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Traveling for Work – Do I have to go?

Q. I am in a relatively new job. I like my boss, what I do, what I am learning and the people I work with. I was told the job would be local and mainly have day travel. My boss asked me to travel for two days next week needing me to book a flight, book a hotel, rent a car on my credit card, and the real issue for me is I need to get a dog sitter. I’m not sure I really want to go. Can I say no?

A. Yes, you can say no. And you can say yes. Whatever you decide, your choice will have an impact on your reputation at the company, and your career. You pointed out a few issues, so let’s take them one at a time.

Your boss has asked you to travel, which means there is a need for a person to represent the company in another location. Your boss has enough confidence in you and your capabilities to ask you to go and perform some kind of professional duties. Your boss believes it would be good for the company and potentially good for you; perhaps it will be a learning opportunity, which you say you enjoy. So this part of the equation suggests you should go.

However, you are being asked to use your personal credit card. Do you have enough credit for a flight, hotel and car? Have you had to make these types of arrangements in the past? Are you are comfortable with each process? Your manager may not even consider any part of this to be an issue. Perhaps you need direction on which days to travel, or how much the flight should cost or which level car or room you can reserve. Many of these issues can typically be dealt with quickly through a conversation with your manager, an administrative person who has handled travel in the past, or even a conversation with human resources. Someone can help with travel plans, offer to provide the use of the corporate credit card, explain room limits, how to handle rental car insurance, typical expense limits and other cultural norms your organization has with corporate travel.

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Many dog owners have regular sitters they know and trust. If you don’t have a dog sitter, finding a professional can be stressful. You might be surprised to know that some EAP’s (Employee Assistance Programs) can help you identify resources. Your veterinarian, or staff at pet stores may also provide referrals.

There are challenges with each of these issues, and all can be overcome. If you decide not to go, your boss will be bothered (we don’t know to what level), someone else will receive the opportunity and gain experiences that may position them for future opportunities which could have been yours. Most likely you will not be asked to travel again, and people may question your commitment to the company and your career. If you decide to go, your boss will be happy, the work will get done, you will have gained new personal and professional experiences, and have a dog sitter to use in other situations.

-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners

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