Episode 24: Surviving business travel with Erick Bronson


November 19th, 2019

42 mins 53 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Always wanted to be a road warrior with lots of travel to faraway places and with super status at hotels and airlines? The real thing is not so glamourous. We looked far and wide for a great guest to talk about the ups and downs of work travel, and found him in Liz’s house! In this episode, Liz’s husband Erick joins us to talk about his life traveling in tech sales.

Erick has been a b2b software salesperson at both large and smaller companies, both sales direct to customers as well as working with distribution channel partners. He’s had large territories and small and has been traveling at least 50% of the time for work for over 15 years.

Erick starts off by giving us some tips around air travel and points. One tip around booking travel: pick one airline and one hotel group and stick to it. Why? So that you can get upgrades and be able to travel on them at a discount for vacations.

If Erick travels, he makes sure he's scheduled at least 2-3 client meetings during the trip. He will try to teleconference if he only has one sales meeting scheduled.

Erick likes some of the upsides of travel: getting to know his work colleagues better and seeing other cities. But he misses being away from his family, and it's hard to just run from meeting to meeting -- harder than being in the office! He talks about the fact that you can’t really relax because you’re representing your company and you have to be “on” the whole time.

Meals alone can be depressing and lonely. You have meals by yourself, and it can feel sad. Erick doesn't ue FaceTime a lot with Liz and their kids because sometimes it can make life at home hard.

From the home front, Liz doesn’t call without texting first because Erick could be in meetings and Erick doesn’t call without texting first because he doesn’t want to interrupt the flow with their two children. When the kids were younger, Erick and Liz didn’t talk about Dad when he wasn’t home because it could bring on a meltdown.

When Erick is gone, Liz has to have a tight routine to handle having two kids on her own. When they were babies, it was really rigid because of the juggle. When Erick would be at home and not traveling, their routines and how they managed the children would change, and that could be disruptive for everybody.

When interviewing, what questions should you ask about travel?

Erick says that it’s probably 10% over what they estimate, but you should ask all about travel expectations. Ask both the hiring manager and a potential peer. Also talk with competitors about how often they are actually visiting clients - that can give you a good picture of how much you'll have to be out there for your target market.

Other travel tips: try to get your stuff into a carry-on. Don’t be the person who checks their bag and makes all of your traveling companions wait on you while you to baggage claim to get your bag.

One recent development has been services like Clear and getting qualified for TSA Pre -- these give you extra sleep before you leave and helps you to not miss flights. If you're taking clients out to dinner, look at places like OpenTable and Eater and make a reservation at a highly rated restaurant so that you don’t have to make clients wait. Bring cash for tips.

To prevent getting sick: Don’t try too many new foods and be careful where you eat. Use hand sanitizer. Eat healthy.

Keeping up your workload can be hard. Erick recommends working on the plane, but not relying on the internet, and going home from dinner and other evening events early so that he can catch up.

Work days can be long It’s hard to get things done when you’re having meetings. To sleep, Erick tries to keep his same routine as he does at home. He tries to exercise and keep his routine as close to his home routine as possible.

Eating healthy is hard, but it’s important to try to stay healthy and keep your body feeling good and strong while traveling. When Erick started traveling, his cholesterol spiked because he was ordering burgers and fries. He lowered it by eating more boring food and saving his cheat meals for date nights with Liz.

Relationships at home are impacted by travel as well. Erick makes sure he keeps his travel on Liz’s calendar, and lets her know when he’s going to travel. He tries to keep his travel limited to Tues-Thursday. He avoids Monday morning meetings to avoid traveling on a Sunday night for a Monday morning meeting.

Want to learn more about travel? Listen to our Episode #18 about conferences, parties and travel.

Erick also tries to make things easier for Liz when he’s gone -- for example, prepping meals she can throw in the oven.

Travel takes sacrifice. You’re going to miss kids' activities and social get-togethers. It puts stress on relationships. The person who is home has to take everything on themselves and juggle all family commitments. It takes a lot of trust with your spouse as well.

Liz talks about what it’s like having a partner who travels. When kids are little, you’re carrying 2 babies up the stairs at the same time, and when they are bigger you are dealing with the Jenga game of their schedules. It takes trust, organization and the ability to plan ahead. It allows her to have a special relationship with the kids because of the quality time, but also makes her into the heavy. She’s learned to love alone time and craves it, so she appreciates when he travels.

You have to decide how much travel is on your "must-have" list for a potential new job. It’s a big decision that can impact your career choice. Erick says that you’ll find out quickly if travel is for you or not.

Erick can be found on Linkedin and Twitter (at @ErickBronson).