Life as a Traveling Consultant: The Perfect Storm

Life as a Traveling Consultant: The Perfect Storm blog post that states, "I realized that the one thing about consulting that was the most difficult for me to adapt to was the travel."

After making the leap into consulting, having been joyously dedicated to an established healthcare organization for close to 25 years, I realized that the one thing about consulting that was the most difficult for me to adapt to was the travel. Up until my first experience as a traveling consultant, most of my experience with travel was as a novice–mostly for vacations and a handful or two of work-related conferences over the years. Before I began as a consultant, I was sure to do my research, as it’s important to me to always be prepared. I spoke with many other consultants I knew to discuss pros and cons, tips and tricks, and lessons learned.  Now, I had a knowledge-base, or so I thought.

State of Mind: Sunny Skies and Happiness

My first trek across the country, from my home-state of Ohio to my client partner’s state of California, brought me from 24 degree weather to 70+ degree weather. This change in temperature was a bit shocking to my system. Note to Self: Stock Up on Airborne and Vitamin C! The weather called for cloudy skies and light rain back in Ohio, so I was more than happy to be under sunny skies and warm temperatures. As I prepared for my trek back home after my first week onsite had wrapped up, I monitored the weather forecast in Ohio. While I was enjoying the warmth, I found that a huge ice storm was hitting the Midwest with power outages and travel delays lasting for days!

State of Mind: The Iceman Cometh

Just as my consultant friends had suggested, I continued to check with my airline and the airport to see if my flight was delayed. Low and behold, my flight was canceled and rescheduled for the next day. At this point, all of the knowledge and tips and tricks that had been shared with me didn’t prepare me for what I was to do next.  I was absolutely unsure of how to deal with a canceled flight. Was I to try and find another airline and cancel my existing flight?  Was I to sleep in the airport, or should I get a hotel for the evening? And the questions went on and on. So, a minor amount of panic set in as I realized just how little control I had over the weather and airlines.

State of Mind: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Just as my 25 years of experience flew out the door, my fellow teammates came to my rescue. Two of my teammates were also flying that day, and walked me through what I needed to do.

  1. Take control and do what I can to make an uncontrollable situation just a bit more convenient.
  2. Call my manager from both the client partner and my consulting firm to make them aware of the situation.
  3. Ensure I was booked on the next possible flight out, while comparing costs and keeping them as low as possible.
  4. Find a safe, appropriate hotel to stay in that evening.
  5. Compare costs to determine if I should take a cab or rent a car.

The next day, I made it home safe and sound, to the familiar cold and snow. I experienced six days onsite, travel delays, time changes, a different climate, new people and a new facility. Thus, I can safely say I  jumped into consulting and was able to hit the ground running!

Lessons Learned as a Traveling Consultant

The main lessons I learned as a traveling consultant was to be prepared for travel cancelations or delays by:

  1. Know which numbers to call if your flights are delayed or canceled.
  2. Come prepared with activities to keep you occupied, like client work, a good book, crossword puzzles and more.
  3. Remember that you do not have control over the weather and airlines. However, you do have control over how you handle the situation. You can become upset or throw your hands up and feel helpless. Alternatively, you can make a list of what you need to do to make the best of the situation.

Best of luck to you with your upcoming travels. Want to see more from our consultants? Check out other insights today.