The meaning of “business trips” has changed for me over the last couple years. When I worked in PR, I took a trip to the D.C. area with my team and we spent hours flying, shuttling, meeting, etc. between sleeps in one of those standard airport hotels.
It wasn’t bad. It just felt kind of…pointless. Like a waste of time.
Still to this day, my dad takes regular business trips to exotic locales such as Minneapolis in winter and Tampa in summer. He flies through multiple connections for most of the day, makes a presentation the following day and then turns around and does the flight schedule from hell again.
They aren’t bad…it’s just…
Now that I’m freelancing full-time, there’s a point to every “business trip” I make.
This weekend, I’m headed to Denver to visit my sister and spend some much-needed time exploring a city I’m less familiar with. The following weekend, it’ll be peak nostalgia with a Labor Day houseboat trip at Lake Shasta. Later in September, it’s San Diego for a visit and a music festival. Then Seattle and a long-overdue return to Pullman, WA, where I went to college. Then Columbus, OH. Then Birmingham, AL. College football, new cities and good friends in both.
Sure, it’s not a cheap hobby (although if you dig a bit to find flight and rental deals like I have, it is a lot more affordable than you think…), but it’s one I love. There are so many ways to justify not spending money on traveling or taking a long weekend at the lake. But all that really matters is how you treat yourself, so why not spend a few extra bucks – even if you don’t have much extra to spend – to do something you know will make you feel good?
I keep buying these trips because I prefer the meetings on my “business trips” to be over dinner or drinks with an old friend in a new town. I’d rather only dress up if the nightclub we’re visiting requires it. And the only “work” I should be doing is at a local coffee shop when I have a few hours to kill and a writing itch to scratch.
This is my business now. These are my business trips. And you all are my colleagues, whether you know it or not. The places and people I visit are what make working hard for a freelancer’s salary worth it. I am completely content with that trade-off at the moment.
I’m traveling to visit friends and family, go to music festivals, watch live college football, and get out on the lake. I’m traveling to make new experiences and meet new people, which is the only real way to broaden my topic horizons and a great way to make new connections who could someday become a client and/or friend.
I’m in the business of exploring, connecting and re-connecting. I’m in the business of finding new adventures that inspire new stories and/or real-world clients. Basically, I’m in the business of enjoying myself at work.
It’s been almost exactly one year since I arrived home from that trip abroad (where the hell does the time go?). This is the life I envisioned during and after that trip. I wanted to be writing full-time and still able to explore and enjoy life while doing it.
The situation isn’t as lucrative as I’d like yet, but I’m getting there. It’s the freedom to do what I want, when I want, where I want, with whom I want, that is most important right now. The extra hours I have in my days, weeks and years will pay big dividends in the end.
Plus, I’ll take these types of business meetings over the old ones any day of the week.