What ‘Real Travel’ means to me: The Reality of Travelling for Work
Getting to travel for work was an absolute dream when I was younger. In my first magazine job in London I got to travel to the Cotswolds for a photo shoot with Laurence Llewylen Bowen and it seemed like the most exciting thing ever.
Then, in my next job, I travelled to Porto in Portugal for a conference.
And when I had the opportunity to travel for work to Toronto – jeez – the excitement was almost too much to handle.
Obviously now I get to travel for work a LOT.
I now make a living by documenting my travel experiences. I often ask myself how I managed to get this life – staying in nice hotels, waking up to hotel breakfasts and making the most of the facilities.
I was in Dorset last month to work with Hampton by Hilton on their recently launched campaign focusing on ‘real travel’ (not the Instagram travel featuring poolside cocktails and glamorous dresses in beautiful sunsets). They are interested in the real reasons why we travel – the family reunions, the weddings, the gigs and shows and for the job.
It’s very easy to document just the shiny bits – when in reality travel doesn’t always translate to a picture-perfect break. Travelling for work isn’t always a holiday. But with a comfy bed, reliable WiFi and a tasty breakfast, I feel stronger and ready for the challenge.
Hampton by Hilton enlisted the help of documentary photographer Ian Weldon to capture a series of pics entitled ‘This Is Real Travel’, showing a side to travel that isn’t often shown and how people travel for a whole load of reasons. In this case, guests were staying for a sales conference, a football game, a 50th birthday party and even to perform as Morris dancers.
Ian spent three days at Hampton by Hilton Edinburgh West End, capturing genuine snaps of these real hotel guests and the moments that made up their trips – however big or small.
For me, this resonated as it’s often the little things when travelling for work that make my trip.
– Both pictures by Ian Weldon
I’ve been all over the world for work, even before I started this whole bloggy business. I know exactly what travel is like – and I know like anything, travelling for work has its ups and downs. When I heard about the ‘Real Travel’ campaign, I immediately considered the aspects of travelling for work that some might not think of…
You make the most of down time
When you’re travelling for work and staying in a hotel, chances are you’ve had a bit of a journey to get there. First thing I’ll do when I arrive is sit and chill, to get over the journey. Usually, this involves a little play on my phone to catch up.
After two hours of driving, diverting into Southampton to pick up my coat I’d left at my friend’s house on New Year’s Eve, I arrived in Bournemouth. My first step was to get all my stuff in from the car park downstairs and relax.
As I’m self-employed, it’s important to keep up on emails and events of the day, so making the time for this gets me back on a level.
You follow your familiar rituals in an unfamiliar place
Ooo you can’t beat a cup of tea after a long journey, can you?
I like to keep the sense of a normal day at work when on the road and to me that means lots of teas and coffees. So a niiiiiice cup of tea on arrival in a new hotel room is a must.
And so, the fun begins. New kettle, where’s the plug socket, what tea do they have, any milk? (All provided here!)
You need to be a pro at packing
Even with years of practice, it’s tough to remember everything I need. Cameras, charged batteries, memory cards, laptops, chargers, business cards, hot clothes, cold clothes, rainy clothes – I often consult my own packing guides to make sure I have everything I need.
I will usually arrive in a hotel bringing the clutter and chaos with me. With no method to my packing, stuff is everywhere. And when I drive it gives me a whole load of boot space to fill with stuff that I take ‘just in case’.
You wake up on someone else’s schedule
When I travel for work and it’s a press trip I could be up at any time. The earliest I’ve had to get up was 3am, when I went to the Kumbh Mela Festival in India, and the latest is probably around 9am.
When you’re travelling on a press trip there’s no such thing as a lie in. Apart from when I get to design my own schedule of course. A leisurely wake up is the dream.
I was lucky enough to get a lie in on my recent trip to Bournemouth. If I have time to catch up on the news, then I’m a happy traveller and to be able to catch up on social media is amazing.
The only time I get to do this is when the jet lag hits. I travelled to Japan for work a few weeks ago and was up at about 4am every day, as I couldn’t sleep past 9pm. So most mornings started like this.
The four-course breakfast temptation is real
Ooof, you can’t beat a hotel breakfast when you’re travelling for work. With no one there to judge your selection or consumption, it can be dangerous.
The selection at the Hampton by Hilton Bournemouth was particularly special. All those sausages! And an amazing waffle making machine for anyone with a sweet tooth.
I find that travelling for work so much means that any healthy plans or intentions are out the window. Which means it’s always useful when there’s a gym at the hotel too.
You get to see somewhere new
I love visiting new places, whether it’s Bournemouth or Bermuda.
Anywhere out of my ordinary excites me.
Depending on how you travel for work, you may have some time to go and explore the vicinity. Then you get the best of both worlds – the excitement of travelling for work but the opportunity for a little holiday too!
On my visit to Bournemouth I had an hour or so down at the beach – which I love any time of year.
Just a quick look to make sure no one is looking how weird I am, taking pics of myself on the pier. That’s the trouble with travelling for work, you’re often by yourself with no one behind the camera to take a pic to mark the exploration.
And see yourself in a different light
Hands up who’s looked in a well-lit hotel mirror and been err ‘surprised’ at how they look?!
Jeez, hadn’t realised my brows had got that out of hand… I do love a hotel bathroom though. So fresh and so clean.
You appreciate a good space to work
It’s easy to get carried away down at the beach, but when travelling for work – you do have to actually work, and I had a few upcoming projects I wanted to plan, during some downtime.
It’s not all lie ins and sightseeing when you need to keep up with your workload.
I’ll always check if there’s a desk in the room so I don’t have to go out, if I don’t want to. I also always need good quality WIFI to work so loved the complimentary WIFI and this desk with a cityscape view at Hampton by Hilton Bournemouth.
You can usually wangle a plus one
My boyfriend Ben works within a fairly short drive from Bournemouth, so he popped over for the night. Travelling for work seems even better when you can bring someone along for the luxury.
Another added benefit of travelling for work is the fact it’s usually mid-week so you can make the most of the midweek offers in bars and restaurants.
We went for dinner at Sixty Million Postcards, with buy one get one free burgers and then went to play unlimited golf at Mulligans, just £10 and on Tuesdays only.
Even after all these years I still love travelling for work – seeing new places, new hotels and having the luxury of someone clearing up after you is brilliant.
Travelling for work
The research that Hampton by Hilton carried out as part of the ‘Real Travel’ campaign highlighted that travel isn’t just exotic destinations (checking out Bulgarian mountains or the far-flung bustle of Osaka), but instead can be much more functional and for reasons such as work. For many people, travelling for work is a very ‘real’ way to travel and to get a chance to explore new places.
It’s not hard to glam up this whole “travelling for work” – it’s a perk. But when you start to do it a lot you realise that you do actually have to work, and it’s very different to a holiday and not every moment is ‘picture perfect’.
It’s more about the practicalities and making this kind of (usually) solo travel as comfortable as possible, whilst still having fun and keeping a sense of the excitement at travel that got you into this job in the first place!
If ever you have the opportunity to travel for work, make the most of it!
Thank you to Hampton by Hilton Bournemouth for hosting me while I was in Dorset, and click here to learn more about Hampton by Hilton’s Real Travel campaign.