I travel a lot for work, but my co-workers think I'm on company-funded vacations. How do I change this perception?
Many people who don't travel for their jobs think that those who do enjoy endless sightseeing, short work hours, and fun in the sun. They fail to understand that most road warriors rarely see any sights, and often end up dining in their cramped hotel rooms and working late into the night, accompanied only by the drone of the TV.
You may not be able to completely change peoples' perceptions of your job, but there is a quick way to deal with misconceptions as they arise. Wait until a co-worker makes a comment about your travel that sounds like he or she thinks you were lolling on a beach somewhere nursing an umbrella-adorned drink, and working on your tan instead of the yearly report. Then let that person know that, while it may sound as though you're enjoying a subsidized fiesta, real vacations seldom include nonstop work, long and irregular hours, and returning to an office where your work has piled up like sand dunes. Remind him or her, too, that these drawbacks don't even include additional stressors, such as being away from your family and missing important events at home on a regular basis.
Repeat this explanation when necessary, and your co-workers will eventually understand that, to paraphrase former Vice President Al Gore, business travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo.