I started a new job recently, and in trying to learn the ropes and adjust to the new environment, I haven’t had a chance to think about traveling (well, lock down travel plans anyway). 

But, it reminded me of this dance that I have to do every time that I’ve started a new job or transferred to a new group within the same company. In nearly every instance, I have had to hold off on traveling for quite some time. The only exception has been if I planned that trip months in advance, before starting the new job, in which case I inform my new employers about it before starting, and hold off on my next trip for several months.

While a lot of this stuff might seem obvious, I realized that it’s still not easy (even if it gets easier over time), and I always feel awkward taking time off initially.

Why?

Starting a new job requires us to have to pay our dues, no matter what level we come into the new job. Getting used to the new job in itself is part of paying the dues, which nearly always includes settling into your new role, the new company culture, and a brand new set of coworkers. It’s the time when first impressions are made about what kind of a coworker you are and how trustworthy, reliable, and responsible you are. You may have been a superstar at your last job, but you’re probably going on good faith, even if you already have some “cred”.

For me, until that time comes, I limit myself to trips that I can do in a long weekend (mostly 3 days, once in a while, 4 days). 

What’s the right amount of time before going on a trip for more than a long weekend? It varies, and even then, I don’t know what the right answer. The way I handle it is to get a feel for what my coworkers and managers do (as opposed to what they may say). Think of it as a “Do as the Romans do”. In any case, I tend to give it about 6 months before going on a longer trip, but it gives me some time to find out stuff like: (1) how long of a trip is acceptable? (aka, what’s the longest trip I can take?); (2) how often can I take trips?; and (3) what’s the notice period for the trip and how often are employees asked to reschedule vacations? There can be other specifics that are necessary depending on what your company or industry’s restrictions also. In addition to the that, you can get a sense of how receptive and open-minded your manager and coworkers are to the types of trips you like taking. I don’t like feeling bad about an awesome trip I am about to take or already took because some jerk at work belittles it. 

This isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s nice to be open about with your coworkers, especially if they ask about your time off. 

In conclusion, while I love traveling like it’s my job, it’s not my actual job. It is my responsibility to make sure that the perception at work isn’t that I blow off my actual job. No one wants a tarnished reputation at work, because worst case scenario, you’ll have to restart this dance again, and sooner rather than later. 

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