Karikari Beach, Northland

Why I love work travel and won’t quit my day job

Today was a bit of a jolt back to reality with a fairly an early start to fly to Whangarei for work. Bye, bye grey windy Wellington day. I’m heading north of Auckland to Whangarei and hopefully a sunny 28 degrees.
Travelling is one of the highlights of my job and I have been lucky that quite a few of my roles over the years have included quite a bit of domestic travel. Here are some of the reasons I love travelling for work and I won’t quit my job to travel the world full time.

Travelling for work gives you inspiration

I love travelling for work especially if I can fly. Flying is inspiring. I always have my notebook handy as this is when I can think, write and try solve the problems of the world. My best ideas and strategies have their origins on flights.
West wing quote - inspiration for work travel
Sometimes I talk to the person next to me. Usually on the way home. Generally I find that in the morning the business crowd is busy reading, preparing for the day ahead of them. On the way home in the evening, the suits are more talkative, more relaxed. I often get to meet new people, swap business cards and occasionally that has been the beginning of a productive working relationship. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to make those connections if I was stuck behind a desk everyday.

You get to visit new places that aren’t on your bucket list

Work trips are how I have seen some of New Zealand’s more underrated destinations. My very first work trip, many years ago now, was to Invercargill at the very bottom of the South Island. Invercargill isn’t really a tourist destination. It’s more the hopping off point to Stewart Island and one of New Zealand’s Great Walks (which we did 2 years ago and I highly recommend!). I got mocked when I said I was going to Invercargill but it was kind of fun and I still remember it fondly. In fact a couple of years ago we saw cheap Grabaseat fares and did have a weekend away in Invercargill. It included plenty of Bluff oysters (the world’s best oyster).
Since then it feels like I have been to the 4 corners of New Zealand for work. I regularly go to Northland (often as far north as Kaitaia), the East Cape, and Taranaki as well as many points in between. I even went to Kaikoura soon after the earthquake late last year.
Kaikoura landslide
One of the many landslides after the Kaikoura Earthquake November 2016. Fortunately the road south has been cleared and you can drive into Kaikoura

New Zealand is a stunning country. I have seen it first hand whether travelling for work driving around the East Cape from Whakatane to Ruatoria via Opotiki or flying over the Cook Strait to Nelson.

Tikitiki Church with strong Maori influence and design
Tikitiki Church on the East Cape – I never would have known to stop by and see its beauty and Maori influence had I not driven past for work

The nature of your interactions are different when you’re working

When your working you definitely see different things and have a different lens than when travelling for pleasure. I am meeting community leaders. I meet people who are passionate about their community. They are real and I have to establish a relationship with them rather than a well-meaning but transient encounter that I find is the nature of many of my interactions when I’m travelling. It is nice to have a cup of tea (which is common after a meeting on a marae) or wine after a meeting, even if the meeting has been a bit heated (the nature of my jobs over the years means I have been to quite a few heated meetings). We can relax. I hear what is good, what is bad and what is front and centre of the places I might otherwise drive though, blink and miss completely.
That is the advantage of working and travelling. You get the best of both worlds. Meeting new people and building lasting friendships. New Zealand is so small, and Wellington even smaller and relationships matter. It is a rare day that I don’t recognise anyone in the airline lounge. I love the anonymity of travelling to a new place and a big city like New York. But I love the fact my local coffee shop, Mojo Orgins on Lambton Quay, know me. I get a kick out of saying hi to lots of people who are also getting coffee there each morning. It reminds me that I am part of a system. A cog that is reliant on the people around them and that we are working towards something bigger, together. This is one of the reasons I could never quit my job and travel full time.

Day trips for work are much better than staying over night

Day trips are my favourite. There is something glamorous about flying just with a handbag, bypassing the check-in and heading straight to the Koru (Air NZ lounge). I manage to fit my laptop, papers and books into my handbag. Sorry makeup you have to stay behind. I also love heading straight out of the airport without waiting round for my bag or dragging along my carry on bag. A professional woman on a mission and you better watch out!
I dislike staying the night away. I generally find it difficult to sleep in hotels and new beds. The bed is hard, the air is dry and my mind can’t stop thinking about all the events of the day and upcoming events for the next day. The days are long and you have to be alert or ‘on show’ for longer. As a bit of an introvert I find that it exhausting. Being able to go home and collapse into my own bed is comforting. I can turn off sooner and wake up refreshed for the next working day.
Today I am heading to Whangarei which is about 800 km from Wellington. This means two, hopefully productive, flights. Wellington to Auckland then a short break in the Auckland Regional Koru lounge before a 40 minute flight to Whangarei. Because New Zealand is a pretty small country you can get to most places within ~2 hours of flying. I will be home this evening and back to the office tomorrow.
Travelling for work requires spending plenty of time in airline lounges
Travelling for work generally requires spending plenty of time in airline lounges. At least the Auckland Regional Koru has good art work

Sometimes I do daydream about giving it all up…

I won’t lie, the other day I suggested to my husband that we should quit our jobs and sell our house and find a little bolthole somewhere. Occasionally when I am travelling, especially overseas, I daydream about never going back to New Zealand. Then I remember I quite like my work. While I don’t get to travel internationally, that is what weekends and annual leave is for. I think I found a pretty good balance and that is why I won’t quit my job to travel the world.

I would love to hear what your motivation for working and travelling is, and how you find balance between working and travelling.


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There are plenty of reasons not to quit work to travel the world


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