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I have been working at my company very happily for two years now as a software developer. However, recently I have started getting requests from the company to travel to different cities. I usually have to travel for one week every two months.

When I started this was not in my job description, and I actually refused a much more lucrative job offer from another company because they asked me if I could travel often. Right now I am in the process of buying a house and planning a wedding, and a lot of stuff is going on in my personal life that means it is impossible for me to travel.

I love my workplace and everything about my work; however, I can't keep on traveling, since there are far too many downsides. No amount of money will be able to convince me to keep traveling.

The request is coming from very high up. I have talked with my immediate manager, and the problem is that the request is coming from the vice president, so my manager has very little say in this matter. It is something that the company wants me to do on a regular basis.

How should I politely decline the request to travel and explain that I am not going to travel in the future and that it is not the job I signed up for?

Edit: Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I have requested a meeting tomorrow. Based off of how it goes I will accept an answer, and update my question with what happened. You guys are right - having a meeting with both of them should help.

Update: Just got off the meeting. Joe Strazzere was right. I conveyed in a calm manner that I can not travel as much and gave my reasons as to why. The decision was not met happily, however it was understood, and I will not have to travel as often. I was able to say that I agree to travel only if the case is very urgent. However just as a back up precaution I might have to polish up my resume and be on the lookout in case if the requirement to travel often will be continued. It seems from now on every request to travel will have to be fought off by me, and I will have to negotiate and see if I will have to travel or not.

Thanks Joe, I am in same shoes as you right now. Thanks to everyone else for their kind suggestions and help.

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    Has your boss actually talked to the VP about this, or is he just saying he can't do anything because it's coming from the VP? It is your boss's job to stick up for you in situations like this, so saying there's nothing he can do about it is not a very good answer to me. – David K Oct 22 '14 at 20:36
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    Just a financial consideration, you may have to put up with the travel until after you finalize your house purchase, so that sudden job changes don't impact a loan. – GrandmasterB Oct 22 '14 at 21:04
  • @DavidK Let's be realistic as to what the boss can do and cannot do. If the company reserves the right to change the rules at any time, then that's pretty much it. You are free not to like the answer and do something about it, including voting with your feet. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 22 '14 at 21:24
  • "any amount of money won't be able to convince me to keep travelling" Everyone has their selling point at some level... ;). Just some easing up since it sounds like you are very level-headed in your approach. Odds are they have to have some considerations for your needs or maybe moving on is a best option. – Xrylite Oct 22 '14 at 22:27
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    "I was able to say that I agree to travel only if the case is very urgent" -- almost anything that you do for your employer seems more urgent/important to the person who asks you to do it, than it seems to you. Maybe they'll take your request very seriously and accommodate it, but it's just as likely that they'll fall into the trap of thinking to themselves that if they think you should do it then it's urgent and you'll do it. A solid figure, "I can travel 2 times a year but not 6 times" is a tougher negotiation but makes them decide what's actually most worth using you for. – Steve Jessop Oct 23 '14 at 20:56
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How should I politely decline request to travel and explain that I am not going to travel in the future and that it is not the job I signed up for.

You should approach your manager and talk about the importance of "no travel" to you and your family.

Explain how you were happy to help in the past, but your home situation has changed such that travel is no longer viable.

Explain how important this is to you. You don't necessarily need to say "I'll quit if I am required to travel", but you need to convey that sense (if that's truly how you feel).

As @enderland correctly points out, sometimes you can offer alternatives such as Skype or video conferencing as a viable way to accomplish the company's goals without traveling.

Ask your manager what the two of you can do together to make this travel requirement go away.

If there is nothing your manager can do (or nothing he is willing to do), then you are faced with a difficult decision - stay and find a way to make it work for your family, or leave and find a new company and position which will not require regular travel.

I'm in a similar situation at this time. My company wanted me to manage a few out-of-state teams. That would require travel for me. There was a time in my career when this would have been okay with my family, but that is no longer the case.

I made it clear to my then-manager that this wouldn't work out for me or my family. She couldn't promise anything, but my sense was that my message had been received. I was willing to wait and see what actually happened.

More recently, my department was reorganized, and I now work for a remote manager. He almost immediately tried to have me manage another out-of-state team. While I don't have any background with this new manager, I still tried to convey that this wouldn't work for my family. He has so far backed off, so I am again in wait and see mode. If there is no travel, I'll stay. If travel is required, I'll likely leave.

The key here is to convey the importance of the travel requirement for you and your family to the extent necessary. Then, you'll just need to deal with the consequences. Some companies will be able to lift the requirement, others won't.

As @raptortech97 correctly points out, if you are quite sure that your company will still require you to travel, you may want to start your job search sooner rather than later. Depending on your relationship with your boss and your company, and the difficulty (or lack thereof) in replacing you, it's conceivable that your boss will terminate you on hearing the news that you cannot continue to travel. I think that's an unlikely occurrence if you approach your boss in a polite manner, but it's always possible. Be prepared.

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    Good answer, one thing I'd add would be perhaps proactively providing alternative solutions for travel. Skype, video conferencing, etc. all can be used effectively in leiu of travel. – enderland Oct 22 '14 at 19:44
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    I'm surprised that you didn't suggest the OP start the job search process before talking to their boss. It seems like if the OP made it clear enough that they wouldn't travel, that would be reason enough for the boss to fire them then, and so the OP should have a backup plan in place (in this case, already having started the search process). What's wrong with my logic? Would the boss really wait until the OP quit? – raptortech97 Oct 23 '14 at 2:09
  • One thing I'd like to note is that you don't necessarily need to imply "I'll quit if I need to travel", often "I'll quit if I need to travel, and you don't make it worth my while" is sufficient, while being seen as a less severe reaction. It also helps frame the conversation in terms of cost, which provides an easier route to less frequent travel and/or Skype (or sending someone who "costs less" to convince to travel). – Telastyn Oct 23 '14 at 13:52
  • @raptortech97: in the case of travel every 2 months sure, it's not vital to talk to the manager today, so the questioner could start the job search today and talk to the manager next week or next month. But searching for a job is a cost and a small risk in itself, that is of no particular benefit if the employer agrees about the travel when it's raised. So the questioner needs to play it against the cost and risk of a period of unemployment. – Steve Jessop Oct 23 '14 at 21:00
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Be prepared to go to another job. If the VP wants you to travel in many cases then you will have to travel or leave.

However, I would certainly try talking to management first. You say you have talked to your immediate supervisor about it and he says he can do nothing. In that case, request a meeting with him and the VP to explain that you cannot travel and that you turned down other jobs for this one specifically because it did not involve travel. Ask what he expects you to do onsite that you can't do on the phone or through email. Suggest using Skype or video teleconferencing instead if the need is for customers to get technical knowledge from you that no one else has. Suggest creating good user documentation. Suggest someone else who might be happy to travel if there is another person with the right skill set for the task they want you to do.

Don't be surprised if just asking for the meeting causes the requirement to disappear, he wouldn't be the only boss who said the VP insisted when he didn't. (I had a boss like this once.) Could be the VP said someone had to go and it was between you and the boss and he doesn't want to either.

But be prepared to leave if he says that isn't acceptable. Be prepared to get let go that day. Companies have the right in most places to change the duties of a job.

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    "Companies have the right in most places to change the duties of a job" -- and especially if they have the right to fire you that day for no reason at all, then they almost certainly also have the right to fire you that day for the reason that you won't agree to new duties... – Steve Jessop Oct 23 '14 at 21:02
  • I +1'ed this, because the first sentence is far more important to be clear about, than all the constructive advice for how to find a good agreement. – user1084 Oct 24 '14 at 2:36
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    Before taking the VPs word for gospel: It could be for example that the VP remembers that Jim is very keen on travelling, mistakes Joe with Jim, and tries to do Joe a favour by giving him an opportunity to travel a lot. Once cleared up, Jim will enjoy his travelling. – gnasher729 Jan 2 '15 at 15:45
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When a request comes in for you to travel, try to find other ways to accomplish the same things that the travel would. Focus on solving the problem here; not that you can't travel. Software development offers a lot of leeway for physical presence that carpentry (for example) does not.

  • Can you screenshare / Google hangout / Snapchat to communicate with the remote folks?
  • Can you train a colleague to do what they need you to do remotely?
  • Can you prepare assets or reports and send someone else to do a presentation? Perhaps with you on a screenshare or hangout as backup?

For each travel request, re-state your personal commitments and at the same time try to re-negotiate the travel requirements in a way that would work for you. For example:

  • "I have some appointments on Thursday and Friday, so can we just do the trip on Monday and Tuesday?"
  • "I have some recurring personal commitments until January, but we can put it on the schedule for the entire week in February."

The business will see you as trying to make things work, but perhaps a 2 day trip just doesn't make sense for them expense-wise. Don't be too specific about what the commitments are - it's really none of work's business - but do re-frame the request in a way that would work for you.

At the same time, take first steps towards a job search. Spend an hour every other night or so polishing up your LinkedIn profile and resume. Be sure to add recent work projects and whatever it is at your current position that makes you so indispensable. Be sure your current boss understands what works for you with regards to travel (and salary) so they are not blind-sided if you make a change.

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One thing that was not mentioned was that if your employer is changing your role, and it differs from your employment description, you may be constructively dismissed. If they continue to force you to travel, eventhough you indicated you will not and it was not a part of your employment agreement, you should seek the advice of an employment lawyer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructive_dismissal

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