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Business Travel Interview: Jeanette Anderson

This is part of a new series here at WhyGo Business Travel featuring brief interviews with people who travel for work, asking them about what they do and some of their favorite travel tips. This way, if you’re looking for a career that will require travel, you’ll get to read about people doing some of the jobs you might consider – and you’ll also learn a few great travel tips from the travel pros!

This week, we’re talking with Jeanette Anderson. Jeanette is a Kansas City-based consultant who travels extensively for work and enjoys traveling so much she does it in her free time, too.

What do you do?
I am a consultant for Cerner Corporation. I travel in the US implementing computer systems for hospitals and physician practices. Mostly the Mid-west and Great Lakes and have spent most of my time for the past few years traveling to Indiana.

What kind of travel do you get to do for work? Do you get to choose where you go?
I travel almost every week, flying to the client site on Monday and then back on Thursday afternoon. Since my projects are generally a year or more long, I go to the same client each week for that year. I have had some projects where I have alternated projects and project weeks.

Do you add any extra “fun” days on to work trips? Why or why not?
Definitely have added extra fun days to trips and had people come visit Indianapolis. I have friends who have come to see Colts games, do museum tours and got tickets at the last minute for the NCAA men’s basketball finals in 2010. Looking forward to making a point to go see the Kentucky Derby and the Indianapolis 500 in 2012.

What are your favorite and least favorite airports in which to spend extended periods (long layovers, flight delays, etc.)?
Kansas City International (MCI) is my home airport and my favorite. You really can’t beat the convenience as a local to arrive 1 hour before and go straight across the road to parking. Detroit is really my favorite airport to connect in. Memphis is my least favorite for pure aesthetics. O’Hare always seemed to be delayed, but it was amusing on Monday mornings that I could fly in, drive to client site and be there before the Chicago locals.

How often do you get to travel for work?
Usually every week for the past 9 years. I usually have a week working from the corporate HQ about once every 8 weeks.

Did you choose your job at least in part because you love to travel? Would you make the same job choice again, knowing what you know now?
I chose my job because the consulting market dried up after 9/11 – my first 10 months, I didn’t travel very much, but have been on the road ever since. As a consultant, you really don’t have much of a routine and really have a lot of flexibility depending on the company. You get to see new places and new things all the time, so it isn’t for someone who needs a set routine or who doesn’t expect to learn something new and meet all new people every year. I have honestly enjoyed it and being able to just work anywhere from a folding table in a trailer to a plush office, to a little cubby in the corner of an airport or even a SkyClub.

What are some of your favorite travel tips that you’ve picked up?

  • If you are a young female, you may want to “pick up” a fake wedding ring. There are sometimes those guys on the plane that just don’t know the meaning of “I just want to sit here and read and not sit and hear about how cool you are.”
  • If there is ever a re-book situation or cancellation, always call the airline, especially in the smaller airports. The agents at these local airports aren’t as fast and are working on the 20 people who are crowded in line in front of you.
  • Delays happen, so be pleasant to airline employees – they really can’t control the weather and aren’t the plane mechanics or FAA inspectors.
  • Try to stick with one airline or hotel chain and figure out how to make that work with your corporate policy. When they see your face and know you there should be some nice perks coming your way – and let the hotel managers know. Having rooms filled with happy customers is what they want.
  • Also, hotels and airlines will often be able to match status. For example, if you have status then the new client has a different hotel chain, you can often get them to match status if you can prove or talk to them about how you will be loyal.

What one travel tip would you, as a business traveler, pass along to someone who doesn’t travel as often?
Get the right sized carry-on. Stop overpacking and trying to fit the 22 inch suitcase packed to bursting in the overhead bin. Get a 19-inch International one. You don’t need a new pair of pants or shoes every day.

What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in doing what you do?
If you think you will be doing this for a while (3 yrs or more) just buy the expensive Tumi suitcase. I went through 3 $100 suitcases before I just bought the Tumi on sale for $450 that I then traveled with for 7 years.

Everyone will hate travel at around the 3 year mark, do what you can to get a travel break around that time, so that you can get annoyed with having a daily commute, sitting in a cube from 9-5, etc. If you do that, it seems like you can continue to travel and get less annoyed with the inevitable delays every time you get stuck in traffic.

Find out more about Jeanette by checking out her blog (originally started to document her RTW trip) Not in Kansas, and you can also follow her on Twitter @jeanettegtf.

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