People often balk when I say the company doesn’t pay for my travel despite me going on business trips – and it’s true, I often end up paying for my own accommodation on top of the company’s assigned hotels, and on occasion I’ve even flown overseas to do work on my own money as well.
Lately I tried what retrospectively has been my most ambitious travel plan to date: spend 4 days in Sydney, fly back for the weekend, leave for Bandung the following week and then get to Vietnam within 24 hours of landing in Singapore. Six flights, two weeks. Eight hours in the sky on my last week. It was incredibly challenging,
Our Sydney trip was in the aisles, but on the flights to Bandung and Ho Chi Minh, I happened to get the window seats, capturing some precious sunsets and lovely evening scenes, 40,000ft in the air.
14 July 2017, SIN to SGN
This month alone, I’ve paid for stays in Eastin Grand (Ho Chi Minh), Sheraton Towers (Bandung) as well as Hyatt Regency (Sydney). I rarely enjoy myself holidaying – while I enjoy the time away from work having the time to read and generate ideas about how I can build workplaces that talent can thrive in, I realize reading can only get me this far, and I itch to put my ideas into action. So I miss work, a lot, when I’m away from it. Speaking of which, my ideal holiday is staying in a hotel and potating, eating good food, enjoying warm baths and room service. As such, when I travel for work trips I tend to top-up the excess for a 5-star hotel (usually after deducting the allowance of S$30, that’s about S$50-S$90 more per night) and either extend my stay or spend no time at all in the city and all my time in the hotel instead.
If that’s the case, people ask, why do you still travel for work? You do HR, there is no real pressing need for you to go, isn’t it?
Yes, it’s true, but see, the therapeutic value of travel lies in the flight for me.
14 July 2017, SIN to SGN
I’ve always loved being in cars, in planes, in buses. In fact, I used to take the long way home from school, walk an extra 20 minutes just so I could reach a bus stop and take a long meandering ride home. I hate driving, but I love being on the roads alone at night. And that’s the same way with planes – I love being on a plane, I love being in the airport alone, the feeling of pure autonomy, the delight I take in being at a place so full of opportunity and aspiration, knowing that everyone who passes by is a stranger, being receptive to serendipity and connections that could well stretch the globe over. There are few moments in everyday life in which I feel better than when I’m walking through an airport, browsing duty free, enjoying a simple cup of coffee, backpack filled with daily necessities and 18″ cabin luggage filled with my most comfortable clothing. I have my Adidas Stan Smiths on most days, and a jacket for warmth. I feel like I have everything in the world I need to make it my own, and that is one of the most fulfilling emotions I can possibly enjoy.
So.. in the next few years, while I’m out chasing the biggest dream I have allowed myself to dream, I won’t compromise on travel, won’t compromise on the enjoyment, fulfilment and relaxation I get from these business trips, or the occasional retreats. It’s important to save and strive, but equally important to create joy. If those moments are on a plane for me, then I’d jolly well get on a plane every month, shouldn’t I? 😉