What's it like traveling the world to speak at tech conferences?
It's fascinating, extremely fun, and EXHAUSTING. You all know the perks of travel and how rewarding it can be to explore the world. I think we'd all much rather be doing more of it right now! But until then, I'll tell you what most don't about traveling for tech conferences. Here are the major CONS of traveling this much:
Conferences usually pay in full for my airfare (or reimburse me afterward), but that doesn't mean I'm flying first-class! Conferences have budgets too, so when that's the case, especially if it's a community-run, non-profit conference, I'm usually flying economy. That may not be so bad for domestic flights, but anything longer than 6 hours or flying to Europe is real tiring. Add onto that the usual annoyances of airports, people with no travel etiquette, etc. and traveling so much is suddenly not so glamorous!
Dealing with jet lag
In-person conference season is on hold for a while, but phew! did it take a toll on my body when I was in full swing back then! Going back and forth between Europe and even the East Coast messes with my internal clocks so much, it takes a while to get over it! I stay up til 3 or 4am even though I need to sleep and I don't wake up until 11 or 12 the next day, effectively making me feel like I've wasted valuable time. Additionally, my appetite is all funky.
Depending on when I land at my destination, I either have an awesome selection of new food to try or am stuck with whatever the hotel can serve when everything else is closed. Many times, it's ordering pizza from room service 😂 See exhibit A:
Once I get home, I eat A LOT (think normal local dining hours, but also every other hour in between) but feel like I haven't eaten anything at all. It takes a while for everything to sync back to normal and going through those effects are not much fun.
Living out of a suitcase
Despite learning what my TRUE essentials are (😂), it can get annoying to be living out of a suitcase. This is exacerbated if I don't have a free washer to make use of and I'm staying for longer than a week. At this point, it becomes a value proposition game. Do I pay more to check in an extra bag that's larger (with the disadvantage of having to wait for it and travel with it)? Do I spend the atrocious $4 a garment to use the hotel's laundering facilities? If I forgot something, do I buy another one? These are all issues that became more prominent for me as I started to travel to more tech conferences.
Mostly exploring alone
This may not be a con for many of you (and I do enjoy exploring on my own every now and then), but there's just something about exploring the world together with someone. In my case, that's my husband. I get to make memories with him, experience something new, and enjoy the hustle and bustle of exploring a place with someone I love. Traveling to lots of tech conferences means I don't get to do that. This also means I spend less time with him overall and I miss him a lot.
There are itineraries that have me jet setting from one place to another in a short span of time and that really burns me out. This happened with my conferences in Berlin, Germany and Richmond, Virginia; I had to visit both places within the span of a week! Sometimes, it's so bad that I end up skipping some speaker dinners or events because I just want to fall into my hotel bed and SLEEP! I hate this, though, because I miss out on meeting other speakers, enjoying exclusive events prepared especially for us, and just feel like I "waste" time in a new place instead of spending every second enjoying and exploring!
And there's the truth!
These rarely talked about cons make me yearn for weeks of just doing NOTHING...though, I am now painfully reminded to be careful what I wish for! 😂 While we wait for travel to become normal again, let these realities be a reminder that not everything is picture perfect!
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