jacksonville! Cincinnati!). Honestly, though, I loved even my domestic travel, because when else am I going to go to Cincinnati? I also made it as easy on myself as I could: I stayed in the same chain of hotels every time, so new hotels felt less unfamiliar. I did a lot of research during my planning to find restauarants or things to see. I was gentle with myself and reminded myself that it’s totally okay to spend Friday night watching Netflix in your sweats, even if you are on a trip somewhere new. And I was vigilant–obsessive, even–about hand sanitizer.

  12. Lia*

    I worked for 6 years in a sales position that was 80% travel (4 days/week), but it was mostly day trips, with one overnight every other week. I was based from a home office. My territory was about 2-3 hours in a circle around my home.

    Like the others have said, it depends on the specifics. There will be an extra amount of recordkeeping in terms of mileage/tolls/parking, more than likely, and if you’re using your own vehicle there may be insurance considerations as well as wear and tear. Also, I found that there were some expenses I did not account for, like eating lunch out pretty frequently (because I’d often be between sites then). Also, if you will be working from a home office, you may need additional computer/internet equipment if you’re required to maintain certain security settings with the files you’re working with.

    I’d personally go to the interview anyways! Good luck to you, OP.

  13. AnotherHRPro*

    As others have said, you need to find out what they mean by travel. Questions I would ask:
    – What would be the typical length of each trip? One week long trip to a single location is very different than 3 short trips back to back.
    – Where specifically will you be traveling and how far away is that? Travel can often include “day trips” which would mean you still get to spend your evenings home in your own bed. There is also a big difference between frequently traveling 200 miles away vs. frequently traveling 3,000 miles away.
    – What type of travel will you be doing? Here you need to find out if you are talk driving, taking the train or flying. Each has pros and cons, but you need to understand which will be most typical because they are all very different experiences.
    – Will you frequently need to travel on weekends? With some high travel jobs where you are going long distance you may need to give up a Sunday here and there.
    – Will you be traveling alone or with other co-workers?

    1. Mel*

      I would ask about job duties and limit the travel questions. You can get the same info but too many “travel” questions is going to raise red flags for the interviewer.

      1. BRR*

        I don’t know if I would say it would raise red flags for me but I can see too many questions that are this specific about just the travel component as off putting. I would start with a general can you tell me about the travel for this position and if that doesn’t give you a good picture of what’s involved ask maybe one or two follow ups. The LW is likely to have other questions beyond travel. The general question should hopefully answer these questions which I do think all need answers before accepting an offer.

      2. AnotherHRPro*

        I agree. I should have been more clear ask I didn’t mean the OP should actually ask all of these. I think most of these would be answered in conversation with a few follow ups.

  14. SunshineGirl*

    I’m a former road warrior, and I took a job that was about 75%-85% travel under similar circumstances: I was desperate and needed a job. But I was also fortunate in that the job was with a company I respected/admired and it aligned beautifully with my professional background.

    There’s no two ways about it: business travel is grueling. Exhausting. Frustrating. Nothing worse than wanting to get home on a Friday after a long week in Some City, USA and finding out your flight is delayed. Or cancelled. That’s just one example. I had fun, though, too. I got to visit some places I’d never been and that I’d never expected to find so lovely and charming. I met some cool people. And I liked the actual work I was doing, so the job satisfaction was high. I also racked up the airline miles and hotel points, which definitely took the edge off vis-a-vis upgrades.

    I was fortunate in that my company recognized that road warriors have a shelf life — it’s a rare person who can handle the demands of so much travel for a long time. I was eventually promoted to a management role about 18 months in, which allowed me to get off the road. So you might explore the culture at the company you’re considering — do they expect their road warriors to stay road warriors forever, or do they recognize that there’s a limit to how much traveling one person can reasonably be expected to handle? Are you interested in what the company does? Does the job align with your professional goals/passions?

    All in all, I’m grateful for my road warrior experience, but I don’t think I would choose to do it again. (Last year while returning home from a vacation, I remarked to my traveling companion: “I can’t believe I used to get on an airplane EVERY FRIGGIN’ WEEK!”)

    That said, I can still pack a suitcase in under 30 minutes. :)

    1. Jules the First*

      We used to give an annual prize for most destinations in one year, one month, and one day. I won the latter one year (I still hold the record, I think) having flown Kiev to Zurich in the wee hours of the morning, driven into Austria for a site visit, back to Switzerland for a lunch meeting, flown to Paris for dinner with clients and then home to London, getting home just before midnight.

      I also pack a mean carry-on – a few years ago I spent a week in Canada visiting my Mum in the mountains and then a week in Hawaii with just my 35L compact carry on and my handbag. In February.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          The only circumstances in which I would accept a job that involved “75% overnight travel” would be if it were by blue police pox. ;-)

    2. Marillenbaum*

      What were your best tricks? I used to do a fair amount of business travel, and my big thing was that I saved every single packing list in Evernote with tags for destination, length of stay, and the types of weather and activities, so I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.

      1. Jules the First*

        Travel with clothes that you love – they should fit you, pack well, and be versatile (nothing goes in my bag unless it can be worn with three other things) but you should love wearing them.

        Rolling is your friend (if your wardrobe can handle it), and Eagle Creek’s ultralight packing cubes (and their clothes folders, if your wardrobe won’t roll) are a godsend – keep your clothes and underthings tidy and handy but out of sight when you open up your single bag at security or your first meeting and they take hardly any space.

        The other trick, which I learned from a female boss who travelled constantly, is to have a set of kits that you keep fully stocked and ready to go. I have a toiletries kit (an E.C. quarter cube with travel nail kit, brush, comb, toothbrush, mini-sewing kit, pocket first aid kit, tampons, etc, plus a regulation plastic baggie with liquid toiletries) that is always packed in the bathroom cupboard; there’s an electronics kit with spare chargers and cables for everything I travel with, plus country-adapters, spare headphones, spare batteries, a mini-flashlight, and a mini roll of gaffer tape, ready packed in an E.C. quarter cube in my desk; and then there’s a zippered pouch with my passports, travel insurance details, pens, pencil, luggage locks and keys, travel kleenex, individually packed wet wipes, and a set of small zippered pouches each containing a useful currency in bills and coins plus local transit card or tokens or a card with phone numbers that are useful in the location (I keep one for euro, one in US dollars, and one in Canadian dollars).

        Between my known travel wardrobe and the travel kits, I can be packed and out the door in less than 20 minutes. The money you spend putting the little kits together you will save in hassle and cost by not having to replace things you forgot on the road.

  15. Library Director*

    I agree with others who have suggested that you clarify what travel means. Also, there is something to be said for getting your foot in the door with a state system. I had a friend who was offered an accounting job for our state at an office two hours away. All her other friends advised her not to take it. I said, ‘Get in the system.’ A year later she was offered a position at the office 10 minutes from her home. That job was only open to those who already had at least a year’s experience in their particular department. She says the only drawback was loosing her “me time” driving.

    1. LQ*

      I think it depends on the state, but yeah, in my state this would be a big deal. Getting into the system especially if you are dependable and excellent, it becomes really easy to transfer around within the system. This may vary based on your state so if possible I’d see if you can talk to someone who works there currently.

      1. JessaB*

        Yep, and it can take forever to get in, in the first place. If you have an in, you get priority for promotions/transfers, etc. and the pay may be a little lower but the benefits are usually really great.

  16. Kristine*

    I am currently in a job with 50% travel (was told max 10% when I joined). It’s awful. I miss my husband and cats terribly and haven’t seen many of my friends in months. My eating and exercise habits are bad because I don’t have access to a kitchen and my “off-time” is spent at business dinners or on a plane and I’ve gained noticeable weight since my travel requirements increased. And my sleep schedule is so messed up. If you are hesitating about travel in the slightest, never take a job that requires that much.

  17. Jules the First*

    I just turned down an interview for a much better paid job because it was 35% travel!

    I’ve had two jobs with significant travel – both to fairly glamorous places…job number one was one day a week in Paris plus other European travel at least a few days per month, job number two was two weeks in London followed by two weeks in NYC. I hung in for eight years at job one, job two I lasted three months. Even staying in the same apartment all the time in NYC and travelling on weekends (no kids, no pets, no partner) it was just brutal.

    1. Pwyll*

      As someone who would like to do a 70-90% travel job for a year or two, everything you just said made me NOPE. Overseas flights multiple times per month? No freaking way.

      I’m exhausted thinking about it.

      1. Jules the First*

        It sounds insane, but you do get used to it (my grandboss used to spend ten months a year on the road going from city to city every few days, but in August and September he camped out in a little village in Spain and we flew his clients and our staff to Spain instead). Constantly moving in the first job was easier than trying to divide things between just a couple of places – I left the second job because splitting my life between cities was driving me nuts (I couldn’t get the hang of which weeks were where, so I’d keep booking things in one city when I was in the other). And then a year or so after I left job two I got fondled on a plane, so I don’t fly for work these days if I can help it since I can no longer sleep on planes…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          fondled on a plane? What is the matter with people. I hope you were able to press charges.

          1. Jules the First*

            well, in fairness I think I’d flown a couple of million miles without incident, so while it does happen it is super rare (I have definitely been groped more frequently on the subway, for example). And it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as traumatic if not for some crap in my history. But yeah. I don’t sleep in front of strangers.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            Someone I know was flying to Europe and was seated near an Indian woman, with the middle seat free. When my friend woke up, the Indian woman had curled up on the seats and put her feet in my friend’s lap. My friend removed the feet from her lap and went back to sleep. She woke up again, feet in her lap again. Eventually, she just gave up and left them there. No idea if the feet were bare or not.

            I think if you fly enough, eventually every story you’ve ever heard about what happened to someone on a plane will happen to you.


    state court system, so I’m not even sure why I would be traveling.

    To me, this sounds like most of your day will be traveling the city/county/state for day work. Travel meaning working away from an office. Not overnight, out of state or overseas. I think first and foremost you need to ASK. If you’re invited to interview, that’s when you can find out if the job is right for you and if you’re right for it. It seems a bit curious to me that you don’t even understand the position and are already worried about this requirement when you havent properly vetted it.

    If you’ve already been offered the position then I am further confused that you still dont understand what this means.

    But due to the nature of the job, I don’t think travel means anything more than maybe making house visits, working at the courts and not a desk, moving clients about, etc. Something of that nature.

    Why don’t you ASK???


      Now of course (state court system) in a large state, California or Texas or somewheres could mean overnight/flights etc… however I still think you need to ask. lol. I’m a bit baffled why you haven’t if you’re applying/have applied/interviewing/have interviewed.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Well to be fair to OP, if they’re in the process of deciding to apply or preparing for an initial interview (as in, it’s been scheduled but hasn’t happened yet), there’s really no appropriate opening to ask.

        If they’ve been interviewed already, then yes they need to ask. But don’t ask before applying.

  19. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I got an update to this post from the OP last night, after it was too late for me to change my answer! She wrote:

    “I’ve spoken with the hiring manager. He seems like a great guy, and he explained that most of the travel is during the day. However, since I live in a state with a LOT of rural areas, I won’t have an option but to stay overnight sometimes.

    I have the same worries about the overnight travel. However, I think traveling during the day would be wonderful. I wouldn’t be stuck in the office everyday, all day, and that’s something that tends to dull my motivation.”

    So that does definitely change things. (I went ahead with the post as it was because no time to change it and because I figure it’s still going to be useful for other people.)

    1. Library Director*

      Thanks, that seems logical for a state position. I was thinking about this. My son is a runner for a law firm. His job would be correctly described as 90% travel, but he is home every night. He travels between counties, to banks, clients, etc. He loves it because he’s home, but he’s rarely in the office.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        God, I loved being a law firm runner! I got paid to drive around all day and listen to NPR, and if I wanted to pick up a massive Diet Dr. Pepper from the burger place near the courthouse, no one cared. Seriously, the best summer gig I ever had.

        1. Library Director*

          He does too. He went from fine dining cooking to a 9-5 job where he’s busy but very independent. He likes audiobooks and his driving time gives him plenty of time to “read”. He also gets to interact with more than the same 5 people all the time.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Given this update, it seems like OP still needs to go into this with eyes wide open. That’s not an insignificant amount of (presumably) driving around rural areas that would make some people really unhappy. But given that it’s only overnight sometimes and she badly needs a job, that could tip the balance. Not an easy answer, but the job at least seems worth considering now.

    3. INTP*

      I think solo travel, in-state, even if you have to stay overnight, is much less grueling than what a lot of us think of as “business travel.” (An uncomfortable flight during hours you’d normally be relaxing or sleeping, meetings all day, mandatory fun over dinner with coworkers or clients, and if you’re lucky you get back to your room by 9 or 10 pm. I have great travel endurance and enjoy that road-weary feeling but I couldn’t handle the sleep deprivation in normal business travel.) Even traveling during the day is not for everyone, of course, but I’d urge the OP to consider it if the job is otherwise appealing! (Just make sure mileage is compensated if you live in a state where that isn’t a legal requirement.)

    4. The IT Manager*

      It makes sense, and I think I’d love it. While I don’t love driving, I love podcasts and audiobooks and look forward to long trips for the opportunity to listen. Heck, I think the best thing about plane travel is the opportunity to read or listen while waiting around and in the air. For e, trip planning included considering what book and audiobooks to bring.

    5. Gene*

      Yeah, it depends on which state the OP is in. Rural travel in Ohio is a Whole Lot Different than rural travel in Utah or Montana. Back east you can’t go 20 miles without going through a small town, out west you can easily go 20 miles without seeing another car (I once tracked it in Nevada, we drove 68 miles without seeing another car.) One side of Ohio to the other is under 200 miles, one side of Montana to the other is almost 700 miles.

    6. De Minimis*

      My wife once had a job like that, it involved mostly day travel, but was in a large state and her territory was a lot of rural counties [one of which was huge.] Generally she only stayed overnight for the more remote areas [she would plan on doing multiple site inspections during a two day period and then return home.]

      Even though the overnight travel was minimal, it was still pretty draining. It was common to spend at least a few hours a day on the road.

  20. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    In my previous role I traveled 50%. Most of my travel was to one other location, so I ended up essentially splitting my life between two cities. It wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be; I really loved the second city I was in, and as a person who enjoys solitude I even enjoyed having more time to myself while I was there (without my husband and friends, I spent much more time just reading and chilling out).

    I see from Alison’s update that this job is pretty different from my sitatuion, but in case it’s helpful I’ll lay out what felt hard for me:

    1) Because I wasn’t consistently in town, I couldn’t make any ongoing committments – singing in a church choir, taking a community ed class, joining a book club, volunteering with a local shelter, etc. That was probably the hardest part for me; I couldn’t really “live into” my community at home.

    2) It was super hard to manage my (labor) contributions to the household. My husband and I constantly had to renegotiate everything from regular household chores to social/emotional work (spending time with sick family members, remembering birthday cards, etc.). It also felt like I had an unreasonable amount of this kind of stuff to do when I was in town, because it was crammed into that time instead of spread across the full month.

    3) I threw away a lot of groceries. It’s just hard to plan for being in town for a week, then gone for 10 days, then in town for 12 days, then gone for 4. I imagine this would be even harder had I lived alone.

    4) It made having a dog not feasible for us, given my husband’s schedule (and would be nearly impossible had I been single).

    I’m sure there’s more. That’s what I remember now!

    1. Jules the First*

      God, yes – I’d forgotten about the grocery bills! You think you’re saving all this money because work is covering your food costs while you’re on the road, but you really don’t!

  21. Biff Welly*

    Just as others have said, worth it to find out what kind of travel it actually is. (I see from the update it seems more day trip type of travel).

    I find this question amusing because I would love to find a position with a significant amount of travel. I love traveling to different sites and meeting new people (I have travelled as a trainer before). I think being a road warrior would be awesome (although I know it has its challenges too).

  22. Audiophile*

    I looked at 100% travel positions for marketing agencies. Even though I don’t have kids or a partner, the idea of being away from my bed for that long was a little too much.
    Plus I discovered what it would pay and it really wasn’t worth it.
    As others said, there’s a difference between overnight travel and day travel.

  23. ashleyh*

    My current job was explained to me as 10% travel, which didn’t sound bad. I don’t mind traveling, I like working in airports (I don’t know why but the hum and noise around me makes me focus better), and I love getting free airline miles for when I want to go on vacation.

    However, my 10% travel is being gone for a couple nights a week, every week, for two three-month periods. It is SO draining! My last job required a week away a few times a year and that was so less draining that the constant back and forth to the airport that I have now. The length and type of travel make a big difference, IMO.

  24. Ellie H.*

    I think a lot of whether this appeals to someone or not is timing. At this point in my life I’d honestly love a job with heavy travel – not forever, but for a while. I live alone but am moving out of my apartment in the fall, leaving grad school and job hunting, am seeing someone long distance so that wouldn’t make a difference, I always lose weight when I travel, I’m a great (light) packer and I just really enjoy traveling. I wish I were in one of those professions that required it but I’m pretty sure they all require more extensive professional training, being in business or law or something like that.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Not necessarily. Admissions and Development for higher education can require significant travel–although for development, they’re not going to just turn you loose to travel to major donors without having significant prior experience/knowledge.

      1. Ellie H.*

        So ironically, my field is actually higher education administration (what I was working in before grad school, doing temp work in now and job searching in), but I have been reticent about trying to go for admissions or development – I just don’t think I’m cut out for the development thing as I have a ton of opinions about university financial underpinnings, and same with admissions. I have considered the latter though for exactly these reasons, and I have a few good friends who worked in it at my former/current temporary employer – however I have even stronger opinions about how the college application and admissions system is flawed and could be reformed, and I feel it could be soul-sucking in a lot of ways. (My fantasy is to write a book about all this stuff some day.) I do love most of the day-to day experience of working at a university so maybe the travel thing will have to stay a fantasy for a little while.

  25. Borgney*

    People who like travel jobs are a special breed. I had a 80% travel job that morphed into a 100% travel job, including international. I loved it and would go back in a heartbeat. However, I am the exception not the rule. Don’t make yourself miserable. Keep looking

  26. Rubyrose*

    Companies usually underestimate the amount of travel by at least 10%. At least that amount. Don’t do it.

  27. Steve*

    That’s why, despite being recently appointed to a position that will require 130+ days of travel per year, I am glad my wife works with the same organization and will be accompanying me on a fair number of those. The kind of crappy part is that I will be based in the UK because of work related education and she will be back here in the US pursuing some training of her own.

    I love travel even if it’s “work travel” rather than the “fun vacation travel”. I always manage to squeeze in a day or two extra at the end of the trip unless there’s something truly pressing going on that requires me to be elsewhere. There’s a certain advantage to traveling on business that is not just stereotypical “business”.

  28. Consulting Wife*

    Don’t do it. I travel a lot compared to any other person I know – I’d say about 30-40% travel. But my husband is a consultant for a big 3 consulting firm and he’s gone M-Th EVERY M-Th. He’s been doing this for several years and our marriage is really suffering as a result. No kids yet but … we’ll see if we make it through this.

  29. Asker of the Question*

    Hey everyone, thank you for the responses. Some of you hit the nail right on the head! I have since been told during a phone screening interview that it’s “mostly” day travel, a night or two overnight “every so often when needed.”

    What makes me nervous about this is that I live in a state that is about 75% rural. Over half of the state doesn’t even have ACCESS to broadband.

    I am in the exact center of the state, so there are plenty of places where I could drive for four or five hours, spend 2-3 hrs getting needed information/training, then driving 4-5 hours back home.
    Obviously, that would still be very exhausting. But, I could go home.

    In any case, it may not matter. I was supposed to hear from them this week. They’ve pushed it back to next. I’ve heard this line repeatedly by now. Our economy must be terrible right now. No one seems to WANT to hire, despite putting out job ads.

    We have to move because we can’t afford rent anymore (how we’ll afford moving? your guess is as good as mine, lol). I may end up having to work retail or fast food for a while.

    It’s so surreal and upsetting. I’ve been in my career for over 13 years. Laid off three times (totally unavoidable due to company cutbacks) and I’ve always bounced back super quick.

    This is different. We are drowning and I’m not sure how we’ll make it.

    Thank you everyone for the comments, I really appreciate the advice. :)

  30. Wren*

    heh, I’m nearly finished a book written by a pilot: Skyfaring, by Mark Van Hoenacker. He worked in consulting before becoming a pilot precisely because of the heavy travel: he liked flying that much. He eventually realized that becoming a pilot wasn’t a pie in the sky fantasy and he could actually do it.

  31. Ash*

    Are you sure its not that you’d have to use your car to get to different courts every day? That wouldn’t be so bad – sort of sounds like consulting? Does the description say anything more about the travel?

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